NPR’s Best Books of 2012

I usually tune out end-of-the-year “Best” lists the way I ignore after Christmas sales, because at a certain point, enough is simply enough.  National Public Radio, however, compiled a quirky and compelling list of 20 different lists by critics, writers, and NPR staff members.  It’s worth a look.  Most titles were not ones I’d heard of and were so diverse there should be a wide appeal.  Here are the categories:

  1. Picks by indie booksellers.
  2. Picks by a librarian.
  3. Five YA novel choices.
  4. Staff choices of best music books.
  5. Best book club reads.
  6. 10 books to help you recover from a tense 2012.
  7. The best heroines of 2012.
  8. Best romance in various sub-genres.
  9. Middle-grade recommendations.
  10. True originals:  a list of compelling biographies.
  11. Graphic novels.
  12. Best science fiction.
  13. Contrarian cookbooks.
  14. 2012’s best mysteries (mean girls rule).
  15. Best historical fiction
  16. “2012’s Books to hang onto,”
  17. Five poetry choices.
  18. Great short story collections.
  19. Gift and illustrated books.
  20. Best books of the winter season.

I haven’t been reading or wanting to read many novels in recent months, but a description on list #2 piqued my interest.    Among Others by Jo Walton is a Hugo and Nebulla award winning novel about a girl in south Wales whose survival becomes tied up in a library reading group that exposes her to classic science-fiction writers like Heinlein, Le Guin, and others.

On the same list I spotted the sort of history I have enjoyed lately, America Aflame:  How the Civil War Created a Nation by David Goldfield.  Goldfield, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, considers all aspects of American life between 1834 and 1876.  Reviewer, Nancy Pearl said, “like all the best histories, it made me carefully consider my own assumptions and beliefs about our country’s past.”

Have a look.  I’m sure you’ll find something worth reading that you missed in 2012.

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