Best New-to-Me Authors of 2012

It’s really hard for me to believe that 2012 so close to being over.  The first half of the year seemed to drag for me but, especially from September onward, the second half is flying by.  Maybe that’s because I’m retiring at the end of the year and still have so much to do before I can turn in my office key…or just maybe, it’s because 2012 has turned out to be such a great year for discovering new authors.

In no particular order, here are the five the new-to-me writers I’m happiest about finding this year, along with the book that turned me on to them (titles are linked to my review of each title):

Robert Goolrick, author of Heading Out to Wonderful

Lynn Shepherd, author of The Solitary House

Jessica Gregson, author of The Angel Makers
Andromeda Romano-Lax, author of The Detour
Joseph Schuster, author of The Might Have Been

Hey, I just realized something.  Of the five novels, Joe Schuster’s baseball book is the only one with a contemporary setting.  One takes place in WWII Italy, one in WWII Hungary, one in barely post-WWII America, and the other in the London-era very familiar to readers of Dickens novels.  I must be getting nostalgic in my old age – even for periods before my own time.  Hmmm.


Best Books of 2012 – at the Three-Quarters Mark

Three-quarters of the way through 2012 already, and I’m finding that my “Best Of” lists are beginning to solidify quicker than in past years.  That might be because this year’s lists are limited to books published between October 1, 2011 and December 1, 2012 rather than being open to everything I read during the calendar year.  This is what it looks like as of September 30 (with changes highlighted):


Fiction:
1.     Edge of Dark Water – Joe Lansdale East Texas redneck noir at its finest
2.     The Angel Makers – Jessica Gregson – Hungarian women react badly to the aftermath of World War I
3.     The Headmaster’s Wager Vincent Lam – Betting it all on one throw of the dice
4.     Canada Richard Ford – Some borders are forever
5.     Heading Out to Wonderful Robert Goolrick – Spare me the good old days
6.     The Solitary House Lynn Shepherd – Period mystery using many Bleak House characters
7.     The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes – Run that past me again
8.     The World without You Joshua Henkin – One family’s Fourth of July fireworks
9.     A Blaze of Glory Jeff Shaara – What could have been but for one bullet
10.  The Beautiful Mystery Louise Penny – Monkish murder in a monastry
Nonfiction:
1.     The One – R.J. Smith – “the life and music of James Brown”
2.     Game Over – Bill Moushey, Bob Dvorchak – the horror of Jerry Sandusky and his enablers lives on
3.     Private Empire – Steve Coll – “ExxonMobil and American Power”
4.     The End of Your Life Book Club – Will Schwalbe – Loving books to the finish line
5.     Visiting Tom – Michael Perry – Gifts from a village elder
6.     Holy Ghost Girl – Donna M. Johnson – growing up while following a tent preacher from town to town
7.     Wild – Cheryl Strayed – one woman’s hike for her life
8.     Taking Flak – Dan Pastorini – Frank memoir from a Houston Oiler quarterback
9.     This Mobius Strip of Ifs Mathias B. Freese – Essays and memories from a thinker
10.     The End of IllnessDavid B. Agus, M.D. – alternative medicine and new technology combine

Best Books of 2012 – at Mid-Year

Half-way through 2012 already, and I’m finding these to be the best new books that I’ve encountered to this point.  This year’s lists are limited to books published between October 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.  That means that other worthy books will not be on the lists this year because they do not qualify as “new” titles. 


Fiction:
1.     Edge of Dark Water – Joe Lansdale East Texas redneck noir at its finest
2.     The Angel Makers – Jessica Gregson – Hungarian women react badly to the aftermath of World War I
3.     Canada Richard Ford – Some borders cannot be uncrossed
4.     The World Without You Joshua Henkin – One family’s Fourth of July fireworks
5.     The Might Have Been Joseph M. Schuster – A lifetime in the minor leagues
6.     The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes – What really happened?
7.     The Solitary House Lynn Shepherd – Period mystery using many Bleak House characters
8.     The Red House Mark Haddon – Two families get to know each other way too well
9.     The Fear Artist Timothy Hallinan – Bad things are happening in Bangkok
10.  The Detour Andromeda Romano-Lax – Hitler loots Italy before World War II
Nonfiction:
1.     The One – R.J. Smith – “the life and music of James Brown”
2.     Game Over – Bill Moushey, Bob Dvorchak – the horror of Jerry Sandusky and his enablers lives on
3.     Private Empire – Steve Coll – “ExxonMobil and American Power”
4.     Holy Ghost Girl – Donna M. Johnson – growing up while following a tent preacher from town to town
5.     Taking Flak – Dan Pastorini – frank sports autobiography from former Oiler quarterback
6.     Wild – Cheryl Strayed – one woman’s hike for her life
7.     This Mobius Strip of Ifs Mathias B. Freese – Essays and memories
8.     The End of IllnessDavid B. Agus, M.D. – alternative medicine and new technology combined
9.     Out of My League Dirk Hayhurst – He finally makes it to The Show for a little while
10.  The Voluntourist – Ken Budd – volunteering for manual labor all over the world

Best of 2012 – First Quarter

Hard as it is for me to believe, we are already at the end of the first quarter of 2012.  This is proving to be one of my favorite reading years in a long while because it seems that everywhere I turn this year, I’m finding another great book to read,  That means that, although I read strictly from my TBR stack for the whole month of January, that stack seems to reach a record height about three times a week – and it’s still growing.

To this point, these are my favorite novels of 2012 – books that entertained me, made me think, taught me lessons about the world, and kept me up way too late on work nights:

1.  State of Wonder – Ann Patchett – an unforgettable drama in the Amazon
2.  The Might Have Been – Joseph M. Schuster – baseball and life
3.  The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes – read this one very carefully
4.  Edge of Dark Water – Joe R. Lansdale – hillbilly noir
5.  The Angel Makers – Jessica Gregson – WWI historical fiction
6.  The Beginner’s Goodbye – Anne Tyler – a deceptively simple tale
7.  The Detour – Andromeda-Romano-Lax – a WWII love story/thriller
8.  Taft 2012 – Jasons Heller – Taft runs for president in 2012
9.  Carry the One – Carol Anshaw – guilt carried for a lifetime
10. The Iguana Tree – Michel Stone – sympathetic look at illegal immigration

So much good fiction has found its way to me that my nonfiction reading has unfortunately suffered greatly.  Because I have only read seven nonfiction titles in the last 90 days, I am going to hold off until at least the end of June to post my first nonfiction Top 10 list.

I can’t wait to see what surprises me in the second quarter.