Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best of 2012

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

Enough rambling.

Without further ado, here is my official Best of 2012 (in no particular order):

1. 1Q84

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?

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. I liked 1Q84 quite a bit and also a novel told by a young girl, set in wartime Cambodia - In the Shadow of the Banyan. I also liked State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, set in the Amazon jungles, and a mystery by Tana French set in Ireland, Broken Harbor.

    I do like international settings, and The Road Trip looks appealing. I haven't read the others on your list but will remember them!

  2. I must check out your favorites. Thank you!

  3. I really want to read 1Q84!
    Great list :)
    Samantha @ The Secret Life of a Bookworm

  4. I want to read 1Q84 but I keep putting it off because it's so HUGE! Will get to it eventually though :) I haven't read any of the other books on your actual list, but I either loved or want to read all the YA books you mentioned.
    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  5. I loved A Room with a View, such a great book!

  6. You are quite a prolific reader! I'm glad you found some great YA selections this year. I also loved "The Fault in Our Stars." I avoided it for the longest time because I heard it would make you cry, but I'm so glad I finally picked it up. I've been wanting to read "Why We Broke Up" since it's by the Lemony Snicket guy but I just haven't gotten to it yet!

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! I've returned the favor and also followed you because you have good taste in books ;)

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

  7. I loved 1Q84 as well. I am not enjoying Buddha though. I may have given up on it.

  8. Great list! I've been seeing a lot about A Monster Calls. I must check this out!

    YA Vixens Top Ten Tues!

  9. I haven't actually read anyone on your list, but I think I'll look into the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry, because I love poetry!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

  10. Thank for the comprehensive list! I'll definitely be adding some of these books to my Goodreads list!

  11. I really want to read Across the Universe, and Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is on my list too! Here’s my TTT list: http://aliceinreaderland.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/top-books/

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  12. Read Murakami's book but it wasn't my favourite book by him or this year. My favourite poetry anthology was identity Parade - British & Irish poetry.

  13. You name some impressive titles, and I have some of those on my to-read list.

  14. I loved Across the Universe and have The Fault in Our Stars sitting in my TBR pile! Great list!!

    Thanks for stopping by my TTT Post!!

    New Follower :D

  15. Wow...you read a lot of books. A lot. None of which I've read (well..I read Smokin' Seventeen a few years back...). I also asked for Wild for Christmas...so we'll see!

  16. I'm not surprised to see I Am the Messenger on your list. Now I want to re-read it! The Buddha in the Attic is another beautiful book. Now I need to put some of your favorites on hold at the library.

  17. Aw, I didn't enjoy 1Q84 at all! But I know I'm part of the minority in that. The Fault in our Stars was beautiful though!

  18. I also liked Buddha in the Attic, which was so beautifully written. And Visit Sunny Chernobyl was fascinating!

  19. Oo, I haven't heard of most of these, more to add to the TBR list :D I'm a new follower! Here is my TTT

  20. Looks like you've done a lot of reading this year. I've read quite a few books too, but none of your top ten.


  21. Interesting list. I did see some recognizable books in your narrative before the list, like Why We Broke Up (I don't reach much YA either); Happiness at Home; and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (loved that one!).

    I also read We Sinners, but that one annoyed me, from some reason. The writing style felt chaotic...perhaps that's not the word. Interesting, though, how we all enjoy different things. I am sure my experience with the book had more to do with my own (similar) childhood and the emotions evoked.

    Thanks for sharing, and here's MY SUNDAY SALON POST

  22. OH, that is such an amazing list of books you've read and highlighted!! I must admit, I haven't read them, but had heard of them. I will be adding your suggestions to my TBR list!! I hope you have a wonderful Merry Christmas and enjoy your break :D

  23. Great choices!!! I am so excited to read several of the titles on your list!

  24. I'm reading 1Q84 and won't be finished with it this year, I don't think. I'm not sure if it will make the list next year, but it's pretty good so far.

  25. Interesting mix of faves, some I'm not familiar with but Le Road Trip and The Buddah in the Attic are on my wishlist.

  26. I'm really going to have to move Le Road Trip up the TBR!


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