Best of 2012
It's that happy time of year when everyone is writing lists of their favorite books of the year. I've read and reviewed 181 books this year (and that doesn't even include the other seventy-five children's nonfiction picture books that I read but haven't yet reviewed.) That's probably more books than that silly Michiko Kakutani of New York Times fame read (though I should acknowledge that she undoubted reads more carefully than I do.)
Here are some random thoughts about my 2012 reading.
Travel narratives. Let me tell you, I read a lot of travel narratives last year. A lot. Some of my memorable travel narrative reads were Sahara, a fun adventure across the African desert with Michael Palin; The Voluntourist, in which we follow author Ken Budd as he helps out and travels at the same time; Visit Sunny Chernobyl, as author Andrew Blackwell leads us to the parts of the world man has done a pretty good job (bad job?) of destroying; Sideways on a Scooter, where Miranda Kennedy takes us up close and personal into the lives of Indian women; as well as Turn Right at Machu Picchu; Trip of the Tongue; Lost City of Z; and, of course, the trip that led to life change for Cheryl Strayed, Wild; and an intense look at Indian poverty, Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
YA. Typically, I don't read a lot of YA, but this year I read some brilliant YA books, including A Monster Calls, The Fault in Our Stars, Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight; Why We Broke Up; Across the Universe, and I Am the Messenger.
History. This was a great year for reading history. I found a lot of wonderful history books out there and this year I happily devoured Berlin 1961, In the Garden of the Beasts, Lost in Shangri-La, Floor of Heaven, Eight Pieces of Empire, and Eat the City.
Happiness. Reading about happiness...well, it makes me happy. Anne Lamott came out with her thin but thoughtful Help Thanks Wow. I ran across a fabulous book on mindfulness that I find myself browsing a little almost every day, How to Train a Wild Elephant. And Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin came out with a new happiness project, Happiness at Home.
Education. I'm always eager to read anything I can find on education. This year, I learned a lot from Readicide, Fire in the Ashes, and Saving the School.
Poetry. Love, love, love the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry. I've had it for months now, but it still remains in an honored spot on my nightstand. And the clever How to Be Perfect.
Map-pish Books. Oddly, I read two excellent books that focused on maps, Maphead and On the Map. A little worried that I may be turning into a map geek.
France. If a book comes out about France, Amazon knows to alert me immediately. This year I spent July in Paris reading Sweet Life in Paris, Le Road Trip, and Paris in Love.
Foodie Books. The Table Comes First and Beaten, Seared, and Sauced were the only two great foodie books this year. I see I've definitely slowed down in this category. Must do better in 2013.
Children's Books. We are right in the middle of some hot and heavy discussions about the Cybils nonfiction picture books, so I hope you will excuse me from talking about these until the shortlist is announced in a few weeks. I also read some wonderful children's chapter books this year, including Kate DiCamillo's Magician's Elephant; the very sad Inside Out & Back Again; Spindlers, TIME for Kids Big Book of What, and Order of Odd Fish; and four great stories from the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read List: The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm, Parvana's Journey, Artemis Fowl, The Adventures of Polly and the Wolf.
Essays. I spent many happy hours reading essays this year, especially Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books.
Fiction. Lots of good fiction reads this year, including Shoemaker's Wife; Where'd You Go, Bernadette; Forgotten Country; Maine; Safe Within; How It All Began; Buddha in the Attic; 1Q84; Sara Levine's funny Treasure Island!; Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes; Light Between Oceans; Wife 22; Smokin' Seventeen; and The Dog Stars.
Without further ado, here is my official Best of 2012 (in no particular order):
2. Le Road Trip
3. How to Be Perfect
4. Buddha in the Attic
5. Physics of the Future
6. Treasure Island!!!
7. Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
8. A Room with a View
9. Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry
10. We Sinners
What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
What were your favorites of 2012?
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