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.  

2012 Best: Science, Comics, You Name It

Recent additions to Chicken Spaghetti's Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards include two favorite annual roundups, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA): Outstanding science trade books for students K-12 and Good Comics for Kids' gift guide. One newsworthy announcement today was the New York Times Book Review: Notable Children's Books of 2012.

School Library Journal begins announcing its best-of-2012 list this evening on Twitter

Also newly added to the Chicken Spaghetti list:

Abby the Librarian (blog): Nonfiction

Boing Boing Gift Guide (long list includes several children's books)

Columbus Dispatch

Costa Children's Book Award shortlist (UK)

Cuyahoga County Public Library. Kudos to the snappy-looking design of this guide.

Drawn Blog: "Favourite comics, art books, and more" list includes some titles for kids (Canada)

Irish Book AwardsScroll down on the page for the children's book categories. See also the shortlists for senior and junior categories of children's books. 

Kirkus Reviews

Slate (one picture book on list; rest of books for adults) 

2012 Best: Nat'l Book Award, Outdoor Books, WaPo, and More


Some recent updates to The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards:

Booklist Top ten religion & spirituality books for youth

Library Journal: Young adult literature for adults

National Book Award for Young People's LiteratureScroll down on page.

National Outdoor Book Awards. A children's book category is included.

Rainbow Book List nominations. GLBTQ books for children and teens.

Washington Post

Bonus list: Three architectural books for kids, at A Weekly Dose of Architecture

Best Books Season Begins! Book Lists Galore

Let it snow! For those of us who love a good list, the last two months of the year bring a flurry of online "best of the year" roundups of books. Starting in 2008, I've been collecting the lists for children's books, including links to various newspapers, magazines, journals, and blogs, as well as different literature prizes and awards given out. I update the big list often.

Here is a link to this year's page:

The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards

Also, David Gutowski collects all the "best of" lists for books (for grown-ups and kids alike) at his blog, Largehearted Boy.

Meanwhile, speaking of snow, don't miss Kids' Science Books for Stormy Weather, at Scientific American's Budding Scientist blog.

National Book Award Finalists 2012

If you are like me and forgot to watch the announcement on the "Morning Joe" show, Publishers Weekly has the scoop. 

The nominees for the Young People's Literature prize are as follows:

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets

Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach

Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down

Eliot Schrefer, Endangered 

Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon 

Junot Diaz, Short Stories, and Such

Junot Diaz's latest book is This Is How You Lose Her, a collection of short stories, released in September by Riverhead. Yesterday the MacArthur Foundation announced its annual awards, the so-called "genius" grants, one of which went to Diaz. $500,000, no strings attached.

9780802133991On the day before the grants were announced, the New York Times Magazine ran a short interview with the author, focusing on short fiction. I was intrigued by the collections Diaz cited as influential; I have not read any of them. He mentioned

Aha! Books to look for on the next trip to the library. Walking the dog in the rain this afternoon, I coped with the downpour by coming up with a roster of short story collections I admire. Everyone's lists are so different! Here's mine. What's yours?

Image borrowed from Powell's Books. Links go to Powell's, also. I do not get any money from the store for linking. I have had good experiences ordering books there.

Fishin' and Swimmin'

Yesterday my son and I spent the afternoon by the river. The spot we like is not a whole lot wider than a creek; at that point, the water is shallow, and clear and full of stones to skip. Junior fished, and I read. He caught a trout. I showed him how to hold the fish firmly while you unhook it. He did that, and then threw it back. Too small to keep. He continued fishing, and I finished Leanne Shapton's Swimming Studies, an illustrated meditation on pools and competitive swimming. Lately, the almost-adolescent and I are butting heads lot, usually over screen time, but our hours by the water yesterday were unhurried and sweet.

2012 Australian Children's Book Awards

The blog of Boomerang Books, an Australian bookstore, brings news of the Aussie children's books of the year, announced today.

Bob Graham's A Bus Called Heaven is the picture book of the year; it's available here in the US, too. I could live in a Bob Graham book and be perfectly happy—humor and generosity abound.

The website of the Children's Book Council of Australia, sponsor of the prizes, seems to be down at the moment. When it's fixed, I will link it here.

Added later: Children's Book Council of Australia: Book of the Year 2012 Winners