I hate "Best Books" lists. After all, one woman's "trash" is another woman's "best," and those lists always make me want to ask "best for what?"
Best for keep you up at night, or best for keeping the porch door wedged open?
Best for making you feel that the world is an okay place after all, or best for making you feel that life is completely stupid and pointless? (It seems like many books I find on "Best Books" lists fit the latter definition.)
Anyway, my list is simply this: The seven books published this year that I most enjoyed reading. Not sure why seven, but there it is. Lucky number seven.
I won't be adding mini-reviews here, as most of these books have been reviewed here in the past 12 months and I don't want to repeat myself (the others have been reviewed extensively elsewhere and I don't want to repeat them, either).
Suffice to say, they're all well written and have "something to say" rather than simply being "entertaining reads" (though most of them are that, too).
Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Black and White by Wes Albers
Little Girl Gone by Drusilla Campbell
Redshirts by John Scalzi
So L.A. by Bridget Hoida
Tincture of Time by John Rosenberg
When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
While I wasn't trying to focus on books written by lesser-known authors, or those from smaller publishing houses, it worked out that many of the seven are one or the other. I wasn't trying to focus on fiction, either, but six out of the seven are novels (though Ms Strayed herself likely refers to her memoir as novelistic).
I'm not going to write a Worst Books list for 2012, but I will say that I finally broke down and read "Fifty Shades of Grey" and I have no desire to read the two others. I wasn't expecting much and I got just that. The fact that these books are out there is hardly surprising--the fact that they have sold so many millions of copies is shocking and depressing.
My biggest disappointment this year: Junot Diaz's This is How You Lose Her. This might have been a case of too-great expectations; Diaz wrote one of my favorite books of the previous decade, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and the new book seems a warmed-over collection of notes for that book, passed off as something new.
Just FYI, the book I just started reading, Pancho Land by Raul Ramos y Sanchez, is the third of a trilogy I've enjoyed tremendously, and will probably be my eighth favorite book of 2012.