Best Books of 2012

The Sunday Salon: The Best

MTB070685027  01I love a good list. To-do lists, idea lists, grocery lists, errand lists, hopes and dreams lists. Love 'em all.

But I'm especially fond of a good "Best Of.." list. And year's end is rife with them. So who can resist adding their own to the bunch?

Here then is my list of the Best Books for 2012. Purely personal opinion, it was developed according to the little asterisks placed by the titles in my reading diary. It is ordered chronologically, beginning with January 2012, and ending with the book I finished last night just as the airplane returning me from Dallas landed on the runway.

11/22/63 - Stephen King

Blue Nights-Joan Didion

A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny

The Orchid House - Lucinda Riley

An Available Man - Hilma Wolitzer

An Uncommon Education - Elizabeth Percer

The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian

Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake - Anna Quindlen

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. - Nicole Bernier

The Chaperone - Laura Moriarty

The Book Lover - Maryann McFadden

The Shoemaker's Wife - Adriana Trigiani

The Baker's Daughter - Sarah McCoy

Hemingway's Girl - Ericka Robuck

Quiet -Susan Cain

Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading - Maureen Corrigan

Dear Life - Alice Munro

Winter Solstice - Rosamund Pilcher

This was a good year for the historical novel, and you'll notice a number of them have made the list. That genre is a favorite for me, because it combines two of my long standing interests (history and literature) into one package. I'm looking forward to more of these in 2013, and have several already on the horizon, one of which I started this morning and already love - Jasmine Nights (Julia Gregson).

I also re-read some favorites this year, notably Amateur Marriage, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and Digging to America (Anne Tyler); Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy); Falling Through Space (Ellen Gilchrist); Crossing to Safety (Wallace Stegner); and Into the Tangle of Friendship (Beth Kephart).

This autumn I embarked upon two new (to me) mystery series, those by Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. I've really enjoyed meeting their intrepid female detectives, and look forward to catching up on more of their adventures during 2013.

I don't typically participate in the reading challenges that have been popular among the book-blogging community. But I think I will join in the Barbara Pym centenary read-along. We begin with Some Tame Gazelle. A friend introduced me to Pym's work about a dozen years ago, and I promptly read a number of her novels lovely, gently satrical and funny novels about life and friendship in small English villages. This seems like a good time to get re-acquainted.

Other reading plans include some research for a creative non-fiction writing project, and of course, whatever else might take my fancy.

Here's to a wonderful year of reading ahead!

I am always reading, or thinking about reading. Joyce Carol Oates


Photo: Girl in a Red Dress by a Swimming Pool, Sir John Lavery (1856-1941)