The Best Books of 2012: Lists by The New York Times, NPR, The Guardian and More

If books fig­ure into your hol­i­day gift-giv­ing plans, then we’ve got a lit­tle some­thing for you — a meta list of the best books of 2012. It’s now Decem­ber, the final month of the year, which means that news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines can start tak­ing stock of 2012 and declare their favorites.

The New York Times Book Review announced The 10 Best Books of 2012 this week­end, just a few days after nam­ing the 100 Notable Books of 2012. Some famil­iar names appear on the win­nowed down list — Robert Caro, Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith — but I’m most tempt­ed by Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?: An Exis­ten­tial Detec­tive Sto­ry. The ques­tion has crossed my mind late­ly.

The Wash­ing­ton Post boils down three lists — The Best Graph­ic Nov­els of 201250 Notable Works of Fic­tion50 Notable Works of Non­fic­tion — to one. Behold The Top 10 Books of 2012. Fic­tion-wise, I’m not blown away by the picks. But, when it comes to Non­fic­tion, they’re on the mark with House of Stone: A Mem­oir of Home, Fam­i­ly, and a Lost Mid­dle East by Antho­ny Sha­did, the award-win­ning New York Times jour­nal­ist who died ear­li­er this year in Syr­ia.

You can find more good reads with “Best of” lists cre­at­ed by NPR, Pub­lish­ers Week­lyEsquire, Huff­Po and The Guardian. And if you’re look­ing for a deal, don’t miss this: is now offer­ing 40% off books appear­ing on its list of 2012 Edi­tors’ Picks. Mean­while has pro­duced its own list of favorites, and it’s worth high­light­ing if only because, when you sign up for a Free Tri­al, you can down­load one of their selec­tions (or pret­ty much any oth­er audio­book you want) for free. Learn more and ini­ti­ate the free down­load here.

Now my dear fel­low read­ers, it’s your turn. We want to hear what books (pub­lished in 2012) left the strongest impres­sion on you. Give us your thoughts in the com­ments sec­tion below and we’ll pub­lish the Open Cul­ture Best of 2012 list lat­er this week. We look for­ward to hear­ing your picks!

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Comments (8)
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  • The thing with these lists is you have to go back and try fig­ure out which of the books you read was actu­al­ly released in 2012. Most of the books I read were some­how released a cou­ple of years back.

    That said, I real­ly enjoyed read­ing The Humorist by Rus­sell Kane. Dark but fun­ny. I love that kind of stuff.

  • Vahid says:

    I’m read­ing ‘Thomas Jef­fer­son: The art of Pow­er’ by Jon Meacham. Although haven’t fin­ished it yet, but it seems to be a well-researched book with impar­tial and fair nar­ra­tive of his life. And the more I read, the more I’m impressed by the man.

  • CJ Fearnley says:

    Edward S. Pop­ko’s book “Divid­ed Spheres: Geo­des­ics and the Order­ly Sub­di­vi­sion of the Sphere” is a read­able design source­book for spher­i­cal design work. Many, many gor­geous col­or images.

  • Roy Niles says:

    The Strate­gic Intel­li­gence of Trust, Non-fic­tion. No life would or could have evolved with­out a strat­e­gy, no strat­e­gy with­out intel­li­gence, no intel­li­gence with­out trust.

  • The Col­lec­tive by Don Lee was amaz­ing­ly engag­ing; I still think about it and it’s been months (and sev­er­al books) since I’ve read it. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

  • M Wesenberg says:

    Kather­ine Boo Behind the Beau­ti­ful Fore­vers was the most enjoy­able, enlight­en­ing book I read this year.

  • Sharon says:

    Defend­ing Jacob
    The Fault in Our Stars

  • newsaintnews says:

    The Crav­ing and the Cross is a bold polit­i­cal thriller. The vil­lain is a CEO who has achieved incred­i­ble finan­cial suc­cess. He lives with­out lim­its. Beau­ti­ful women sub­mit to his desires and men want to be like him. He lives an envi­able life of pow­er, pas­sion and intrigue. He appears to have achieved his every desire but feels unful­filled. He can­not accept aging, death and the even­tu­al loss of his wealth and pow­er. His greed will not allow him to die. He is approach­ing age forty and has become con­sumed with find­ing the key to immor­tal­i­ty.

    Our hero Joe is a home­less man, who loves virtue and believes that God speaks to him. He tries to share his wis­dom with any­one who will lis­ten but swarms of peo­ple ignore him as they busi­ly rush to work. One day Joe is stand­ing across the street from a bank when two men exit. Both men have tak­en a hostage. They have their guns drawn and their arms around the women’s necks. He cross­es the street, mov­ing quick­ly toward the gun­men. The first gun­man fires, he miss­es twice. Joe con­tin­ues to move toward them. The sec­ond man fires. His gun jams. He throws it at Joe it miss­es him. The gun goes off as it hits the ground. The bul­let shat­ters a glass win­dow as Joe con­tin­ues to move for­ward. The gun­men hear sirens. The hostages wig­gle free and the men run to their car. An Anchor­man at the scene of the rob­bery inter­views Joe. He becomes a media sen­sa­tion. Many view­ers spec­u­late that Joe may be the world’s next sav­ior, an authen­tic hero who can per­form mir­a­cles. Oth­ers say he is a schiz­o­phrenic and a heretic. His harsh­est crit­ics are from Wolf News, one of the com­pa­nies owned by the vil­lain­ous CEO. He fears Joe’s mes­sage and thinks it anti­thet­i­cal to mind­less con­sump­tion that his busi­ness­es require. He tries to destroy our hero until he dis­cov­ers that Joe is a key to his quest for immor­tal­i­ty.

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