Use this list to find out the best books of 2012, which was one of the best book release years in recent history.
'The Orphan Master's Son' by Adam Johnson
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson is a novel that takes place in North Korea and follows one man's life from an orphan through many twists and turns. Although The Orphan Master's Son is literary fiction, the rich prose and deep themes are coupled with interesting characters and a plot that keeps pages turning.
- Complete review of The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
- The Orphan Master's Son Book Club Discussion Questions
Cover Photo Courtesy Random House
'In the Shadow of the Banyan' by Vaddey Ratner
In the Shadow of the Banyan is a story of a young girl in Cambodia during the devastating period from 1975 to 1979. Largely based on Ratner's own story, this novel is beautiful and devastating at the same time.
- Read a complete review of In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
- In the Shadow of the Banyan Book Club Discussion Questions
'Behind the Beatiful Forevers' by Katherine Boo
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo is narrative nonfiction that takes place in a Mumbai slum. Boo avoids cliches and expected narratives. She tells a gripping story that tugs at the heart and mind.
'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is a young adult novel that has big crossover appeal. It is told from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl with terminal cancer. The characters think and feel big, and will make readers want to stick with them to the end.
'Gold' by Chris Cleave
Gold is a book about the 2012 Olympics, released in the same month as the Olympics. When I heard that, I expected it to be a flimsy story and a marketing ploy. Clearly I forgot that Chris Cleave is a brilliant writer. Gold is a story that will shine even when the Olympics is just a memory.
'The Yellow Birds' by Kevin Powers
Kevin Powers was a soldier in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. His debut novel, The Yellow Birds, is a lyrical and heartbreaking account of one soldier's experience in that war. This is a book that is beautiful and important, but also difficult.
'Telegraph Avenue' by Michael Chabon
Telegraph Avenue is a gritty, gutsy novel -- not just in its content, but also in the ways Michael Chabon experiments with writing. This story of a small record store reverberates bigger than expected.
'The Age of Miracles' by Karen Thompson Walker
The Age of Miracles is Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel. It is told from the perspective of an eleven year old in a future where the earth's rotation has begun slowing. Walker writes a quiet suspense that will draw readers into the fantastical premise and remind them what it feels like to grow up.
- Read a complete review of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
- The Age of Miracles Book Club Discussion Questions
'Where'd You Go, Bernadette?' by Maria Semple
So often, the books that make the "Best of" lists are heavy. While it is important to explore deep topics, it is also important to have some deep, intelligent laughs. Maria Semple delivers that and a warm heart in Where'd You Go, Bernadette?.
- Read a complete review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Book Club Discussion Questions