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By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  This morning I was browsing Goodreads, a website for book lovers. Itís a fun diversion, filled with book reviews, author interviews, quizzes and lots of random but interesting book trivia. Itís a great way to stumble upon new favorites, or you can enter your favorite books and authors into a searchable database and it will generate a customized list of recommended titles for you.

  While exploring the website, I noticed a ďBest Books of 2012Ē feature. Out of curiosity, I clicked on it and found that the books on the list were nominated and voted on by Goodreads members. Since itís free and simple to set up a Goodreads account, I think lists like this have value; they give a good idea of what the general public really enjoys reading, as opposed to what professional literary critics give their seal of approval.

  And what did I find at the very top of the Best Fiction of 2012 category? The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Yes, the very same book that I deemed practically unreadable in this column just last week. In art, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This just goes to show that in books, beauty is in the perception of the reader.

  Goodreads voters named Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn as the Best Mystery/Thriller of 2012. M.L. Stedmanís The Light Between Oceans was voted Best Historical Fiction.

  In somewhat of a departure for Stephen King, known mainly for his horror novels, his 2012 release The Wind in the Keyhole was named Best Fantasy novel. The winner in the Best Horror category was Justin Cronin for The Twelve, sequel to The Passage.

  The title of Best Paranormal Fantasy went to Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. This is the one I gave a mixed review: bogged down by too much dialog and not enough plot, but worth the effort for fans of the series. It would have benefitted from, as Elvis put it, ďA little less conversation, a little more action.Ē Once again, I seem to stand alone among Goodreads voters.

  The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter was voted Best Science Fiction. I havenít read this one, but Iím a fan of Pratchettís Discworld series, which is a curious blend of fantasy and laugh-out-loud humor, so this one is definitely on my to-read list. The Wee Free Men is my favorite of his, in case youíre wondering.

  Cheryl Strayedís account of her 1,100 mile solo hike, Wild, was the votersí choice for Best Memoir. Best Cookbook is The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. A more general Best Nonfiction category was dominated by Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Canít Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

  The Goodreads Best of 2012 includes other categories as well, including best books for kids and teens. To see the complete list and browse the runners-up, visit All titles mentioned in this column are available at Henry County public libraries; check with your branch for availability.

  The final word is: nobody gets the final word on whether a book is worth reading or not, but Goodreads is a fun way to explore what others are reading and maybe find some new favorites.



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