Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 at 09:45 AM
It’s the season — festive times, good cheer and lists of the best books of the year. They start popping up as early as October and proceed up through Christmas, depending on the source. The Seattle Times will publish its best-books list Dec. 16, but here’s an early peek at what others are saying.
I surveyed four lists of best books of 2012: Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, Huffington Post and The Washington Post (last year I was able to include Library Journal, but its nominations weren’t available at press time). Here’s a list of books, six novels and one work of nonfiction, that appeared on two of four lists, alphabetized by author:
1.“Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo (Random House). This year’s winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction tells the intertwining stories of several residents of a Mumbai slum as they grapple with the death of a female resident and a young man falsely accused of her murder (Amazon, Washington Post).
2. “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich(Harper). This tour de force novel by Erdrich won this year’s National Book Award for fiction, and deservedly so: it’s an utterly riveting narrative of what happens to a Native-American family after the mother is assaulted and the father and son embark, each on his own, in a search for justice (Publishers Weekly, Amazon).
3.“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green(Dutton Juvenile). For ages 14 and older — two young people with cancer meet, fall in love and travel to Amsterdam in search of the mysterious author of a novel about cancer (Huffington Post, Amazon).
4.“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Crown). This best-selling thriller tells this story: On the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, a beautiful, talented wife disappears from her McMansion in Missouri, and a portrait unfolds of a marriage gone wrong (Amazon, Huffington Post).
5.“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain (Ecco). In this masterful debut novel a squad of American soldiers survives a vicious firefight in Iraq; all become national heroes and are sent on a Pentagon-mandated goodwill American tour. Complications ensue (Amazon, Washington Post).
6. “Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel(Henry Holt). The incandescent second novel in Mantel’s projected trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s right-hand man. “Bodies” is darker than “Wolf Hall,” but just as enthralling. These truly are books for the ages (Publishers Weekly, Washington Post).
7.“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers(Little, Brown). Another contribution to the emerging literature of the Iraq war; in this novel Powers tells the story of two young soldiers, comrades in arms, in the thick of the fight. One comes back, the other doesn’t, and the survivor must deal with the return home (Amazon, Huffington Post).
Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW’s “Well Read,” discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to www.tvw.org/shows/well-read for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.