In life there are list-makers and those who wing it.
But a “best of” list to wrap up the year is hard to resist and here is ours. We couldn’t resist the temptation to look back on the year and choose among all the great books of 2012 to come up with a few must-read favourites.
This year will be known for the phenomenon that was Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Everyone was reading it, but it is mommies with book clubs, who are credited with the record breaking sales of the trilogy that was Grey.
But was it the “best”? It certainly was for some. However, it did have some healthy competition this year. Here are some of our picks for Best Fiction of 2012:
Best alternative shade of Grey: Bared to You by Sylvia Day stars the beautiful and brilliant in scorching love scenes, a duo caught in a tale rife with angst, tormented pasts, and enough plot twists to keep the flames of passion at their hottest.
Best mystery-thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn –A compelling thriller about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. With a plot filled with twists and turns it will keep you one your toes until the very end.
Best smart literary fiction: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel –The Man Booker Prize-winning sequel to the Man Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall. There is passion and destruction though, as Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.
Best popular fiction: The Twelve by Justin Cronin – Paranormal fiction gained ever more mainstream popularity this year – thanks to franchises like Twilight, The Hunger Games, maybe even good old Harry Potter. We loved this literary thriller by the author of bestselling The Passage -- The Twelve is a story revealed in multiple time frames, with a government experiment gone wrong; a dozen vampires; and triumph of the very human spirit.
Best YA (for kids of all ages): The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Can a book about a kid with cancer be funny? Yes, it can also be insightful, bold, irreverent and raw as it explores the thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love. It’s simply brilliant.
Please visit the Fiction & Literature section of our website for more of our picks for the Best Fiction of 2012.
Meanwhile, there was a raft of amazing non-fiction this year to spark thought, imagination and wonder.
Best “I never thought of it that way” book: Quiet by Susan Cain – In this celebrity-driven social-media-crazed world it is hard to remember, never mind value, those who are quietly getting along. In this passionately argued and impressively researched book Cain shows how dramatically we undervalue these quiet people, and how much we lose in doing so.
Best “ought to read” as must-read book: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo -- After three years of uncompromising reporting, Boo tells the story of one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds. She traces the dreams and hopes of those living in a slum in the shadow of new luxury in India, and thus with heartbreaking clarity and detail tells the global truth of the competitive age we live in.
Best life-changer: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Habits good and bad are a simple neurological loop of cue, routine and reward, and understanding this is the key to success (eg. Having more good habits than bad ones). This book argues that tweaking even one habit, as long as it's the right one, can have staggering effects.
Best paradigm-shifter: Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The author of The Black Swan shows that, contrary to how it might seem, life benefits from stress, disorder, volatility and turmoil.
Best “so that’s how it works”: The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – We were so tempted to say “best bet”. Silver explains, in simple terms, how probability and prediction actually work. Guess no more!
Check our site for the best of the Best of 2012