Skip to content

My Top Ten Books of 2012

December 30, 2012



So it’s that time of year again where all us bloggers must somehow narrow it down to our favourite books of the year. It’s always a tough decision – not only narrowing it down to only 10, but trying to decide which book deserves which spot! Well the winner may not come as much of a surprise, especially for those who followed this blog exactly one year ago, but I hope my top ten books of 2012 will at least introduce you to some fantastic new books that you have yet to read! 


10. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

This incredible novel about a couple who find a baby washed up in a boat on the shores of the isolated island on which they live, completely took me by surprise. I don’t think at the time I imagined it would make my top ten by the end of the year, but it really is one that has stayed with me and I struggled to find anything else that could better it.

I can barely fault Stedman at all here. For me, The Light Between Oceans achieved what Charlotte Rogan failed to do in The Lifeboat. I know many of you loved The Lifeboat, but I really failed to connect to any of the characters, and felt that it wasn’t quite addressing the matter of life and death, and the choices we make and their consequences, as well as I would have liked. But Stedman achieves this and does so exceedingly well.

Read my full review here.


9. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I can safely say it will certainly not be my last. What stands out above all else with this novel is the sheer quality of Eugenides’ writing that will instantly make you fall in love with the whole book and its characters. It’s a great book for anyone with a love of literature as we follow Melanie’s student life in the throes of writing that all important dissertation on none other than the marriage plot; a convention used in Victorian literature to depict whether or not the hero and heroine would get married.

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to read a novel written by a truly great writer. Sure, I’ve read some great novels over the years that I have loved and cherished and raved about. But there is definitely something about Eugenides that just makes you want to curl up and read everything he has ever written, and then wait in earnest for him to write more. The Marriage Plot is a perfect example of great modern literature that could easily become a classic in 100 years time, and I can’t wait to devour more of his work.

Read my full review here.

8. Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

This novel follows the story of Liz Crane as she moves into her now-deserted farmhouse that once belonged to her uncle. Living there alone she watches the land deteriorate day by day and reminisces over the lives of her family and their ancestors. I had never heard of Jane Urquhart, let alone read any of her six previous novels; this novel came out of nowhere and blew me away, and slowly put me back together again. I can’t even begin to tell you just how beautiful Jane’s prose is here, and how I have wanted to devour more of her work ever since.

 I have truly been left in awe of Jane Urquhart and her incredible talent as a writer. I have already added more of her novels to my wish list, and really cannot wait to explore more. Sanctuary Line may not be the bestseller of the year, or the most popular novel, in fact, you may not have heard of it yet. But trust me when I say, this is better than most bestseller’s I’ve read in the last year! If you appreciate great writing and are looking for a story that will stay with you forever, then go and buy Sanctuary Line. I’m already looking forward to reading it again.

Read my full review here.

7. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

What better to have on my top ten than my first ever audiobook? I still have yet to read anything by the great Ernest Hemingway, but this insight into his life and his first marriage with Hadley Richardson is a truly wonderful, yet very honest depiction. It made such a huge impression on me that I couldn’t bear to not include in my top ten!

Hemingway went on to marry three more women after Hadley, and as a reader, you can’t help but get a sense that McLain wanted to give Hadley a voice. She has been known ever since as ‘the Paris wife’ – but who was this woman? McLain has clearly done her research, and I think she paints a beautiful yet tragically honest portrait of their relationship, and their individual characters. McLain also does a wonderful job of bringing the roaring twenties to life and I can’t help but envy them for this wonderful era they lived through, and in the city of Paris, which inspired so many of the world’s greatest writers.

Read my full review here.

6. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

This book has received an awful lot of hype this year from countless bloggers, but I can safely say this is one book that truly deserves all such praise. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, let alone this year, and the imaginative characters that have come to life from Valente’s mind have successfully whisked me away on a journey I haven’t quite been able to return from just yet. If you like all things fairytale-esque and whimsical, please do yourself a favour and pick this up!

Some people out there may assume this is only a children’s story, and far too childish for adults to enjoy. But believe me when I say no matter what age you are, you will fall in love with this story. Whether you’re an adult reading it aloud to your child (which it seems perfectly made for), or you’re reading it for your own pleasure, you will be full of nostalgia for your own childhood and the magical stories your imagination either created or stepped into, whether it be through a wardrobe or a rabbit hole.

Read my full review here.

5. Railsea by China Mieville

If you know me at all you’re probably not surprised the latest offering from China Mieville has made its way on to my top ten; but it has definitely earned its place, let me tell you! Inspired by the great Moby Dick, Mieville has created a world of criss-crossing train tracks, and giant moles. Climb aboard the Medes moletrain and join Sham as he takes part in the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole; Mocker Jack.  This is possibly the most fun I’ve had all year, and I am ridiculously excited to see what Mieville will do next!

Railsea is everything an adventure story should be, and more. With enough twists and turns, and danger lurking at every corner, you really will be kept on the edge of your seat waiting to see where the tracks of the railsea will take you. Each character seeks something seemingly unattainable; whether it be Sham trying to find his place in the world, or Captain Naphi seeking the ivory-coloured mole who took her own arm in battle, or the two precious twins Caldera and Dero who live on a salvage heap, virtually orphans after their parents failed to return to them.  Each character is so wonderfully written and so vividly brought to life, that I felt every possibly ounce of emotion for these people who felt nothing shy of friends to me.

Read my full review here.

4. The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

I have to admit after seeing so much heavy criticism for this book when it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, it sat on my shelf unread for quite some time. But then of course it amazed everyone and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and I knew I had to read this book to see why it was so heavily disliked by the literary world, and so adored by the SF community. I instantly felt at home with the voice of Jessie; a young girl trying to create her own place in a world where millions of women are dying from an unknown virus activated by pregnancy; meaning we are a dying species and at threat from extinction. It’s a fascinating concept and just writing about it again makes me want to dig it out from my shelves and give it a re-read!

I absolutely loved this book, so much so that it actually took me by surprise to find it so heavily criticised. What is it about this book that makes it so shunned by the literary community, and praised by the sci-fi community? Although there are obvious elements of science fiction in it, it doesn’t read much like sci-fi, to me anyway. The whole scenario certainly feels plausible and a little too real at times. So what was it about this book that made people criticise its inclusion on the Man Booker long list? And yet with all the criticism surrounding the Arthur C. Clarke award short list, this was mostly the one title people agreed should win the award. Maybe it’s just a case of if you read sci-fi, you’re a little more open-minded to these futuristic scenarios, or maybe it’s the young-adult feel to the language of the novel that makes it not quite literary enough for the likes of the Man Booker Prize? Who knows…

Read my full review here.

3. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This novel was without a doubt my favourite of the carefully selected Waterstones 11 this year, and I was very surprised by how much I related to this novel and the character of Julia as she tries to grow up in a world where the Earth’s rotation begins to slow, causing devastating consequences. It’s a perfect mix of SF and coming-of-age and Walker’s writing is effortlessly beautiful throughout.

I couldn’t help but feel so much for Julia’s character. She has more to deal with than anyone ever should at her age. Her mother grows increasingly ill as a side-effect from ‘the slowing’, her father is barely at home and telling more and more lies each day, the boy she loves is dealing with the death of his own mother, and playing with Julia’s emotions in the process. And on top of all of that, she has to come to terms with losing the simple pleasures in life such as eating a banana or a grape, trying to recall the last time she ate one and wishing she’d known she’d never taste it again.

Read my full review here.


2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

I have been trying to get people reading this book ever since I read it. It’s literally one of the most beautiful and most stunning pieces of writing I have read so far in my life and I can’t find a bad word to say about it. Let Margo entice you into the legends of the selkies as the outcast sea witch Miskaella casts her spells to pull women out of the bodies of seals to seduce the local fishermen. I have been left in complete awe of Margo Lanagan’s wonderful talents, and I am extremely excited to see what she will write next, I only hope it will be soon!

From the very first page I was completely taken with Lanagan’s beautiful, lyrical, and haunting prose. I felt as though I were there, living on this island with these men and women who became entranced by the seals living on their shores. I could hear the waves crashing, the seagulls squalling, and smell the salt in the air.

Read my full review here.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is probably number one on many, many lists this year, and I hate to be boring and pick the same, but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t pick this as my favourite novel of 2012. I read this back in January and straight away I said it would be a hard book to beat for my favourite of the year, and I was right. It’s amazing how long a book can stay with you for, and what an incredible emotional impact words can have on a person. I laughed and cried, and cried, and cried my way through these pages, as you can imagine with a story handling the rather tricky topic of kids with cancer, but my god were they some of the best pages I’ve ever read in my life! I literally cannot recommend this book enough. It is the most honest portrayal of cancer I’ve ever read, and John Green proves himself as the perfect writer to tackle such a topic. I will never forget Augustus and Hazel. Never.

This is a book that will make you laugh out loud and cry bucketfuls of tears, and it really will stay with you for the rest of your life. I can already see myself re-reading it countless times, and every time I sell it to someone, or recommend it to someone I get a little bubble of happiness inside, and a lump in my throat. This is a book that deserves to be read and shared with everyone you know.

Read my full review here.



17 Comments leave one →
  1. imminwrites permalink
    December 30, 2012 23:31

    Great list! Out of all of them I’ve only done THE MARRIAGE PLOT (sublime novel, completely agree that it may very well become a classic), so you’ve given me a few ideas for January reads.

    • December 30, 2012 23:32

      Thank you for your comment! So glad you loved The Marriage Plot as much as me 🙂 Really hope you enjoy others on my list, stop by and let me know if you do!

  2. December 31, 2012 02:27

    You’ve provided my reading list for 2013. Oh well, only a year behind 😉 thanks, Paul

  3. December 31, 2012 10:42

    Great list and a really good mix so something for everyone here!

    • December 31, 2012 17:50

      Glad you like it 😀 I agree it is definitely a good mix of books!

  4. December 31, 2012 15:25

    I loved The Light Between Oceans too. I hadn’t come across Sanctuary Line, I like the sound of that one. And I really want to read The Fault in our Stars too. Happy New Year!

    • December 31, 2012 17:51

      The Light Between Oceans is a fantastic book, so glad to see you liked it too! Please do pick up Sanctuary Line…it’s a book most people probably haven’t come across before, but it couldn’t not be on my top ten! Hope you enjoy the ones you choose to read! Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

  5. debbierodgers permalink
    January 1, 2013 01:02

    You no doubt know by now that Jane Urquhart is Canadian (sez me, proudly, as if I had anything to do with it). I finished The Underpainters in December, the third of her novels that I’ve read in the past few years. (The others were Away and The Stonecarvers) I enjoy her books very much: she writes beautifully and she always has a beautifully interwoven ‘surprise’ that hits subtly, but definitely. I’m so glad you’re a fan now!

    • January 2, 2013 09:35

      Wow thank you! It’s great to find someone who has read more of her work…I shall definitely make a note of those titles so I can buy them myself! I was just so in awe with her writing in Sanctuary Line, I must read more! 🙂

  6. January 1, 2013 21:57

    Wow, I’ve only heard of two of these – might have to check some of the others out!
    I’ve read The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides, really enjoyed that one. I really need to read some John Green.

    • January 2, 2013 09:35

      Rinn, you SO need to read some John Green 😛 He is incredible. If you read any others on my list, let me know your thoughts! 🙂

  7. January 2, 2013 20:21

    This is one of the best top tens I’ve seen yet – haven’t read any of your choices but they are all either on my TBR already or straight on the wishlist after reading your summaries! Some very intriguing titles that I haven’t heard of before.

    • January 3, 2013 19:00

      Aw that’s lovely of you to say, Marie! Thank you 🙂 I’m really glad people are liking my list and finding books they’ve not even heard of! Do drop by again and leave a comment if you go on to read any of them 🙂

  8. January 12, 2013 01:07

    Age of Miracles made my list too – great book!


  1. Sci-Fi & Fantasy Book Reviews
  2. Black Juice by Margo Lanagan | Rafferty's Rules

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: