As the year draws to a close, it’s no surprise to see “best of” lists appearing everywhere online. I’m always interested in these and sometimes even more interested in checking out the accompanying comments. Everyone it seems has an opinion about “the best” and many of us express our opinions on this topic with great, shall we say, energy. Here’s a roundup of some recent top reads lists.
NPR publishes several targeted lists each year. Lists for 2012 include:
- Best Mysteries
- Indie Booksellers Picks — an annual feature that usually highlights more off-beat titles
- Book Club Reads
- “Back Seat” Reads — the year’s best books for readers ages 9 to 14
- Best Science Fiction
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: life, death and hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
- Far From the Tree: parents, children, and the search for identity by Andrew Solomon
Goodreads, the popular “social cataloging” website has announced its Choice Awards for 2012. Readers vote for the best books in a wide range of categories including Paranormal Fantasy, Food and Cookbooks, Graphic Novels and Poetry. Some top picks include the following—all available at DCPL.
- The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (Best Fiction)
- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (Best Historical Fiction)
- Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain (Best Non-Fiction)
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: a mostly true memoir by Jenny Lawson (Best Humor)
- Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer (Best Picture Book)
Reading through these lists has, quite naturally, led me to select my own “best reads” for the year. They are as follows:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, an incredibly original thriller which appears on several best of lists this year. I loved it but be aware—its merits are being hotly debated in a number of comments threads.
The Good Life: the moral individual in an antimoral world by Cheryl Mendelson. This is a provocative, moving, and extremely timely study of the idea of “morality” and its appropriation by those who claim it exclusively for themselves. This is an inspiring and hopeful book—just right for times like these—by the author of my favorite book on the subject of keeping house Home Comforts: the art and science of keeping house.
Lost At Sea: the Jon Ronson mysteries by Jon Ronson. This book of essays, from the author of The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare At Goats, explores a fascinating variety of subjects that range from the surprising religious beliefs of the duo who are Insane Clown Posse to sentient robots who communicate with humans (really!). Ronson isn’t afraid to explore dark edges where what we think of as reality threatens to collapse at any moment and he manages to do so with a great deal of humor. I couldn’t put this one down.
Finally, my pick for the hands down best book that I read in 2012 is one that I would go so far as to call life-changing. Liberating, original, thoroughly readable—I posted about it here—it is Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain. I think that J’nai might have liked it too.
What are your top picks for 2012?