The Best Books of 2012

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Picking my favorite books of the year was really tough — there were even more books reviewed on GeekDad in the past year than there were board games. So if your favorite book didn’t make the list, rest assured: many of my favorites didn’t, either.

But this list, for me, serves as a reminder of some of the ones that really got my attention, books that I’ll be picking up for a re-read … once I get through my current review stack a little, of course. I’ll pick my favorite in each category, with a couple of honorable mentions, because I just couldn’t not mention them.

Here are some of our favorite books (reviewed in 2012). I’ve got a couple from various genres; Erik Wecks brings a list of favorite indie titles, and James Floyd Kelly mentions a couple stand-outs from this year. Clearly this year I need to read some more nonfiction, but for now I give you these.

Jonathan’s picks:

Picture book: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (review) wins, with its excellent combination of simple illustrations and simple sentences telling a very amusing tale. Honorable mention goes to Chloe & the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (review) for a wonderful meta-story about picture books.

Kid fiction: Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger (review) edges out the others, if only for the amount of giggling induced. But A Hero for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi (review), a great sci-fi book for slightly older kids, is a very close second and gets an honorable mention. (Okay, WondLa may be my top choice, but my kids were definitely hooked on Fako Mustacho.)

Quirk Award: This special award goes to Keep Our Secrets by Jordan Crane and McSweeney’s McMullens (review), for its thermochromatic ink that vanishes when it’s heated.

Young Adult fiction: My top two picks were both series and it was tough choosing between them, but Beth Revis’ Across the Universe sci-fi trilogy (review) had me anticipating the final volume, due out this month. Honorable mention goes to the Super Human series by Michael Carroll (review), for a great set of tales about super-powered kids.

Kid comics: This one I’m gonna call a tie: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (review) and Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado (review) have both been read so many times that they may soon fall apart.

Adult comics: I listed so many in my Comics as Literature series but most of these aren’t actual full reviews or the first time I’d read them. But for me one of the best experiences was finally reading Will Eisner’s work, including A Contract With God (review), and starting to understand just how much he influenced the comics industry. On a less serious note, I’ll add Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown (review) as an honorable mention, for a short but hilarious look at Star Wars and parenting.

Adult fiction: I tried very hard to cut this one down to just two titles, but I couldn’t do it. So we’ll have a tie for winner and tie for runner-up. Winners are Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (review) and Mr. Penubmra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (review), both books that mash up ancient and modern technology, but with very different results. Honorable mentions go to Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson (review) about a videogame blogger encountering aliens and Shadow Show, a tribute to Ray Bradbury by various writers (review).

Erik’s picks:

Best Indie Fiction: Hugh Howey’s Wool (review). Howey’s book was the Indie breakout hit of 2012.

Best Indie Comedy: Ernie Lindsey’s Going Shogun (review). This sleeper about two waiters doing anything necessary to climb the ladder in a corporate dominated dystopia is laugh out loud funny and a great science fiction read as well. Clearly a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for a new generation.
Best Indie Whodunnit: Badwater by Toni Dwiggins (review) is a taut thriller which uses the environment of Death Valley with great aplomb and skill. Its close encounters with radiation will give the reader chills and it has the best closing act of any book I have read in years.
Best New Indie Series: Avarice by Annie Bellet. (Review) This is a sword and sorcery meets law and order series which will please anyone who likes fantasy and enjoys a good murder mystery. Set in a world bursting with possibilities, this series will keep readers coming back for more.
Jim’s picks:

Television Non-Fiction: Future books for fans of televisions shows will have to really shine if they want to compare to this year’s winner, Firefly: A Celebration (review). Leather-bound hardcover with gold-leaf title and more full-color photos than you can count.

Super-Hero Fiction, Foreign: India has all the superheroes in the absolute best superhero fiction novel of 2012, Turbulence (review) by Samit Basu. Excellent storytelling with believable heroes and villains and some new twists on superpowers. (Note: currently only available in the UK, but is available for US preorder now.)

If you read only one book this year … what are you, nuts? Seriously, cut out some TV or something and make time to read. Well, what did you read this past year that you loved?

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