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The early edition of the Sunday Washington Post (received this morning) starts our annual thread on year-end critics' picks for the year's best books.

50 Notable Works of Fiction

50 Notable Works of Nonfiction (ugh -- registration required for this second link)

Among the works we've discussed at A&F:

IN SUNLIGHT AND IN SHADOW

By Mark Helprin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

A gorgeous young couple meet on the Staten Island Ferry. World War II is behind them, love right in front of them, business and family challenges ahead. This juicy, entertaining tome offers larger-than-life personalities. — Rodney Welch

STAY AWAKE: Stories

By Dan Chaon (Ballantine)

Ghosts are everywhere in this powerful and disturbing new collection: a young man haunted by his parents’ suicide, a widower receiving “messages.” The shocks here are many, as frightening as seeing a ghostly face in your bedroom at night. — Jeff Turrentine

TELEGRAPH AVENUE

By Michael Chabon (Harper)

In prose full of manic energy, “Telegraph Avenue” is a tribute to vintage vinyl. The story revolves around efforts to save the Brokeland Records store in a gritty part of Oakland. Think Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” digitally remastered in rococo funk. — R.C.

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER

By Junot Diaz (Riverhead)

Nine linked stories that star Yunior, a pining, self-lacerating, weed-smoking schmo who confuses lust with love. Written in a singular idiom of Spanglish, hip-hop poetry and professorial erudition, it is comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness. — Ron Hansen

WHAT IT WAS

By George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur)

Pelecanos returns to his detective Derek Strange, in 1972, as he hunts for a thug loosely based on Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, a notorious real-life Washington bad guy. Filled with the soul music, muscle cars and bizarre clothing of the era. — P.A.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Amazon's Editors pick 100 "Best Books of 2012" (Fiction and Non-fiction). The list does not appeared to be ranked. And several of them have been discussed here.

Update:

I was poking around the Washington Post website and they narrowed down their Fiction/Non-fiction 100 list to a Top Ten. And then I stumbled upon another list that they made which included Fiction/Non-fiction and Graphic Novels. Kinda confusing.

Edited by Gavin Breeden
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I was poking around the Washington Post website and they narrowed down their Fiction/Non-fiction 100 list to a Top Ten. And then I stumbled upon another list that they made which included Fiction/Non-fiction and Graphic Novels. Kinda confusing.

Yes, there's a slide show with the choices, but I wondered, Who'd want to click through 50 or 100 slides?

However, since I can't find a registration-free link to the Nonfiction list, here's the slideshow, which I think includes both nonfiction and fiction. I haven't clicked through it, so I'm not sure.

EDIT: That slideshow is just 20 books. I think it's the top 10 for fiction and nonfiction.

And here are the top audiobooks, none of which I've read. Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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From Amazon's list:

Round House by Louise Erdrich--I have it sitting by my chair & I plan to start it this week.

I've read:

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers--wow.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed--mixed emotions about it.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain--a life-changing book for me.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey--liked the mix of fairy tale and historical fiction.

I read the short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" and I may give the rest of the book a try based on that story. The short story is in The Best American Short Stories 2012."

There's a few I may give a try--Wilderness, Dear Life: Stories, This is How You Lose Her.

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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From Amazon's List:

Started:

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: on my Kindle. I've started it. Good so far.

Finished:

-Mortality: Hitchens' pen and wit are as sharp as ever in his final book of essays as he writes about dying of cancer. Sure, his understanding of Christian prayer bears little resemblance to how and why Christians actually pray, but I'm willing to overlook that because he's typically such a fine, thoughtful, and witty writer.

-Wild: I'm also of mixed emotions on this one. I enjoyed her writing but have many, many philosophical differences with her about life and so that made it a frustrating read at times.

-This is How You Lose Her: wonderful prose, heartbreaking stories, more sexual stuff than I cared for.

-How Children Succeed: Fascinating book which argues that character has more to do with a child's success in school and in life than IQ or any other factor.

Still many on this list I want to read:

Telegraph Avenue, The Yellow Birds, Gone Girl, The Last Policeman, NW, Shine, Shine, Shine, and others

Edited by Gavin Breeden
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Publishers Weekly

I'm glad to see Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain on the list. I haven't read it, but I like what I've heard about it, regardless of the book's negative review in the New York Times.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Huffington Post has a Top 24 tha includes Geoff Dyer's Zona, Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books and Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her.

GQ goes with Tom Perotta's The Leftovers, The Marriage Plot by Geoffrey Eugenides and Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Huffington Post has a Top 24 tha includes Geoff Dyer's Zona, Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books and Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her.

GQ goes with Tom Perotta's The Leftovers, The Marriage Plot by Geoffrey Eugenides and Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan.

I have Marilynne Robinson's book here, but have yet to read it. Maybe I'll pick it up sooner rather than later, now. :)

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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Hi, Christian. That GQ link and the books it mentioned are from 2011. I enjoyed a ton from the 2011 list, but couldn't find the 2012 list yet. I will keep searching, but please post if you find it before I do.

My favorite 2012 novels were Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL, Michael Koryta's THE PROPHET and Ben Fountain's BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK. Dan Chaon's collection of short stories, STAY AWAY, was excellent as well. I also enjoyed the new novels from Richard Ford, Kurt Anderson, Walter Mosley, T. Jefferson Parker and Don Winslow a ton. I almost forgot to mention The Orphan Master's Son, which at times was a slog, but I was glad I stuck with by the end. David Swinson wrote a DC-based police procedural that feels like it was written exactly for my tastes and interests--a front-handed criticism, perhaps.

I usually move on after finishing something, but if anyone is interested in discussing the Billy Lynn book, I thing there is much to consider.

On the non-fiction front, ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14 was terrific and the perfect pairing with THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON. Christopher Hitchen's MORTALITY consists of mostly essays I'd already read, but it packs a punch. Neil Young's WAGING HEAVY PEACE is among the strangest books I've ever read. I hesitate to recommend it and never would if it weren't just so odd that it needs to be considered even if you skim it. Much like with Chronicles, if we find out someday that a ghost wrote it, I will be devastated.

It will be well into 2013 before I get to the 2012 books I want to read from Kevin Powers, Hilary Mantel, Thomas H. Cook, Wiley Cash and Jami Attenburg that sound like winners. I hope the new Michael Connelly is available from my library wait list before the Christmas break. Two of my long-time favorite authors wrote books that were good, but I wish had been better.

2012 marks the third collection of essays from Marylinne Robinson--author of novels that I can nearly quote--that I read while the words gloss over my simple mind.

Ever since my kids were born a few years back and my spare time went down to zero I've kept a list of books I've read and, predictably, I've resorted to padding the stats with novellas and short story collections. In 2013 I want to ignore such considerations and read the long novels from Mantel and others. Maybe even tackle Bleak House, which I have put off for years.

Best wishes to all of you friends.

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Hi, Christian. That GQ link and the books it mentioned are from 2011.

Does it? The article is listed as "GQ's Best Books of 2012" and reads:

GQ's Book of the Year Club

We asked our favorite authors of 2011 to pick their top reads of the past twelve months. Between their choices and ours, you've got twenty-one extra-engrossing books—as well as the entire oeuvre of Rob Low

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Hi, Christian. That GQ link and the books it mentioned are from 2011.

Does it? The article is listed as "GQ's Best Books of 2012" and reads:

GQ's Book of the Year Club

We asked our favorite authors of 2011 to pick their top reads of the past twelve months. Between their choices and ours, you've got twenty-one extra-engrossing books—as well as the entire oeuvre of Rob Low

Hmmm... The article is indeed titled "Best Books of 2012" but directly beneath the byline it says "December 2011" and I didn't notice any 2012 books actually on the list. The only thing I can figure is the article is mis-titled?

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The New York Times Book Review posts their list of "100 Notable Books of 2012." List is alphabetized and split into "Fiction and Poetry" and "Non-Fiction."

Some familiar titles in the list and some new ones (to me, at least) as well.

I've read Sherman Alexie's Blasphemy. I really enjoyed it, but since SA is one of my favorite authors, I may be a bit biased. :)

A Land More Kind Than Home is also another good read.

I plan on starting The Round House in the next few days, I hope. I'm on a Louise Erdrich reading jag right now and I'm reading one of her earlier novels.

I'm glad to see The Yellow Birds on the list.

There are also books on that list I want to read--Chabon's, Diaz, Alif the Unseen.

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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Slate Book Review Top 10 of 2012

In general, I prefer a Top 10 to "100 Notable Books," but in any case, the lists start to get dull after the third or fourth iteration because they include so much overlap. Same thing happens with Top 10 movie lists each year.

EDIT: Oh, there's more at the site!

Dan Kois' Top 15 Books of 2012

20 Overlooked Books of 2012 (now THAT'S a list)

Slate Staff Picks (Hint: They all chose Obama. Wait ... wrong list.) (I was excited to see the Zona pick! And then I read the description. ... Sigh.)

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Benjamin Schwarz at the Atlantic.

Is Hilary Mantel not on any of these lists? :)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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NPR

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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We really are into the "one list looks just like another" phase of year-end awards, aren't we?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Paste has some different titles. I don't think I've heard of most of them.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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