In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2012. If you are seeking a gift for the reader on yer list, consider one of these books. And maybe even buy it at a local bookstore, a business that hires local workers and pays taxes in Rhode Island, unlike the on-line booksellers.
THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER. By Junot Diaz. A funny excursion to the 21st Century world of Latino immigration amid the power and pratfalls of obsessive coupling.
A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING: By Dave Eggers. A globalized `Death of a Salesman’ for a new century as Americans grope for deals in Saudi Arabia.
CANADA: By Richard Ford. Frank Bascombe doesn’t show up in this one, but Ford’s family tale is riveting. Ford is a great story teller.
NW: By Zadie Smith. Friendship and fate clash in modern day, multi-culti London.
THE MARRIAGE PLOT: By Jeffrey Eugenides. Young love and hormones on a Brown University campus salted with ample dollops of ideas and books.
CLIFF WALK. By Bruce DeSilva. Rhode Island’s underbelly exposed in this crime novel. Funny but darker than DeSilva’s debut novel, `Rogue’s Island.’
THE PASSAGE OF POWER.: The Years of Lyndon Johnson. By Robert Caro. The fourth volume of Caro’s life of LBJ. I just couldn’t put this one down. The story of JFK’s assassination told from the LBJ perspective and the early years of the Great Society.
BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS: By Katherine Boo. Remarkable narrative of life in a Mumbai slum by a meticulous reporter with a Jeweler’s eye for detail.
THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION: How 1965 transformed America. By James T. Patterson. Patterson, a Brown history professor emeritus, makes a strong case for 1965 as the pivotal year of the turbulent 1960s in a clearly-written work.
MORTALITY: By Christopher Hitchens. A wonderful writer, public intellectual, gadfly and Bon Vivant faces cancer and the end of his life. And, no, the famous atheist doesn’t have a death bed conversion.
PHILIP HOFF: How Red turned Blue in the Green Mountain state. By Sam Hand, Anthony Marro and Steve Terry. New England political cognoscenti will like this book about Hoff, who in 1962 became the first Democratic Vermont governor in over a century. (A hangover from late 2011 that I didn’t get around to until 2012).
ROGER WILLIAMS AND THE CREATION OF THE AMERICAN SOUL: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty. By John Barry. Providence native John Barry delves into how Roger Williams’ ideas forged the American culture of liberty and religious freedom. An insightful biography of an idea that includes context from the English Civil War and such vivid characters as King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell and Edmund Coke.
Next Up: On my Christmas vacation reading list:
DEAR LIFE. By Alice Munro. Any time this Scots-Canadian master of the short-story brings out a new book, I’m there.
IRON CURTAIN: By Anne Applebaum. The crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945 to 1956. How the Soviet Union extended its cruel system on its neighbors after World War 2 and brutally pursued the Cold War.
SWEET TOOTH: By Ian McEwan. Another of my favorite Brit novelists. Can’t wait to bite into this one.
I am, of course, always open to suggestions for 2013 books!