The best books of 2012

'The Round House' by Louise Erdrich
Book cover courtesy of publisher

We took a look back at the best books of 2012. We covered a lot of literary ground on The Daily Circuit this year, and many of the books featured on the show have ended up on critics' lists of top reads. But what books did we miss? What books were overlooked by the top critics?

Ron Charles, senior editor for The Washington Post Book World, fiction editor and weekly critic, joined The Daily Circuit Monday, Dec. 31 to go over his picks of the year.

David Ulin, book critic for The Los Angeles Times, also joined the discussion. He recently wrote about the year in fiction:

What made 2012 a compelling year in reading? For me, it was the return of the novel of ideas. These are novels that both portray and reflect upon the spirit of their moment, telling not just a story but using it to illustrate something about the world in which we live. It's been an endangered form since at least the early 1960s, when Philip Roth wrote that reality "is continually outdoing our talents, and the culture tosses up figures daily that are the envy of any novelist."


Richard Ford "Canada"

Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"

Paul Bowles "Sheltering Sky"

Hilary Mantel "Bring Up The Bodies"

Bonar Menninger "Mortal Error"

Liao Yiwu "God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China"

Barbara Kingsolver "The Poisonwood Bible"

Philip Connors "Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout"

Tana French "Broken Harbor"

Andrew Soloman "Far From The Tree"

Michael Connelly "The Black Box"

John Ratey and Eric Hagerman "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain"

Alan Paton "Too Late the Phalarope"

Zadie Smith "NW"

Diane Wilson "Spirit Car"

Ole Edvart Rolvaag "Giants in the Earth"

Kristen Iverson "Full Body Burden"

Don Miguel "Four Agreements"

Elizabeth Wein "Code Name Verity"

Kristin Kimball "The Dirty Life"

Ian McEwan "Sweet Tooth"

Ian Rankin "The Complaints"

Jack Kerouac "On The Road"

Katherine Boo "Behind the Beautiful Forevers"

Elliot Perlman "Streetsweeper"

Barbara Kingsolver "Flight Behavior"

Greg Olear "Father Mucker"

Andrew Miller "Pure"

David Rhodes "Driftless"

Shelby Foote "The Civil War: A Narrative"

Junot Diaz "This is How You Lose Her"

David Wong "John Dies at the End"

Wendell Affield "Muddy Jungle Rivers"

Kevin Powers "The Yellow Birds"

Michael Chabon "Telegraph Avenue"

Ben Fountain "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"

Carol Anshaw "Carry The One"

Maggie Shipstead "Charming Secrets"

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie "The Thing Around Your Neck"

Nicholas Baker "Human Smoke"

What were your favorite books of the year? Leave your picks in the comments below.


The 10 best books of 2012 (Washington Post)

100 notable books of 2012 (New York Times)

Best of 2012: David L. Ulin's top 10 books (Los Angeles Times)

Best books of 2012 (NPR)


Daily Circuit Books page

Katherine Boo on 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers'

Louise Erdrich on 'The Round House'

Hilary Mantel on 'Bring Up the Bodies'

David Quammen on 'Spillover'

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