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My List: Best Books Read in 2012

I read 42 books during 2012, for a total of 5,852 pages of print and just slightly more than 137 hours of unabridged audiobooks.

Most best books of 2012 lists include only books issued this year. But my list includes anything I read during the year, regardless of when it was published. The oldest book was John C. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-by from 1964. My list also includes both fiction and nonfiction.

Listed alphabetically by author:

Top Ten

Didion, Joan. Blue Nights

Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl

French, Tana. The Likeness

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Koppel, Lily. The Red Leather Diary

Lippman, Laura. I’d Know You Anywhere

McDermid, Val. The Mermaids Singing

Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas

Sankovitch, Nina. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

Towles, Amor. Rules of Civility

Honorable Mention

Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

Genova, Lisa. Left Neglected

Gornick, Vivian. Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives:  Five Victorian Marriages

Levinson, Leila. Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma

New Year Reading Resolution

As this list demonstrates, I don’t review many of the books I read, even my favorite ones. So my one resolution for this year I to write about more of the books I read so that a year from now I’ll be able to provide links for most of the entries on my best books list.

And here are a couple of other lists of book-related resolutions:

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Book Recommendations

2 Big Lists of Best Books Lists

What’s better than a “best of 2012 books list”? Why, a list of “best of 2012 books” lists.

Here are two such lists of lists:

Online “Best of 2012” Book Lists

From Largehearted Boy.

The Best of the Book Lists 2012

From Random House

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Book Recommendations

Even More Best Books of 2012 Lists

Book Riot Readers’ Top 25 Books of 2012

A couple weeks ago, we invited you to join in the end-of-year list making fun and share your favorite books of 2012. 530 of you answered the call, listing 572 individual titles. Click here to see all titles submitted and their corresponding vote counts. (Note: 33 entries were thrown out because the books were not published in 2012.) There were no genre, age, or audience restrictions. Anything published in 2012 was fair game. Without further ado, here are your top 25 books of 2012.

And if you haven’t yet discovered the Book Riot site, this is a very good way to get acquainted.

Notable Books We Read in 2012

The folks at Delancey Place send out a daily email that they describe like this:

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, primarily historical in focus, and will occasionally be controversial. Finally, we hope that the selections will resonate beyond the subject of the book from which they were excerpted.

Here’s a great list of nonfiction books that probably contributed to some of those daily mailings.

Best of 2012: 50 notable works of nonfiction

From the Washington Post.

World’s 10 most favourite books in 2012

It’s always good to get an idea of what people in other parts of the world care about. This list is from The Times of India.

Now You’re Talking! The Year’s Best Book Club Reads

NPR’s Lynn Neary lists these as the year’s best books for book group discussion:

  • The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  • NW by Zadie Smith
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Books 2012: David L. Ulin

What made 2012 a compelling year in reading? For me, it was the return of the novel of ideas. These are novels that both portray and reflect upon the spirit of their moment, telling not just a story but using it to illustrate something about the world in which we live. It’s been an endangered form since at least the early 1960s, when Philip Roth wrote that reality “is continually outdoing our talents, and the culture tosses up figures daily that are the envy of any novelist.”

Read Ulin’s list of 10 favorite novels of ideas.

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Book Recommendations

Yet Another Batch of Best Books of 2012 Lists

Yes, they just keep rolling in.

The 10 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings (and if you haven’t yet subscribed to her site in some format, you’ll definitely want to) chooses the best of the year’s books in psychology and philosophy—plus a bonus choice. And, as an added bonus, this post links to her list of the year’s best science, art, and design books.

Best books – an epic Christmas list

To add an international perspective, here’s a huge list from the New Zealand Herald.

The best books of 2012

Another big list, this one from Australia’s The Border Mail.

A Year in Reading 2012

The Millions has asked its contributors for their best books lists. This post contains links to those links, which will be rolled out through December.

Paging through annual best writing collections

For something a bit different, Jim Higgins of the Milwakuee Journal Sentinel looks as some of those “best of” anthologies that appear at this time of year:

  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012
  • The Best Science Writing Online 2012
  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012
  • The Best American Essays 2012
  • The Best American Short Stories 2012
  • The Best Business Writing 2012
  • The Best American Comics 2012

Books of the year: Page turners

The best books of 2012 were about Richard Burton, Titian, Rin Tin Tin, the revolution in Iran, the great famine in China, secret houses in London, good oil companies, bad pharma and management in ten words

Here’s another megalist that covers the following categories:

  • politics and current affairs
  • biography and memoir
  • history
  • economics and business
  • science and technology
  • culture, society, sport and travel
  • fiction, essays, and poetry

Books of the Year 2012: Memoirs

The Independent (from the U. K.) recommends several outstanding memoirs. This page also includes links to the paper’s recommendations in several other categories.

DavidPrestidge: Top five books of 2012

For mystery lovers, here are some suggestions from Crime Fiction Lover.

Adam Woog’s best mysteries of 2012

The crime-fiction columnist for The Seattle Times also has some favorites.

 

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Book Recommendations List

Still More Best Books of 2012 Lists

The 10 Best Books of 2012

The venerable New York Times has declared its choices for the year’s 10 (5 fiction, 5 nonfiction) books.

New York Times Best Of 2012: Alternative Reads

But the folks at Huffington Post take issue with the New York Times‘s choices, calling its list “pretty dull” and also, apparently, pretty homogenized:

Three women out of ten. One person of color. Books about the achievements of Great White Men (preferably Kings, presidents or Kennedys.) A book about classical philosophy.

So Huff Post offers its own list of 10.

10 best books of 2012

Newsday has its 10-best list, too.

Christmas gifts 2012: the best crime and thriller books

As selected by Laura Wilson of The [U. K.] Guardian.

Our 50 favorite books of 2012

“So here are 25 fiction and 25 nonfiction titles that reviewers recommend.”

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Best Books Of 2012: The Complete List

I may have linked to individual lists from NPR before, but this is the master list, the mother lode.

Goodreads Choice Awards

Readers have spoken! See what they’ve picked as the year’s best books in several categories.

Best books: a list of what’s listed

Finally (at least for now), Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor for The Seattle Times, has scoured the major lists of 2012’s best books to find the true winners: the titles that appear on 2-4 major lists.

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Book Recommendations List

More Best Books of 2012 Lists

Here’s quite a variety of new lists of the best books of 2012.

The Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns Next Monday

Author John Scalzi will offer a shopping guide to which you can contribute:

So: Starting Monday, December 3rd, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets up to 50,000 visitors daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

Check out this post for his schedule.

Christmas gifts 2012: the best science fiction

And speaking of John Scalzi, here’s the illustration from The [U. K.] Guardian‘s science fiction recommendations:

USS Enterprise
Boldly going: John Scalzi’s novel Redshirts stirs up memories of the original Star Trek. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Christmas gifts 2012: the best sport books

And speaking of The Guardian, here’s its list of best sports books. This page also includes links to the newspaper’s recommendations in other categories.

BookPage Best Books of 2012

BookPage offers a top-50 list: “Though reading choices—and rankings!—are intensely personal, we think our top 50 has something for every reader.”

2012 Books: Slate Staff Picks

The editors, designers, and columnists of online magazine Slate offer choices that include both fiction and nonfiction.

Notable Children’s Books of 2012

The New York Times has suggestions for various ages.

The 100 best books of 2012

An extensive list from the Listener of New Zealand.

Whatcom County librarians select best 2012 books for young readers

From Washington State, USA: “several local librarians who specialize in children’s literature were asked to name their favorite books from 2012 for children at a variety of reading levels.”

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Book Recommendations List

Best Books of 2012: More Lists

Here are a few more entries for this year’s list of lists:

The 10 best books of 2012

From The Washington Post. Presents five selections each in fiction and nonfiction.

There are also links to other lists: best graphic novels of 2012, 50 notable works of fiction, 50 notable works of nonfiction, best audiobooks of 2012.

Books of the year 2012: authors choose their favourites

From The [U. K.] Guardian, recommendations from some well-known authors.

The Globe’s top 29 picks for international fiction of 2012

An extensive list from Canada’s The Globe and Mail. Also includes links for Canadian fiction, and graphic novels and poetry.

Best Books 2012

A list from the Irish Examiner that includes the following categories:

  • biography
  • essays
  • fiction
  • history
  • memoir
  • music
  • science
  • short stories
  • sport