Favorite Books from 2012

favorite books 2012

I am horrible at choosing favorites of anything, so please don’t consider this an ultimate “best of” list, but these are a few of my favorite books that were published in 2012.

Best Conversation Starter: Susan Cain’s Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking has gotten everyone talking about personality types. It’s also been tremendously affirming to introverts living in our extroverted culture, and enlightening to the extroverts who love them. I named Quiet a book that makes me feel like I’m not crazy. (I had a hard time picking this one up because I feared it would be boring. Have no fear: this is a page-turner.)

Best Memoir to Make You Laugh and Cry on the Same Page: Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, Kelle Hampton. Life changed in an instant for Kelle Hampton when her second child was unexpectedly born with Down Syndrome. In Bloom, she relates the grief–and the joy–that little Nella brought her.

Best Christian Book to Make You Really Uncomfortable (in a Good Way): 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker. When Hatmaker noticed 7 areas of blatant excess–food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending,and stress–in her middle-class lifeshe resolved to spend 7 months fasting from them, one item per month. 7 is the result. Hatmaker’s a friendly and funny narrator: she manages to make you like her and make you squirm at the same time.

Best Young Adult: The Fault in Our Stars, John Green. Quirky, charming, heartbreaking. The title riffs Shakespeare–appropriate for this story of teenage star-crossed lovers (and cancer patients). 16-year-old narrator Hazel is smart, funny, and sincere, and she tells a great story.

Best Inspiration for New Year’s Resolutions: Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life, Gretchen Rubin. In this follow-up to The Happiness Project, Rubin spends 9 months (beginning in September, the “new January,”) deliberately fostering a warmer, happier home life. (I borrowed my New Year’s goal to celebrate special breakfasts from this book.)

Best Paradigm Changer: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending by Laura Vanderkam. Surprisingly, people are shockingly bad at predicting what will make them happy, and the way they spend their money is no exception. It turns out, money can buy a little bit of happiness, if spent wisely. Vanderkam explores how happy people strategically spend (and give) to build the kind of life they want–for themselves, and for others.

What were your favorite new books in 2012?

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve read 4 of your 6, and agree that they are fantastic choices – 2 of them are also on my list, and a third probably would have been if I had read it in 2012. :)

    I keep reading glowing recommendations for The Fault in Our Stars, but yours is the first one that mentions the topic in a little more detail. Now I’m hesitant to read it because I’m not sure that the timing is right for me to appreciate it. Your opinion? Too close too soon, so maybe I should give it a pass for some time?

  2. says

    Thanks very much for these ideas: because of your recommendation I’ve put a library hold on Quiet so I’m looking forward to that one.

    My favourite new book of 2012 was Laura Moriarty’s novel The Chaperone. I have read all of Moriarty’s previous novels, and I love the complexity and realness of her characters. The Chaperone is set in the 20’s and is about Cora, a well-to-do housewife who chaperones her teenage neighbour to New York so the girl can attend a dance school; meanwhile Cora plans to seek clues to her own past as a child in a New York orphanage. Moriarty is excellent at exploring what can happen when someone is forced to reframe her world in the face of new knowledge and reality.

  3. says

    I loved Quiet! One of my favorite books of the year. I loved reading Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (in the YA category). As far as memoirs, I really enjoyed The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

    I know I need to go ahead and read The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve been putting it off because my mom has been in the depths of Stage 4 Breast Cancer this past year. It’s definitely on my list though. I love John Green – he totally understands teenage nerds and how they talk. He writes great characters.

  4. says

    Just put Quiet and Happier at Home on my list. Love getting recommendations from you! I enjoyed 7 last year as well as Unbroken and What Alice Forgot (which I think you weren’t too into.) Anyway, just finished my first book of 2013 today–The Paris Wife. Enjoyed it!

    • Anne says

      I liked What Alice Forgot. It was one of those books that I didn’t think was amazing literature but nevertheless told a great story. There’s a difference–and I think there’s a place for both (thank goodness!)

      I loved Unbroken! And Seabiscuit too. The topic didn’t exactly sound riveting to me, but it was so very good.

    • Anne says

      Joy, I have such a hard time with modern fiction! I was proud of myself for including one fiction book in my round-up here :) What Alice Forgot and Rules of Civility were other favorite fiction reads.

        • Anne says

          Joy, the books have totally different tones. Rules of Civility felt Gatsy-esque to me. This was my 140 character review from July:

          “Gorgeous, glamorous depiction of New York c 1938 and characters whose lives turn on 1 impulsive decision. I didn’t see that ending coming.”

  5. says

    I really enjoyed Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics” – a much faster read than I expected. The Duggar’s “The Love That Multiplies” felt like a guilty-pleasure read, but it really was food for this mama’s soul. “French Kids Eat Everything” was a fun look at food cross-culturally (with lots of food for thought…). And “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt was a very intriguing take on what separates the Right from the Left, at least in the U.S. I’m looking forward to reading 7 this year – I’ve been in line for it in the hold request list for awhile; shouldn’t be too much longer before I get my hands on it! (& I’m glad to see that I’m not the only voracious reader who has a problem with modern fiction! I try; I’m just so picky!)

    • Anne says

      Thanks for the book list!

      I’ll try to share some good modern fiction here on the blog in 2013. I’m confident it’s out there!

  6. Jo says

    The Fault In Our Stars!!
    YES!
    All the YES!

    Also, Fun Fact!, John Green is the brother of Hank Green who created the Lizzie Bennett Diaries.
    You can watch them talk to each other via video blog at youtube.com/vlogbrothers :D

    And I LOVE all of the John Green’s other books too, particularly Paper Towns!

    • Anne says

      I just found that out about Hank Green and John Green! I’ve never watched any of the vlog brothers but I need to sometime!

      I’ve asked the library for Looking for Alaska, but I haven’t even heard of Paper Towns. Should I read that first?

      • Jo says

        Looking for Alaska is definitely John’s second most famous book (First book published, and received the Printz award), but it is also famous for being banned in schools! Main reason is a short sex scene that some people don’t think should be in there. But the remainder of the book is good. I do need to re-read it again (a friend has my copy), but I do really like Paper Towns. He also has three other books – An Abundance of Katherines – about a child prodigy – Let it Snow – co-authored with 2 other authors, a Christmas story – and Will Grayson, Will Grayson – co-authored with David Levithan, about two teens called Will Grayson and how they meet and stuff.
        Take your pick really :) I like them all!

  7. says

    I read Quiet last month essentially because you told me to Anne. Well, you didn’t say “Here Tim, read this” but you might as well have. The way you described it last year was compelling. I’d read other bloggers discuss it, but you were the one who made me think it might be worth my time. Was it ever! I agree with everything you said about it here, and it is one of my favorites from last year.

    The two books that are at the top of my 2012 list, though, are Darrell Johnson’s Discipleship on the Edge: an Expository Journey through the Book of Revelation and Karen Swallow Prior’s Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me.

    Johnson is a gifted communicator (I’ve heard him speak at conferences and listened to classroom audios too) and it comes across in his writing. He is very scholarly, as might be expected from someone who was on faculty at Regent in Vancouver, but also quite pastoral (which makes sense since he’s pastored a few churches). He brings sound scripture hermeneutics to bear, with insights from the history, politics, culture, religions, geography and geology of the times and places John wrote about in revelation. This work makes sense of a part of the Bible most people (including me) have been confounded by.

    Prior’s literary memoir is one of the most compelling reads I’ve come across. She speaks of the impact that several great works (some familiar, some not so much) have had on her life. Yet it’s not only a literary memoir, but also a spiritual journey. This literature has truly affected her spiritual formation, as she discovered the Holy Spirit using it all to guide her in her relationship with God. It’s a testament to her superb writing that even the works I was unfamiliar with came alive as she spoke of their affect on her life. It’s like they were affecting mine as well.

    • Anne says

      Booked is on my list (thanks to you and a few others’ recommendations). I’m unfamiliar with Johnson. Thanks for letting me know!

  8. says

    I loved Simon Sinek’s START WITH WHY. Probably my favorite book from 2012 about how most businesses get it wrong and start with what they are going to do instead of why they are doing it. Good stuff!

  9. says

    I just bought Quiet on your suggestion. I teared up reading the synopsis on the inside cover. I teared up again in line reading the quote before the introduction. I don’t know how I’m going to keep it together while I’m reading it on the subway, but I think it’s good I’m reading it :)

    • Anne says

      Delphine, I’m so glad it’s striking a chord with you. Enjoy, and if you do end up on crying on the subway…well, worse things have happened :)

  10. Dawn says

    Historical Fiction: “I, Elizabeth” A complete picture of Queen Elizabeth, entertaining, suspenseful. “American Wife” based on a recent US president’s rise to power, told by his reluctant wife. Opens the mind to what may be behind all the cameras.

    Juvenile Fiction (I read these with my kids): The Farthest Away Mountain: spectacular, the whole family loved it, possibly my most recommended read for anyone, especially for those whose kids can’t seem to find a book they like.

    Savvy: lots of fun, neat premise, for older-elementary or middle-school readers, liked it enough to pick up the sequel, Scumble.

    The Lemonade War: okay, we’re still reading this one, but the kids (2nd & 5th grade) are LOVING this story, which is an undercover look at the principles of capitalism, but my kids don’t know or care about that part. They are rooting for their favorite to win the “war.” Can’t wait to see how it ends.

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