Friday, January 4, 2013

Books of 2012 + Recommendations

I got to read a lot this year. I know I won't always have so much free time to read, but I'm glad I did this year. I read a lot of good non-fiction and a lot of good young adult literature -- some rereads from when I was a kid (L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder) and some newer young adult literature (The City of Ember and The One and Only Ivan).

Most of what I read this year was what I consider "fun" literature -- books that don't cause too much introspection but are more read for enjoyment and a little escapism into the world of the book. I usually like to balance "thinking" books with "fun" books, but this year I exempted myself from that rule and it was a nice break.

Out of the 72 books I read this year, a few stood out as definite favorites that I'd recommend to almost anyone. Here are my recommendations, followed by the complete list of books I read in 2012. It was a good year for literature of all kinds!

Bringing Up Bébé

Non-fiction about an American journalist who moves to Paris and realizes that the French people have some great methods of raising kids. I've talked about this book a LOT this year. It's changed my thinking about certain parenting issues and reinforced other parenting beliefs I already had. I was especially interested in how the French teach their children (even toddlers!) to truly enjoy food, including things like blue cheese and beets, and we've incorporated that approach in how we handle food with Maggie.

Sharp Teeth

A book about werewolves in modern-day LA -- but wait. It's not what you think. This is not Twilight-level writing, but is actually written in free-verse, as an epic poem. It is incredible. I'm not usually into werewolves or vampires or witches or any of that when it comes to literature, but I highly recommend this as a good read. I've heard rumors of it being produced as a movie, which I think could be pretty great.

The Last American Man

A non-fiction book about a man named Eustace Conway who has devoted his life to the frontier and pioneer skills that America was founded with. This is a fellow who has eaten roadkill (determined that nothing go to waste), ridden across America on horseback, and built a self-sustaining farm, all with the intent to bring back the essential survival skills that served our forefathers so well and fight against America's modern sedentary lifestyle. A well-written book with a fascinating subject.

The Likeness

I read Tana French's first book, In The Woods, last year and loved it. This is the second in her Dublin Murder Squad series and I think the best (I also read #3 this year, but it was not as impressive).  She is possibly the best mystery writer I have read, ever. The tone is dark, the plot is intricate and psychologically enthralling, and the ending is not neat -- not everything is explained but enough is so that you finish the book satisfied yet still dwelling on what happened. I could not put this book down and when I finally finished I thought about it for days afterwards.

Eating Animals

This was the first non-fiction I'd read from Jonathan Safran Foer and I was blown away. A thoughtful approach to the hows and whys of eating meat. Rather than taking a militant vegetarian stance, Foer approaches the issue compassionately, dealing with the way that eating meat is tied up in American culture and in everyday relationships. He is convincing, yet never preachy or condemning of those who choose to eat meat. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to take a more thoughtful approach to what they eat.

 Let's Pretend This Never Happened

      Good Lord, Jenny Lawson is one hilariously weird lady. I already loved reading her blog, The Bloggess, and her book absolutely measured up to all my hopes. I listened to this on audio book, which I highly recommend. I laughed until I cried but I also just straight up cried. Jenny has the amazing ability to both write hilariously (and profanely) but also with great vulnerability. Two thumbs up.

Books of 2012

1.   The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
2.   The 50 Funniest American Writers: According to Andy Borowitz – Andy Borowitz
3.   Shit My Dad Says – Justin Halpern
4.   Cat Among the Pigeons – Agatha Christie
5.   Sparkling Cyanide – Agatha Christie
6.   How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
7.   Boy: Tales of Childhood – Roald Dahl
8.   The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman
9.   So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling – Lisa Whelchel
10.        Oddfellow’s Orphanage – Emily Winfield Martin
11.        Anne’s House of Dreams – L.M. Montgomery
12.        Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
13.        Animal Farm – George Orwell
14.        The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate
15.        French Kids Eat Everything – Karen Le Billon
16.        Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America – Barbara Ehrenreich **
17.        The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann David Wyss
18.        The City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau
19.        Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta – Ina May Gaskin
20.        Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
21.        The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence – Gavin de Becker
22.        Wildwood – Colin Meloy
23.        What’s So Great About America – Dinesh D’Souza
24.        Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
25.        The Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffman
26.        The Sociopath Next Door – Martha Stout
27.        The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
28.        A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle
29.        I Am an Executioner: Love Stories – Rajesh Parameswaran
30.        The Last American Man – Elizabeth Gilbert  **
31.        The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie
32.        Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie
33.        Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting – Pamela Druckerman  **
34.        Emily’s Quest – L.M. Montgomery
35.        Emily of New Moon – L.M. Montgomery
36.        Be Fruitful and Multiply – Nancy Campbell
37.        Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex – Mary Roach **
38.        The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
39.        The Magic Barrel – Bernard Malamud
40.        Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt  **
41.        Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
42.        High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
43.        The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie – Wendy McClure
44.        Faithful Place – Tana French
45.        Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
46.        State of Wonder – Ann Patchett
47.        The Likeness – Tana French  **
48.        The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
49.        Bossypants – Tina Fey
50.        The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender
51.        Wake Up, Sir! – Jonathan Ames
52.        Travels with Charlie – John Steinbeck
53.        The Dirty Life – Kristin Kimball
54.        The Princess Bride – William Goldman
55.        This Beautiful Life – Helen Schulman
56.        On the Banks of Plum Creek – Laura Ingalls Wilder
57.        Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks
58.        North! Or be Eaten – Andrew Peterson
59.        Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
60.        Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson
61.        The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
62.        Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer  **
63.        The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbary
64.        The Memoirs of Cleopatra – Margaret George
65.        Sharp Teeth – Tony Barlow  **
66.        The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
67.        The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
68.        Enders Game – Orson Scott Card
69.        Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
70.        The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler
71.    A Year of Biblical Womanhood - Rachel Held Evans
72.    Taft - Ann Patchett
73.    Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
74.    Let's Pretend This Never Happened - Jenny Lawson

** = books I really liked


  1. Great suggestions! I loved Bringing Up Bebe...will definitely add some of these to my amazon wish list!

    1. I realized how much I loved Bringing Up Bebe when I realized I was talking about something or other from the book pretty much EVERY time I talked to a fellow parent, haha! :)