The Best Book … of Venice:

Monumental Venice by Jacques Boulay (photos) & Jean-Philippe Follet (text)

The Best Reprint:

Tottel’s Miscellany, edited by Amanda Holton

The Best Nature Book:

The Last Walk by Jessica Pierce

The Best Fiction Debut:

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

The Best Biography:

Clover Adams by Natalie Dykstra

The Best History:

The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

The Worst Fiction:

Dear Life by Alice Munro

The Worst Nonfiction:

When I Was a Child, I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson

The Best Fiction:

The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman

The Best Nonfiction:

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Thanks very much to all of you who’ve commented (so many privately, of course – after all, what would I want with anything so recherche as a thriving Comments field? Sigh) on this year’s bigger-than-ever Year End spectacular – and on all the other posts that have made up Stevereads this year. 2012 was the single most active reading-year (if that’s not a contradiction!) of my life, both in terms of reading (as of this warm, rainy Boston night, my yearly tally stands somewhere near 725 books) and in terms of writing: between all of my different venues – but mainly, of course, by virtue of the wonderful bully pulpit my colleagues give me at Open Letters Weekly – I wrote about somewhere in the neighborhood of 320 books over the course of the year.

That was a singularly thrilling experience for a book-lover such as myself, and of course it can be improved! Imagine a book review every single day – or even two a day, one on Stevereads and one on Open Letters Weekly (on the latter, for instance, I wrote only about 207 1000-word reviews – shocking sloth, when you consider how many days off that means I had!). I imagine such things – I imagine a year in which I write a review of every single major book published in English in any of the genres I know and love (so: the business and self-help books will still largely need to fend for themselves). I imagine an even full engagement with the book-world in the only really meaningful way: by reading everything, and writing about it all for a smart audience.

No matter what the future brings, however, I wanted to take a minute here in my last entry for 2012 to thank you all for agreeing, disagreeing, counter-arguing, counter-suggesting, and most of all for reading me, not just in 2012 but for the last wonderful six years here at Stevereads. Honestly, it’s a thrill such as I never thought to have – and of course it’s been a huge amount of fun. Here’s wishing all of you much happy reading in the new year.

  • Lisa Hill

    Great to see your choice of The Street Sweeper as Fiction Book of the Year. I thought it was brilliant too:)

  • Petey

    And thank YOU, Mr. Donoghue, for providing me with the most stimulating, sensitive, occasionally exasperating, but always utterly intelligent literary criticism this side of the TLS. I speak sincerely when I say that a new post on Stevereads is a moment of joy on even the most melancholy day.

  • elle

    You can look at, peruse, scan 725 books in one year, but you cannot read 725 books in one year.

  • Steve Donoghue

    Hee – thanks for the pompous, idiotic proclamation, elle! As you can tell from the last year of Stevereads and Open Letters Weekly, I don’t even BOTHER to ‘look at, peruse, scan’ the books I review – I mostly just glance at the covers. Yeesh – some people.

  • Dorian Stuber

    I consider myself pretty well-read, but what I love most about your blog is the sense it gives me of all kinds of as-yet unexplored literary worlds. I second Petey’s comment: I eagerly await new posts, even when they’re about things I don’t think I’m interested in. Thanks for your engaging, irascible, exasperating, and thought-provoking criticism.

    PS I’d love to see a post on how you make the time to read those 725 books.

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