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I read a number of good books but hands down my favorite that I read in 2012 was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

This is from Amazon: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?

Ready Player One was the best book I read this year, and the best in recent memory. My wife — who isn't into video games or much of 80's culture — loved it as well.

I wouldn't class Ready Player One as the best book of 2012, but it was certainly enjoyable (when I read it in 2011). I prefer This Is Not A Game and Pattern Recognition in this genre; also worth checking out is Tad Williams' Otherland series.

I can confirm that Pattern Recognition is (in my memory) even better than Ready Player One, which is also an amazing book. Thanks for the others, didn't know about them.

In what way is Pattern Recognition similar to Ready Player One? I was intrigued by the description of RPO, but when I read you talking about Pattern Recognition being in the same genre, I was really confused.

I thought Pattern Recognition was truly awful and couldn't finish it.

I classify them all as kind of cyberpunk/ARG fiction. Pattern Recognition takes place more in the physical world than Ready Player One, but they are both digital treasure hunts. As an ARG junkie, they naturally feel the 'same' to me. The style of writing is quite different though, and Gibson's style in Pattern Recognition isn't as fun to read as Ready Player One.

Sounds like Snow Crash! Snow Crash was one of the best I read this year, I'll put Ready Player One on my list!

Anathem and Cryptonomicon are very different from Snow Crash but they are Neil Stephensons crowning jewels. I recommend you give them a go.

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