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It’s the time of year for lists and gift-giving, so I’m combining the two in this list of novels I loved this year. They’re not necessarily books that were published during 2012; in fact, some of them go back a decade or more  (which shows you how far behind I am in my reading.) They belong to no particular genre, but are simply my favorite ten books among the hundred or so I must have read this year, chosen because they blew me away and sent me scrambling to find other work by the author. As much as we moan and groan about the publishing industry, there is certainly no dearth of good fiction out there. I hope you find some books here that you’ll enjoy reading and giving.

OBLIVION by Peter Abrahams. This 2009 thriller features a brain-damaged detective. It works on every level.

BORDER CROSSING by Pat Barker. I believe I’ve read every book Pat Barker has written. She’s a writer’s writer, and one of the greatest living English writers, in my not-so-humble  opinion.

THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick deWitt. Comic and tragic, a skewed Western.

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER  by Diana Gabaldon. Gabaldon is the most generous of writers, and this novel featuring Lord John Gray  is no exception.

GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin, plus sequels. Don’t start this series unless you have a month or two to spare.

STILL LIFE by Louise Penny. This is actually the first in her mystery series starring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Like I said, I’m behind on my reading. But having read the first, I’m scrambling to catch up.

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME by Donald Ray Pollock. Set in the mid-1900’s, Pollack’s book has totally deranged killers, a cast of grostesque but fascinating characters and an unlikely hero.

GONE GIRL by Gillian Ryan. Super-clever page-turner about the world’s most dysfunctional marriage. I also loved her earlier books.

THE EIGHT DWARF, by Ross Thomas. Thriller set in post WW II, wonderfully written with unforgettable characters.

THE PATRICK MELROSE NOVELS by Edward St. Aubyn. This collection of related novels contains the most brilliant writing I read all year, and he sure doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.

That’s my list. How about you:  what stand-out books did you read this year?

About Barbara Rogan

I am the author of nine novels, including A DANGEROUS FICTION, published by Viking and Penguin. I'm also a former editor and literary agent. Currently I teach fiction writing on my online school,
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6 Responses to MY YEAR IN BOOKS

  1. Ella Quinn says:

    I spent this year finding new authors. Tessa Dare and Katharine Ashe where two of them.

  2. Zan Marie says:

    Kate Morgan is a new one to me. I loved THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN. Kimberly Brock’s THE RIVER WITCH is hynotic and revealing.

  3. deniz says:

    Would you believe, I still haven’t read Louise Penny? I’ve got to add her to the wishlist!

  4. Peter Pollak says:

    My favorite reads in 2012 were Anne Patchett’s State of Wonder, Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing, Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram, Arnold Rampersad’s biography of Jackie Robinson, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and newcomer Jonathan Evison’s West of Here (after hearing him on a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books). Like you Barbara, my ‘to be read’ pile contains books I “should” have read years ago, but we writers have to take time out from our reading to write once in a while.

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