I just came across a post on the PBS site that on this date (February 19) in 1985, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published, in the United States. Literary critics universally recognize this as a literary masterpiece. While nothing that I read in 2012 falls into that category, it did seem like there were some enjoyable pieces that I read, so I thought I'd check my list on Goodreads, and see what was there.
Well, there certainly was a lot of 'junk food'... "Spell Bound", by Kelley Armstrong, "Destined for an Early Grave", by Jeaniene Frost, "Cherry Cheesecake Murder", by Joanne Fluke. There were a couple of Linwood Barclays, and a couple Janet Evanovich books, and a Sue Grafton, and some Lee Child books. I'm not embarassed about my junk food reading.. sometimes you're just not in the mood for something gripping, or enlightening.. but you just want entertaining fluff. But there's nothing wrong with either writing, or reading fluff, in my opinion. I do a lot of reading when we're out on the boat, and I also do a lot of reading just to avoid boredom. And reading is certainly better than stealing hubcaps. I also read some amusing Harry Potter fanfic by Norman Lippert. Until recently, I had no idea what fanfic was .. it's typically a parody, or a take-off, on a piece of original fiction.. written by fans of the original. When I first heard about fanfic, I thought the idea was kind of stupid.. but I came across some free stuff (yes, I'm a sucker for free books for my Nook), and some of it was pretty bad. But as it happens, the stuff written by Lippert, with James Potter (Harry's son) as the main character, isn't half bad.
Moving on through my list.. oh yes! I read "The Magicians", by Lev Grossman, in 2011, and thoroughly enjoyed it.. and in 2012, I read book 2, "The Magician King". I was initially intrigued, because I'd read that this was a combination of Harry Potter, and "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" ... but this 2-book series was so much more. Definitely has some dark spots, definitely NOT recommended for children, some excellent characterization, much more of a focus on how people react in different situations. In fact, I liked it so well, that (I know, this makes no sense), when I heard the Mr. Grossman's brother, Austin, had written a novel - "Soon I Will be Invincible" - I read that in 2012, as well. It was nothing like "The Magicians", of course.. I knew it wouldn't be... but I did enjoy it.
Oops.. this is getting long.. so I'll try to speed this up, and only include books that were both good, and memorable.
"The Warded Man"' by Peter Brett. Pretty intense.. I've added a couple others of his to my 'to-read' list, but haven't gotten to them, yet.
"Fairy Godmother", by Mercedes Lackey... interesting twist on fairytales.. in concept, this reminds me of the television show, Once Upon a Time.
"Before I go to Sleep", by S. J. Watson. Wow! Some really clever plot twists.
"The Shadow of the Wind", by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Very different... kind of like a psychological study.
"19th Wife", by David Ebershoff. Very good, but difficult to follow at times. There's the historical fiction part about the early Mormons based on letters from one of the early wives, but then you have a more modern story woven in about a son of a more modern Mormon wife. Oh yeah, and there's a murder.
"77 Shadow Street", by Dean Koontz. This is an exception to my plan to only include books that were good. This one - while certainly not a waste of time - was a disappointment. Mr. Koontz, I know you can't be excellent all the time, and this proves it.
"11/22/63", by Stephen King. A major departure from his usual writing... which makes this a very worthwhile read whether you're a King fan or not.
"The Casual Vacancy", by J. K. Rowling. Yes, I'll admit it, I only picked this one up, because I liked the Harry Potter series, and I knew it would be very different. And it was. But even so, at first, it was hard to not be disappointed... and the book certainly moved much slower.. but as I realized that the main characters in this story were a) someone who died in the first few pages (oh come on, that can't be a spoiler.. how do you think the vacancy came about?), and a website... I found this to be quite enjoyable.
"The Woman Who Died a Lot", by Jasper Fforde. You're either a Fforde fan, or you're not.
"Dies the Fire", by S. M. Stirling, and "The Passage", by Justin Cronin. I've enjoyed dystopic novels, since long before their recent popularity
"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", by Rachel Joyce. This was one of my favorites (after "The Magician King"). It involves people, and their motivations, and their interactions. Oh dear, my description is dull, but the book is not.
Wow. 2012 was a pretty good year. I lift my teacup in a toast to the books I've read, and here's hoping that 2013 is just as good.