Here’s what I have to say about books in 2012: Thank god fiction has gotten better. I dunno what it was about 2011, but it was a bummer year for fiction. Nothing felt all ohh-la-la and you have to read this. It all felt, “eh, it was okay.” But 2012? 2012 was all WOW ZOOM ZIP! Here’s a few of my favorite things from the year.
1. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
When anyone asks, I tell them this was my favorite novel of 2012. Sisterhood, Art, AIDS, the 80s, there’s a little something for everyone to love in this beautiful, beautiful book that was so moving I had to put it aside for a minute and sob. This is the kind of book I look at lovingly, brush my fingers against its spine, and sigh.
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A book about two teens with cancer in love could have gone so horribly awry — blatant emotional manipulation, treacly today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present crap, cruddy Carpe Diem bullshit. Somehow Green manages to avoid this pitfalls and gives us a tender, stirring book that is funny and sarcastic and ultimately quite beautiful. Also, Augustus Waters is the dreamiest teen boy to come along since Ponyboy Curtis.
3. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Back in June this story about a twelve-year-old girl and the ‘slowing’ was my favorite novel. Not too shabby a choice for the first half of the year. This one’s a coming of age story with a dystopian bent that is smart and imaginative.
4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
This one was probably the funniest book I read all year. Bernadette Fox a hermitty, used-to-be architecture wunderkind is hilarious. She’s snooty and bitchy, but loves the crap out of her family. When she disappears, her’s fifteen-year-old daughter Bee has to sort out what happened using emails and letters and articles. So so so good.
5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The only thing that can be said about this one is, “believe the hype.” So worth it.
6. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
I haven’t been this excited by a comicbooks series since I first fell in love with Fables. Also, the female protagonist Alana has best comic hair since Ramona Flowers.
7. Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
I love me some Shalom Auslander. He’s not for the faint of heart or the easy of offense, which is probably why I enjoy his writing so much. Dude makes no bones about putting it all out there, and he does it again in this novel about a wishy-washy Jewish man who makes a horrifying discovery in his attic, a discovery that blows his entire life apart. This one is horrifying and hilarious all at the same time.
8. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
This is a good’un that charts the rise, the glory days, and then the fall of a hippie commune.
9. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Strayed loses her mother, ditches her husband, and finds herself while hiking solo on the Pacific-Coast Trail. This is one of those books I can see being clutched to the chests of young twenty-something women for a long time to come. (and as a nearly fortysomething when I read it, I loved it because it reminded me of being a messed-up, confused twentysomething and I really wished it had been around back then).
10. This How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Diaz got swagger. He’s also got some misogyny and some cluelessness about women, but boy can he write.