Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The 10 Best Books of 2012

Original Image From Harvest Books
...or at least the best books I read in 2012 that I think all of you should read! Certainly I didn't read ALL THE BOOKS. No matter what my family thinks (I am, admittedly, a rather voracious reader).

All Book Images From Amazon

Gone Girl  will be an ubiquitous  entry on the Best Books of 2012 lists. There's a reason. It's a really, really good read. I started it after dinner one night and J woke up at 2am to find me still enthralled with it. Sometimes its nice to read a well-plotted novel full of interesting characters that isn't trying to redefine the genre.

I couldn't help casting it in my head, and it's a shame about Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe's divorce because they are MEANT to play the main characters. Add in Sarah Michelle Gellar as Phillipe's sister and we'd have a Cruel Intentions reunion. Which would be nothing short of awesome.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business explains the psychology of habit. It also delves into how corporations utilize our habits to make us better consumers. The New York Times ran an excerpt explaining how Target can predict which customers are pregnant. Freaky.

Imagine: How Creativity Works demystifies creativity, explaining the historical, cultural, and environmental factors behind individual creativity and creative movements. The good news is that anyone can harvest their own imagination by reconsidering their preconceptions of how creativity works. As a frustrated novelist I found it fascinating, informative, and helpful.

UPDATE: My brilliant friend the Englishist informed me Jonah Lehrer was accused of self-plagiarism and problems with attributions regarding this work and some of his other journalism. I enjoyed the book, but find plagiarism abhorrent (although I find self-plagiarism to be a complex topic, Lehrer's was apparently rather blatant. The issues with attributions are more troubling).

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel's author, Melanie Benjamin also wrote Alice I Have Been about the girl who inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I loved that book. I equally loved "Mrs. Tom Thumb." Benjamin creates worlds you simply fall into and characters whom seem incredibly real, no matter how strange the circumstances. Plus I find descriptions of circuses and other traveling shows from the 19th and 20th centuries reliably fascinating.

John Irving's In One Person feels like an old-fashioned novel in the best possible sense. There's a rootable if deeply flawed narrator and a character driven plot. The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp are two of my favorite novels of the post-WWII era. This book is just as good.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West is simply amazing. It covers the adventures of two rich young women in 1916 who want more out of life than tea parties, so they volunteer to teach out west. This decision completely changes their lives in amazing ways. Non-fiction, but reads like a great novel. If you ever read These Happy Golden Years and wondered what Laura's first teaching job was really like for her...this helps provide context for an answer.

The House of Velvet and Glass is the follow up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Just like in "Dane" Howe creates a magical New England full of atmosphere and complicated, well-drawn women dealing with the ties of families and the pull of history.

Next to Love was maybe my favorite book of the year. I just loved it. Feldman creates complicated women who must send their men overseas in WWII and then deal with the fall out after the war ends. Her portrayal of PTSD in returning vets is just amazing, and as the wife of a vet I found it deeply touching. I also love how she realistically weaves in how history effects the fabric of every day life for these women, but in different and surprising ways. I really can't recommend this enough.

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance is a lot of fun, and full of interesting information about how Claiborne (amongst others, like Julia Child) changed the  food culture in America with the power of his New York Times column and how what he started continues to inform food trends today.

The Age of Miracleis a heart-breaking, mind-twisting what if of a book. The world starts turning more slowly and we experience what that means through an incredibly fleshed out young girl. I kept thinking about her experiences and the vulnerability of existence way after I finished the book.

So. What books did y'all read and love this year?


  1. Thanks for the recommendations! I really need to get more reading done this coming year (which might mean accepting that I'm never actually going to finish Team of Rivals and moving on....)

    1. If you give up on Team on Rivals read the chapter about the assassination. I had no idea how complex the plotting was! Also, life is to short to finish a book that isn't doing it for you. I gave up on the "Casual Vacancy."

  2. Thanks very much! My book club is always looking for books and so I use it as a means of advancing my "I want to read" agenda.

    p.s. I found this link on Pinterest but you didn't pin a permanent link to this post, just the general url of your blog so when you have a new post, the pin won't lead people directly to this post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, felicity. And thanks for telling me about Pinterest! That's what I get for pinning early in the morning.

  3. Hi there, the January edition of Books You Loved is open for entries. Here is the link Books You Loved January Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book/s you loved. Maybe this post? Cheers and Happy New Year!

  4. Thanks for linking this in. We are starting to get a lovely collection of book links. I have just signed up to follow you. A follow back to Carole's Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers

  5. "Nothing Daunted" sounds like one I might like. My husband and I made two list of favorites for 2012--one fiction and one non-fiction.

  6. They do look good. I have not read any of them, but have read Melanie Benjamin's book, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE...excellent.


    THANKS for sharing.

    My featured book is SEVEN LOCKS.

    Stopping by from Carole's January Books I Loved. I am in that list as # 46.

    I have a favorite of 2012 list on my blog if you care to take a peek. :)

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog


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