All right, I realize that talking about last year’s books is so… 2012. But I could never quite see the point of making a year’s “best of” list in the middle of December—did we not all have a holiday coming up that often involved travel, or enforced downtime, or family who needed to be tactfully escaped? What about that one book you saved for New Year’s eve that turned out to be a life-changer? OK, I do understand that the December 31st cutoff is on the arbitrary side. But I wanted to wait until the year had officially rolled over before trotting out my favorite lists, just in case.
The New Yorker gets on my best list list this year. They asked some of their writers to point out favorites, and the resulting collection is a fun one—eclectic and a good source of recommendations, depending on whose taste you might align with. And because the first installment overflowed its virtual boundaries, there is a postscript as well.
GalleyCat offers its Most Overlooked Books of 2012, with samples. I’m not sure if Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore or The People of Forever are Not Afraid count as overlooked at this point—I’ve seen them on a number of other lists already—but all in all, it’s an interestingly under-the-radar assortment.
Gently Read Literature always finds the good stuff that isn’t getting a lot of play elsewhere. Their top Fiction and Poetry books reviewed in 2012 constitute a good argument for subscribing ($10 for three hefty issues a year).
Speaking of Open Letters Monthly people, I always trust Steve Donoghue to point me toward the coolest nature books (among other things), and I love this list on Stevereads—and not just because the first one up comes from my sometimes workplace and I’ve gotten the chance look under the hood and ascertain that it is, indeed, exquisite. I own a few of these books, and I’ll probably be bumping them up the pile, just because.
And while it’s not exactly a best-of, take a look at the titles in Melville House’s Art of the Novella Subscription Series—there’s not a one I’d kick out of my mailbox.
And of course it’s always a good idea to ask your friends what they think as well. The Millions’ Year in Reading series always turns up something you didn’t know you needed, but also take a look at Karen the Small Press Librarian’s Best of Small Press picks by a great roundup of small press authors.
Obviously I’ve missed a few. Over at Largehearted Boy, David Gutowski has taken on the brave task of compiling all the year-end best-of-2012 book lists into one breathtaking stack. But before you dive in, make sure to check out David’s own selection of his favorite short story collections of 2012. Form follows function here: It’s short, sweet, and good all the way through.
So here’s to 2012, and all the unread books of 2013. Gentlemen, start your engines.