During 2011, I read a total of 111 books. I saw a definite drop off during 2012 where I only read 87 books. There are several reasons for this: first, the books I was reading were much longer than the ones in 2011 and my counseling load almost doubled from the year before, making it much more difficult to read. But in some ways I feel like the books I read during 2012 had much more impact than the 2011 slate of books.
Many of the books that I read during 2012 were not necessarily written during 2012, and therefore this is not a list of the best books of 2012. Most of these books were written within the last three years, but a good number were written many years before and I’ve just become aware of them during this last year. A few of them I’ve read before and I was coming back to them this last year.
Best Psychology Book-”The Brain That Changes Itself”by Norman Doidge. This is a groundbreaking book related to the theory of the plastic brain. This theory proposes that our brains are not static organs unable to change or make significant adjustments. The “plastic brain movement” has proven that almost any area of the brain can be reconditioned for a different purpose. This book is a crowning achievement of many different plastic brain endeavors.
Best novel-”11-22-63″ by Stephen King. King is the world’s best-selling novelist and his latest work may be one of his two or three best books ever. The premise of this book is based on the question “What would happen if someone went back and prevented Pres. Kennedy from being killed?” The answers will surprise you.
Best Reread from Days Gone by- “White Fang” by Jack London. Though I had read all of the books by Jack London related to the gold rush into the northern part of Canada and the United States when I was a boy, reading this book again after all these years gave me a new appreciation for the story writing abilities of London.
Best Science Fiction- “Blackout And All Clear” by Connie Willis. Willis is clearly one of the greatest science fiction writers of our day, but she also likes to write historical fiction. This book (the two books actually function as one) combines both her science knowledge and her love of the history of World War II.
Best Sports Book-”Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. In some ways this is so much more than the sports book. Is a book about survival, about the human condition, about God’s working in difficult situations and how young man’s love of running and staying in shape kept him alive when most would have died.
Best Self-Help Book-”Strength Finders 2.0″ by Tom Rath. The Strength Finders survey is given much more latitude in this book. As you work through it to find your strengths and your dynamics of achievement, this book will put it into a matrix that will help you find a job; perhaps even your best job.
Best Crime/Mystery-”Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. This devolves into one of the most brutal and honest account of what can happen when two people love themselves more than each other and they are too smart for their own good.
Best Christian/Devotional-”Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. This is a day by day diary which uses Scripture portraying it as God speaking directly to the ones reading the book. It is one of those books that calls to mind the best devotional books of the early 20th century.
Best Hard Science Fiction-”Rule 34″ by Charles Stross. As a science fiction fanatic, I make a distinction between regular science fiction, fantasy and hard science fiction. Hard SF focuses on the scientific principles involved in story, whereas regular science fiction is more concerned about the plot. This book by Stross is a tremendous example of a well-written science book set in the near future.
Best Fantasy Book-”Name Of The Wind/The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss. I read these two books in 10 days-they were that infectious. Rothfuss has sneaky habit of writing extremely slowly and this is going to make the third book so tantalizing and frustrating to those who read the first two.
Best Sequel-”A Dance With Dragons” by George RR Martin. Martin’s work is an acquired taste and very few people liked the first two books of the series. But each one seems to be getting better than that last.
Most Disappointing Book-”Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon. I’ve loved the work of Chabon for many years since I read his book the Yiddish Policeman’s Union. But this one failed to move me in any way. It is the story of a West Oakland neighborhood falling into disrepair, unable to rescue itself from the inevitable destruction. I wish I could say there was a plot twist that makes this easy to read, but there just isn’t. I was very disappointed at this work by very good writer.
Best Historical Book-”Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly. Though O’Reilly probably did not write the majority of this book (co-writer Martin Dugard did), his well-known name added a lot of new readers who would have passed by this historical account. This is the first in a series of books highlighting some of the great presidents, especially those who were assassinated. At every turn, there are surprising and enlightening facts about Lincoln’s life that will inform even the person who does not like history.