The Best Books I Read in 2012

I realize now that I have a book problem. Well, maybe it’s not a problem so much as an issue of sorts. But before we get into that, let me tell you about the best books I read this year. I recently selected the The Twelve as my best book of 2012, but for that list I was bound by publication date. Not so now.

In no particular order, here are the five best books I read this year.

The Reapers are the Angels, Alden Bell

The-Reapers-Are-the-AngelsThis zombie-apocalypse story by Alden Bell is beautiful and horrifying at the same time. It is the book I read the fastest this year, and the one I recommended most to friends. The main character is one of those “strong female types” you hear so much about these days, a girl called Temple who makes her way through the southern United States as the story progresses. Great read, especially if you like well-written zombie books.

The Death of Sweet Mister, Daniel Woodrell

DeathofSweetDaniel Woodrell is a writer I get tired of recommending to people because, if there was any justice in this world, he would be outselling Shades of Gray. You will probably have heard of Winter’s Bone though, as you should. The Death of Sweet Mister is, like Winter’s Bone, about unfortunate people. Shug is a boy who lives with a too-sexy-for-her-own-good mother and a violent man called Red that may or may not be his father. While Red is away avoiding the law, Glenda takes up with another man, and this has consequences for everyone. If you like good books, the sort of good that makes you mad at the world for handing you the book sooner, this is for you.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

grapes-of-wrathThe single best thing I read this year, no contest. There is a reason Steinbeck won a Nobel prize, and it is on display in this epic. I almost can not imagine any American not reading this, since it says so much about the nation’s history. The story of the Joad’s trek to California during the depression puts a human element on the places and the dates learned during history class. It may seem a little like socialist propaganda at times, but I’m not entirely sure that the U.S. couldn’t use a little of that now (but that’s a totally different discussion). Read it, even if only for the chapter on how why their land gets taken away.

Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday

trustmeimlyingThe only non-fiction book to make the list (and, bonus, a book actually published in 2012), Trust Me, I’m Lying is about how news becomes news, why we should know this and what to do about it. Or, if you are so inclined, how to manipulate the media to cover the stories you want. Remember when almost all the media channels said the presidential race was too close to call, and that it could go either way? Yeah, they knew Obama was probably going to win but didn’t cover that because that doesn’t keep viewers glued to screens. This book will change the way you view the media. Trust me, I’m telling the truth now.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

20121117-100431.jpgDickens is my favorite writer. I’m working my way through his books one by one (they tend to be large in both pages and scope) and this was my Dickens read of the year, though I will be reading A Christmas Carol when we get closer to Christmas. A Tale of Two Cities takes place during the French revolution and tells the story of lovers in London who are drawn back to Paris as the Revolution brings forth the guillotine and heads roll, literally. It was a source of inspiration for this year’s summer blockbuster with the man in the bat-suit, according to Nolan himself. It is good, though not as good as Bleak House or Great Expectations.

And then, my book problem. You see, I tend to buy books that have passed a test-of-time, so to speak. If a book gets a lot of hype upon publication and then keeps popping up (Gone Girl is a perfect example of this) I’m going to read it. However, I tend to forego new books for these which means that I’m usually reading the classics, or books around the three-year-old mark.

Buy the books on Amazon by clicking on their images below:

The Reapers are the AngelsThe Death of Sweet MisterThe Grapes of WrathTrust Me, I'm LyingA Tale of Two Cities

What’s the best thing you read this year?


15 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read in 2012”

  1. Good picks! As a journalist myself, I wanted to read Trust Me, I’m Lying, but didn’t get to it because my library didn’t get it in yet. But, it’s on my list of paperbacks to pick up in 2013.

    Even though I’ve read and reviewed a lot of 2012 books on my blog, I tend to have a similar style in my book purchasing, waiting to buy things I’m relatively confident about. But I’ve gotten a good stream of review copies, so that keeps me up to date on many new reads too.


  2. I answered Zelazny’s Lord of Light on Twitter, but honestly don’t believe I’ve read a ‘best’ thing. I’ve been lucky enough to find several books with outrageous strengths that aren’t very comparable in my various experiences. Actually running a #bestreads2012 hashtag for people to share their lists. This would fit right in!


  3. The Grapes of Wrath was also one of my favorite reads this past year. I listened to the audioversion which was done quite well. I had seen the movie sometime in the past 2 years, but the book was much better. Steinbeck will definitely be on my reading list for 2013.


  4. I’m definitely liking The Reapers are the Angels, since I’m into the zombie flow now! Also I’m curious to read Trust Me, I’m Lying. Actually I’m getting excited already, as a student studying journalism!


  5. Based on your recommendation, I’m going to give Daniel Woodrell a read. Although I checked my library availability and it looks like I’ll have to read Winter’s Bone first.


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