Top Ten Books of 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, drums please…
Here’s a list of the top ten books I read in 2012, in no particular order:

1. For its wisdom, mastery, tone, and adventure: The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

2. For being the only book in my entire life that made me cry continuously for the last sixty pages: The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller 

3. For its insight, concept, and pacing: The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane

4. For its voice and inventive language: Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon

5. For its sentences: By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham 

6. For being a model of patience, tidy forays, and subtlety: Children & Fire by Ursula Hegi  

7. For its significance and variety: Beruit 39: New Writing from the Arab World edited by Samuel Shimon

8. For its way of seeing the world: Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch

9. For its surprise ending: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

10. For weaving the worlds of science, art, and love: Quantum Lyrics by A. Van Jordan 

If you love and/or study creative nonfiction and have not read The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, above everything else on this list: go buy it now (and everything else by Alexandra Fuller, for that matter). She’s a master at what she does and, hands down, her work will spark fantastic classroom conversations or book club sessions.

If you love and/or study fiction and have not read anything by Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall is a fine starting place but you might try Specimen Days instead. The former has characters that I found difficult to relate to, but the latter remains one of the most captivating novels I have ever read. In either case, watch the sentences and watch the way Cunningham builds character through rhythmic pressure and the slow accumulation of tiny disturbances.

If you love nature, nature writing, or place-based essays, The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane is simply a must read. One of the most beautiful books I have read in years. A delightful exploration. 

For the full list of 2012 books, or the last two years of my top ten, click here.

Happy reading!

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