Once again, it’s time for my annual best books of the last year list, or call it one librarian’s attempt to find good stuff to read.
It was a year when J.K. Rowling published her first non-Harry Potter book, and her first book written strictly for adults. It was good, but it certainly wasn’t Harry Potter.
I have to admit to you that I put off writing my list until almost the last minute for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that there would be an end of the year and not the end of the world. Second, it gave me a chance to squeeze in another book or two. I’m sure many of you can understand the reality that there’s never enough time to read all the books that you want to read, probably should read, or have to read. With this realization in mind, and several books still piled up at home waiting to be read, you will find my list of the best books from 2012 below. You can find these and many, many more titles at your local library.
May you all have a happy and wonderful new year filled with joy, serenity, and lots and lots of good books.
“Age of Miracles” by Karen Walker. This first novel posits what would happen if the Earth’s rotation began slowing down, making days and nights longer. On one hand, it’s a big idea novel that discusses the effects this change has on the world. It’s also a family drama, as well as a coming of age novel through the eyes of its young protagonist. Whichever way you slice it, it’s a great book.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. Another family drama/coming of age novel but with a whole lot of humor, snarky dialogue and fascinating characters that make you keep turning the pages.
“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. This was the first book in Oprah’s 2.0 Book Club, so there was a lot of talk around this one. I read it to see what all the fuss was about and found it to be a fascinating memoir about a young woman dealing with the death of her mother, and the downward spiral her life took afterwards, by walking a large part of the Pacific Coast Trail.
“Among Others” by Jo Walton. This incredibly well-written novel has won all of the recent science fiction and fantasy awards, and deservedly so. It is a coming of age story, a love letter to classic science fiction and fantasy, and a modern tale of the fantastic all bundled up into one glorious read.
“Blasphemy” by Sherman Alexie. A new book by Sherman Alexie is always a reason to celebrate. While there are some older stories from earlier collections here, it’s the new stories that blow the reader away. Alexie writing short stories is an artist doing what he does best.
“2312” by Kim Stanley Robinson. Robinson’s books are a mixed bag for me. His “Mars Trilogy” was fantastic but I haven’t enjoyed some of his others as much. However, this fascinating look at what our solar system might look like in 300 years is Robinson at his best. If you like your science fiction technologically advanced but with very “human” characters and issues, this is the book for you.
“Bartender’s Tale” by Ivan Doig. Doig is one of the finest living western writers and this new book does not disappoint. It’s the story of a Montana bar owner who brings his precocious son back to live with him. It’s an interesting story about an unusual family and what happens when two women step into their lives and change everything.
“Drop Dead Healthy” by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs has written about reading the encyclopedia, spending a year living biblically, and now in his latest, fascinating, funny and fabulous, book he takes on a variety of different ways of living healthier to see if he can become the world’s healthiest person.
“The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln” by Stephen Carter. The premise for this masterful book is that Lincoln survived his assassination attempt and sees the end of the war, only to be impeached. This fascinating book is told from the unique perspective of a young black woman who is hired by the law firm defending the president.
“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver has written a beautiful story about a flawed but fascinating character and climate change. Not only the climate change that impacts the environment, bringing thousands of monarch butterflies to West Virginia in the winter, but climate change of the heart as well.