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    Book Club in a Bag

    Best of 2012

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    'Tis the season for best of the year booklists, just in time to help you with your Christmas shopping! If you have bibliophiles or avid readers on your list, have a look at some of the lists below for some ideas. We've also featured our top suggestions for those picky readers you know, one taken from each best list.

    Publishers Weekly Best Books 2012

    This list presents the ten best of 2012, including both fiction and nonfiction. Chris Ware's latest offering is the one that made it onto my "must-read" list. If you're in shopping mode, consider this one for the jaded reader who appreciates art and creativity, but has seen it all. This one is truly unique.

    Building Stories by Chris Ware

    is actually a collection of 14 books, including hardcover and soft pamphlet-style, housed in a keepsake box. The stories can be read in any order, and tell about the residents in a three-story Chicago apartment building, including a lonely single woman, a couple who are growing to despise each other, and an elderly landlady. As seen in the pages of The New Yorker, The New York Times and McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Building Stories collects a decade's worth of work, with dozens of "never-before published" pages (i.e., those deemed too obtuse, filthy or just plain incoherent to offer to a respectable periodical).

    This graphic novel is unlike anything you've seen, and would definitely make my list!

    Publishers Weekly notes that "Ware provides one of the year's best arguments for the survival of print" and raves "the spectacular, breathtaking visual splendor make this one of the year's standout graphic novels."


    Quill & Quire Books of the Year 2012 (fiction)

    Quill & Quire takes a different approach to the "best of" list; instead of a general list of the titles you'd see other places, they have chosen those that mattered the most in the world of fiction publishing. These top five are a mix of the stand-outs in terms of quality of writing and those that stood out due to the controversy or conversation generated around them.

    If you're shopping for someone who appreciates the classics, supports Canadian creative endeavours, or simply loves to read but doesn't have the time to devote to a long novel, you can't go wrong with the latest short story collection by one of Canada's literary treasures.

    Dear Life by Alice Munro

    is, impressively, the author's fourteenth short story collection at the age of 81. And more impressive is the fact that, as the Quill & Quire reviewer notes, "Munro continues to evolve, refusing to remain complacent with past successes." So, if you're shopping for a newly published book, and you want to choose something destined to become a classic, look no further.

     

     

    The Telegraph: Christmas 2012: fiction of the year

    This one's from the British perspective, and features more than a dozen best picks including a few upcoming releases to pre-order. Although Hilary Mantel's Man-Booker-Prize-winning Bring Up the Bodies (a sequel to 2009's Booker winner Wolf Hall) will be on everyone's lips, the book that caught my eye is a decidedly lighter work that would be a great gift for fans of Brit-lit and those with a healthy appreciation for quirkiness and dark humour.

     

    The Yips by Nicola Barker

    is fiction both outrageous and familiar, delving into family relationships with both commonplace and unusual, often hilarious, situations (as illustrated by the main pursuits of two of her characters: golf and genital tattooing). As The Telegraph notes, this author's "books aren’t so much breaths as wind tunnels of fresh air," and also notes, "No writer gets the darkness, hilarity and irrelevance of modern Britain better."

     

    For the American perspective, have a look at

    The Washington Post's best books of 2012

    Another list that includes both fiction and nonfiction, and also has a good selection of graphic novels among the twenty titles listed.

    One of the timeless genres, for me, is the coming-of-age novel. Whether the person on your Christmas list is young and able to identify with the story in the moment, or mature and contemplating the experiences that shape a person's life, many people can identify with and enjoy these novels.

    Arcadia by Lauren Groff

    is a coming-of-age story set on a commune in New York. From the bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton comes a lyrical and gripping story of a great American dream. In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this romantic, rollicking, and tragic utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after.

    ...and if you're STILL looking, and have an extremely picky reader to shop for, have a long browse through the

    Largehearted Boy's list of Best of 2012 Book Lists Online

    where you will find such gems as Most Disappointing (for the person you don't *really* want to shop for?); Cat Wisdom 101 (top cat books- YOU know who it's for); and myriad Best Cookbooks, Best Children's books, and anything else you will need!

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