Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Reads of 2012

Do you find that you get to the end of the year, start to see everyone’s books of the year, start compiling your own and then suddenly think ‘why didn’t I read that? Or that? Or that?’ I know taht i do. Actually, I do a list like this mentally every year, I thought I had posted one on the blog last year but I can’t find it currently, never mind. I decided that I would compile one for you this weekend, before I post my books of the year at the end of next week, and who knows they may be some of the first reads of 2013!


  • Bringing Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel (started this one, then put it down as got a deluge of Green Carnation Prize submissions to read)
  • The Yips – Nicola Barker (see excuse above)
  • The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling (was really excited by this, then heard too much about it, then Gran said it wasn’t very good. She has now said it got a lot better in the end, so I will give it a whirl after Dickens I think, if the whim tales me)


  • This is Life – Dan Rhodes (very cross with myself about this one as Dan Rhodes is one of my favourite authors and so I should have read this straight away, it is also one of the Fiction Uncovered titles and I love that promotion)
  • HHhH – Laurent Binet (I wasn’t too fussed about this debut until I saw Marieke Hardy singing its praises on the First Tuesday Book Club, have wanted to read it since)
  • Gossip From The Forest – Sara Maitland (a book about fairy tales and forests and the relationship between the two, very me, very cross)


  • John Saturnall’s Feast – Lawrence Norfolk (a book set to appeal to foodies like ‘Perfume’ appealed to anyone who likes scents, and a dark book too, started this twice and each time more Green Carnation submissions arrived, too big a book to read in bits and bobs)
  • Building Stories – Chris Ware (a graphic novel in a box that pushes the boundaries of fiction be it graphic or not, erm yes please)
  • When Nights Were Cold – Susanna Jones (another of the Fiction Uncovered titles which appealed to me because I have a rather random obsession with the Arctic and Antarctic and this is set in the Victorian period – I imagined this would have been one of my reads of the year)


  • Every Contact Leaves A Trace – Elanor Dymott (this sounded like an unusual literary thriller/murder mystery and I should have read more of those this year)
  • A Death in the Family – Karl Ove Knausgaard (admittedly I had no idea this book existed until I started seeing other bloggers ends of the year lists, the bloggers who loved it really loved it and they are all blogs I trust, this may be my first read of 2013 – I like to start with a gooden)
  • Any of the Simon Serrailler series – Susan Hill (I intended to read two this year to start catching up again, I haven’t read one, bad, bad me)

So which have been your shoulda, woulda, coulda reads of the year? What titles, new or old, can you not believe or feel gutted you haven’t read yet?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

32 responses to “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Reads of 2012

  1. Col

    For me my end of 2012 “now why the hell haven’t I read that yet” list includes Charlotte Rogans’ The Lifeboat, Sebastian Faulks’ A Possible Life Edward St Aubyn’s At Last and Michael Frayn’s Skios. Those four – and about 50 others!!!

  2. gaskella

    There are so many… All of Col’s above, plus the Yips, Swimming home, The Lighthouse, Absolution … The list goes on. However I have read some great books, and John Saturnall’s Feast was one of them, The Casual Vacancy wasn’t but I am glad I read it (strangely). I will look forward to your thoughts about HHhH in particular,

    • I think HHhH might be one of the first books I read in 2013, though not the very first for the reasons we have discussed on another post, ha, and I believe its is a bit of a marmite book. I must dust off JSF!

  3. david73277

    Do try to get round to “This Is Life” if you can. It is one of my fiction books of the year. Light on the surface, but with hidden depths. Dan Rhodes’s infrequently updated blog also makes entertaining bookish reading:

    In terms of books not read in 2012, I regret not having followed through on an intention to re-read some old favourites. I would particularly have liked to have gone back to Trollope, though I should perhaps keep quiet about that given your less than positive experience of The Warden.

    • I love Dan Rhodes in his books, on his, blog – just full stop. He is one of my (many) author crushes. Just saying.

      I didn’t hate The Warden enough to be put of Trollope for life, fear not. Or did you mean you wanted to start reading Joanna?

  4. I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy much more than I thought I would. You do have to get through the first hundred pages or so because so many characters are introduced that initially, it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Also keep in mind that it’s perfectly all right to hate every single character.

    • I don’t mind hating every single character, that can be quite good fun actually hahaha. I am excited by the epicness, in a community kind of way, that I think The Casual Vacancy will have. It won’t be my very first book of 2013 though I don’t think – I have superstitions of that.

  5. David

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda? My entire tbr pile would be the simple answer. Ah, if only I had the time! In the interests of nerdishness I’ve just counted – this year I have bought 158 books that I still haven’t read. Given that so far in 2012 I have (entirely coincidentally) read 157 books this means I could avoid buying any new books for the next 12 months and get them all read (and avoid being skint into the bargain). Will I? Will I ‘eck as like.

    But of those 158 I am shocked at myself for not reading Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behavio(u)r’ and Lawrence Norfolk’s ‘John Saturnall’s Feast’ since both were books I’d been looking forward to for months prior to their release. Also Robert Edric’s ‘The Devil’s Beat’ – he writes one book a year and since I read ‘Peacetime’ I’ve always read his new one, yet this year (though I’ve started it a couple of times) I just haven’t got around to it. In part this is because the more I read of him, the more I realise he essentially writes the same book every time, but still, I feel like I’ve betrayed him in some way.
    And then there’s Joyce Carol Oates, but my excuse is that while I love her books, it’s hard to keep up with everything she puts out and I’m lagging far behind – I’ve read two of hers this year but they’re from a few years ago. In 2012 she seems to have released a staggering four books (I have three of them) with at least three more due in 2013! You’ll see when I send you my ‘Other People’s Bookshelves’ photos what keeping up with Oates looks like – I’ve only been reading her since 2001 and already she has a shelf and a half to herself: the eternal shoulda woulda coulda (if only I had the time) author!

    • Again, as per usual, I will not be able to do this comment justice David! Ha!

      I gave my copy of the Kingsolver to my Gran who is a HUGE fan but hasn’t read it as yet! I am yet to read any Eldric and I have two of his books so I really should pull my finger out with that one, I have been meaning to read him for ages, same with Joyce Carol Oates actually.

  6. I haven’t even read Wolf Hall yet, but got hold of it recently so hope to soon.
    I also want to read the Casual Vacancy and haven’t so far. I heard pretty good things about it.

    • I have heard generally good things about The Casual Vacancy too. I am going into it very open minded. In my head it will be Kate Atkinson-esque, maybe that does mean I am expecting too much after all?

      I looooooved Wolf Hall. Enjoy that, my Mum recently has.

  7. 400 pages into Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, the book she wrote 20 years ago about the French revolution, there are another 400 still to go, but sadly little inclination to pick it up for now.

  8. I too have been meaning to read HHhH and have it on a frozen hold at the library, although Gaskella’s year-end roundup has made me a bit wary. You both make me want to read John Saturnall’s Feast which I now realize would fit the “servants” theme of my book salon next month.

    I also want to read When Nights Were Cold but I’m not sure it is out in the US yet. At least it’s not in the library catalog. And anything by Hilary Mantel at this point–I feel so behind on that score.

    I did get to The Lifeboat and Skios both of which I’d recommend with reservations. But they are both quick reads.

    • Ooh whats your reservations with The Lifeboat? I didn’t love Skios.

      I still want to know how these themed salons work, tell me… please…

      • I liked The Lifeboat, but some people feel a bit tricked by the narrator, or just don’t like her, both of which I understand. I thought Skios started off great, but didn’t really live up to the promising beginning. And it’s so not a Booker book (in my mind).

        Announcement re: the book salon and how it works will come via Goodreads tomorrow, I promise!

  9. I haven’t read Wolf Hall Yet but I hope to in 2013. Casual Vacancy coulda since It was given to me for my birthday, but never managed to pick it up. Hopefully it will be read at some point in JAnuary, 2013 of course. 🙂

  10. There’s still some precious time left in 2012! I’m desperately trying to fit my shoulda woulda couldas into the next few weeks. Having just finished The Age Of Miracles, I’m halfway through Alys, Always by Harriet Lane and have Rites by Sophie Coulombeau lined up next. Would have liked to have managed Gone Girl and The Lifeboat too…so many books, so little time!

    • I managed to fit in a couple of last minute wanted to reads so that was nice, none were the ones on this list though.

      I just got Alys, Always from the charity book shelf in the local grocers for 50p, I was thrilled. Pristine paperback too! I am looking forward to that in 2013.

  11. Well, I do from people’s lists of the year, but never from their 2012 picks! And mostly from my own shelves, the books I wish I’d read… I think I only read one book published in 2012, but it was very good.

  12. few translations there simon ! building stories is on I missed and would like to try ,merry christmas ,all the best stu

    • I know, I know, I know… BUT I will be catching up with blogs, including yours obviously, in the next week and so will be adding lots of the books you loved to my list of reading material!

  13. Louise Trolle

    Well, I was meaning to make my TBR pile smaller, but actually when all’ said and done, I have 109 MORE books in it now…
    I would have liked – and had planned to – read “Ready Player One”, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, “1Q84” and “The Last Werewolf”.

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