I love a good "Best of the Year" book list, whether it's finding my personal favorites on the lists of critics whom I respect or discovering great books that must have slid past my radar upon publication. Also, "Best of" lists often help me find good books to give as gifts during the holiday season (if I haven't asked one of our awesome librarians for recommendations, that is). In the spirit of reflection and analysis that naturally arises at the end of the year, I thought I'd put together my own "Best Books of 2012" list, featuring my favorite novels. As always, you can check out any of these titles from the Free Library!
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green-- Insightful. Heartbreaking. Phenomenal. I dare you not to fall madly in love with this book (or cry while you're reading it).
2. NW by Zadie Smith -- With her uncanny ear for dialogue and her precise focus on language, structure, and character, Zadie Smith can do no wrong in my book (though The Autograph Man comes close). If you enjoyed White Teeth and On Beauty, you will love NW, which explores the divergent lives of four diverse Londoners, all the while artfully deconstructing the very form of the novel itself.
3. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey -- Margot Livesey takes the classic story of Jane Eyre and sets it in modern Scotland in this warm, coming-of-age tale of identity, independence, and love.
4. Maphead by Ken Jennings -- I know the hardcover technically came out in late 2011, but I picked up the paperback edition when it was published in the spring of 2012, so I'm counting it for this year! Maphead is an entertaining exploration of the underground world of geography nerds, from geocaching to the antique map business to the National Geography Bee. A fascinating and fun read!
5. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling -- Confession time: I've never read any of the Harry Potter books. I know, I know. But the premise of JK Rowling's first novel for adults--a black comedy of local politics--caught my attention, and I thoroughy enjoyed her well-paced and well-plotted send-up of the simultaneous absurdity and authenticity of modern, small town life.
Happy end-of-year reading! What books would make it onto your personal "Best of" list?