When Book Club asked friends, readers, contributors for their favourite book of the year, we opened the floor not just to books released in 2012 but any book you might have read this year – not because there was a shortage of great books released this year (not that at all), but because with the millions of wonderful books written every year other than 2012 why would you ever confine your reading list to only the latest releases? So take a look at our admittedly subjective and far from comprehensive (aren’t all book lists?) Best of 2012, and get compiling your 2013 must-reads:
Joelle Jefferis, 20, social anthropology, Game of Thrones (1996), or A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin
Epic in length and epic in nature. The TV adaption can never match this brilliant fantasy series, George RR Martin has probably created a more complete world than the one I am meant to be inhabiting in the daytime, and, even better, his world has got dragons.
Agnes Chambre, 20, philosophy: The City’s Son by Tom Pollock, (2012)
A debut fantasy novel that came out earlier this year to some impressive acclaim. I’m not an avid fantasy reader (obviously excepting Harry Potter) but the story’s familiar London setting, captured perfectly by the author, draws you in and grounds fantastical riffs on the grind of city living.
Will Westerman, 20, philosophy: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, (1952)
The subtlety and delicacy with which Steinbeck sculpts new depths for his characters, both in strengths and often fatal weaknesses, is something that makes you marvel in wonder at a man so honed in his craft. A staggering feat of grandiose imagination allegorical and yet so utterly pertinent to the everyday lives we live as people; a book which should be deemed essential reading for anyone who seeks an understanding of what it is to be human.
Phoebe Chambre, 23, music student and Books editor: a two-way tie between Hot Pink by Adam Levin (2012) and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (2011)
This was a really tough decision (and I also want to name-check Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest (2011) and No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (2007) both of which you should read), but I have to include The Pale King, the incomplete posthumously published novel by David Foster Wallace which I got around to reading this year, as it’s the last work we have from the author after his tragic, unexpected death in 2008 – the last piece in an incomplete puzzle. Whilst it is by no means my favourite DFW book it is still heads and heads and shoulders and shoulders above most (any) other thing that you might read. And Hot Pink actually came out this year, the first thing I had read by Adam Levin; a beautiful book that I read almost whole.
Phillipa Moran, 19, social anthropology, The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, (2008)
Something in the blurb drew me to this book – that it didn’t fulfil its usual function of describing the novel intrigued me. It just said “Once you’ve read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds”. So I can’t go into great detail, but I can tell you that it is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a while. It will definitely make you think differently about certain things…
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