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Book Group > January 2012 - Best of 2012

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message 1: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Hi everyone! Welcome to our January book discussion!

Each month we'll announce the theme and you choose the book you want to read.

Now that 2012 is drawing to a close, awards are being given and "Best of" lists are popping up all over. The New York Times and Washington Post critics have their lists. Goodreads members have voted on the Choice Awards. Amazon has their top sellers for the year. This month we'll be reading the best books of 2012 and discussing what makes a book "the best".

Check out our Best of 2012 shelf for ideas, or choose one of these:

Critics Picks
- NW by Zadie Smith
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
- This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
- Home by Toni Morrison

Award Winners
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich (National Book Award for Fiction)
- The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction)
- Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Man Booker Prize)
- The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Guardian New Book Award)

Best Sellers
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Please post a comment letting us all know what you plan to read and suggesting any good books you read in 2012!

message 2: by Michele (new)

Michele Casto | 2 comments I'm thinking of reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers. I've been on a fiction bender for too long. Has anyone here read it?

message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments I haven't read Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, but I've heard only good things about it.

Right now I'm finishing up Dear Life: Stories, which has been on a lot of year end lists. I've been savoring this short story collection, mostly about women in rural Canada whose lives I'm finding oddly fascinating. Next up I think I'll try Sweet Tooth, which has also made some lists and which I recently received as a gift.

message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
I'm going to read A Hologram for the King for a very superficial reason-- I love the cover & binding! Every time it crosses my path I want to touch it!

message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
Award-winning books don't seem to be too popular here, especially after YA :P

Oh well, I don't blame you. I finished A Hologram for the King and wish I could have my time back, please. It was just incredibly bland and predictable and honestly, it wasn't bad enough to hate or good enough to like. It just left me feeling nothing. It's one of those books that I probably won't even remember having read two years from now. Eggers is a good writer, and he can do lots of showy prose tricks, which he proved in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but here he told his story in a straightforward and (therefore) boring way.

Who else has read this? Anyone care to explain to me how this book got so many accolades? Is it because all the reviewers were 50-something white males going through a similar midlife crisis as the protagonist? I understand that the protagonist was a metaphor for the USA, but surely a lot of heavy handed symbolism isn't enough enough to make so many best-of lists.

And that said, anyone read a best-of book that they really, really liked? I couldn't put Gone Girl down. I don't consider it one of the best books of the year, but definitely the most addictive.

message 6: by Tim (new)

Tim (timothymey) | 20 comments I have not read Eggers' latest, many of the reviews I read echoed your sentiment of privileged middle-aged white men and the "woe is me" of a midlife crisis. I feel like some reviewers bought into the metaphor and therefore loved it, and those that didn't really disliked the book. That being said, I'll probably go back and read it at some point, as I loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and You Shall Know Our Velocity!, but I'm not as jazzed about it as I once was. One thing you pointed out that we can all agree on: it will look really nice on our bookshelves.
I've been reading Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, for no other reason than (I'm a bit ashamed to admit) I've never gotten around to reading anything else of his, despite many acquaintances recommending him to me—I'll let you know how this one goes.

message 7: by Tim (new)

Tim (timothymey) | 20 comments I finally finished slogging my way through Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, and I think I'll have to go back and read one of his earlier novels in order to appreciate him. This one just did not work for me, and as with the Eggers book, I don't understand all the glowing reviews.

The plot was overstuffed to the point that I really did not care what happened in the end. I didn't see that point in all of his Tarantino references, as the novel bears little resemblance to anything Tarantino has written, other than maybe the references to the 1970s. Also, all of the record references that Chabon drops only serve to distract from the story, not enhance it—and I'm not against this type of reference in a book—I love Hornby's High Fidelity—but in the case of that novel, the record references serve to enhance the plot and set the mood, while here they just feel tacked-on.

I understand that Chabon was trying to provide some commentary on the importance of communities and on the nature of fatherhood, but it all just got lost in the convoluted plot lines and endless 1970s references. Should I go back and read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay? Everyone seems to think that one was amazing.

message 8: by Lady (new)

Lady | 11 comments @Michele: all hail the "fiction benders!" No shame in that, imho. That being said, I do plan to read "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" and "Bad Cells" (whenever it makes its debut at the library...soon I hope) in addition to some coveted fiction titles.

message 9: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 6 comments I'm an avid Chabon fan. That said, I completely agree with your comments on Telegraph Avenue. It felt like a chore to read and when I was done, all I could do was ask 'What the heck was the point?' It really left me bored and sad because I do love his writing so much. I suggest that you do check out Kavalier and Clay as it's my favorite, or his earlier work The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I think you will find them much more enjoyable.

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