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Norman's Best Books of 2012

Note from Susan: For the fourth year in a row, my husband, Norman, has written about his favorite books of the year. He's the reading-est guy I know, so seeing him hard at work on his list always makes me happy, knowing that I'm about to read—and sharesome great recommendations. Hit it, Norm.

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I am happy to share with Susan’s readers my list of the best books that I’ve read over the last 12 months. The three most powerful were The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, and Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman. These books were so well-written and engrossing that they were hard to put down and stayed with me long after I finished them, despite the difficult topics (the effects of war in The Yellow Birds; the devastating poverty of people living in an Indian slum in Behind the Beautiful Forevers; and the hard life of a young girl growing up in a trailer park outside of Reno, Nevada, in Girlchild). The Yellow Birds and Behind the Beautiful Forevers received the wide critical acclaim and recognition they deserved; one was a finalist for this year’s National Book Award in fiction and the other was the nonfiction winner. I hope that over time more people will read and appreciate the excellent writing and unique storytelling in Ms. Hassman’s book.

Adding two more to come up with my top 5 reads of the year is easy: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz and The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. Díaz’s collection of stories about love and family is at times moving and at times laugh-out-loud funny, but always smart and entertaining. And Colm Tóibín is just a beautiful storyteller, and this novella about Jesus’ mother is both courageous and thought-provoking.

Continue reading "Norman's Best Books of 2012" »

2012 Best: Amanda Craig, NPR's "Backseat" Reads, Pop-Ups, Etc.

More lists for all you list lovers! You'll find another good list of lists at SCC English, the blog of the English department at Dublin's St. Columba's College. The SCC list o' lists is geared toward books for adults.

100 Scope Notes At this fine blog, new to School Library Journal's roster, two school librarians choose the best of the year. 

Amanda Craig. A best list from the Times' (UK) children's book critic. 

Atlantic Wire. YA/Middle-Grade Book Awards.

Booklist's Editors' Choice selections.

Horn Book Fanfare

Ireland's Gutter Bookshop list includes books for children.

Morris Award finalists. Prize honors YA books by debut authors. Winners announced in January.

MotherReader. She knows her picture books.

NPR: "The year's outstanding 'backseat' reads, for ages 9-14"

San Francisco Chronicle. Holiday gift guide for children's books and Christmas books.'s Top Books of 2012. Not a list of children's books, but plenty of good gift ideas for teens and grown-ups.

TimeOut New York Kids: Best pop-up books for pre-K and elementary-school kids

Vogue. Good list of books for adults. (My first job out of college was at Vogue. I learned a lot there!)

You'll find many more at Chicken Spaghetti's page "The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards."

2012 Best: NYC and LA Libraries, Science Books, Comics

Every day a new "best of the year" lineup appears, and our wish list grows. Recent addtions to The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards include the following:

 New York Public Library: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Los Angeles Public Library:  Children's books and  teen books

New York Times Book Review: Notable Children's Books of 2012

Booklist: Top ten science & health books for youth

Good Comics for Kids' gift guide. New and older titles on this list.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: Gift guide. (2010-2012 titles on list.)

Geek Mom: Gift guide of books for adults and children

The Guardian (UK)

Tablet Magazine: Best Jewish-themed books for children

YALSA [Young Adult Library Services Association] Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young AdultsFinalists

The Goodreads Choice Awards were announced.

Another timely arrival is Hanukkah Read Up!, a PDF file listing the best Hanukkah books, from the Association of Jewish Libraries.