As we start the new year, I thought I would share the best books I read in 2012. Some are new and some are older, but all of them were really enjoyable and engaging books.

best reads of 2012

Gone Girl: A Novel
This was probably the most-talked-about book of 2012 and for good
reason – it’s an engaging mystery written with a razor-sharp wit. It
will keep you up at night, turning pages until you come to the
surprising truth about the girl who vanished.

Angle of Repose (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
This isn’t a book I’d heard of, but our book club selected it and
once I got past the first chapter, I couldn’t put it down. On the
surface, it’s a story of life in the pioneering West, but underneath
it’s a relatable portrait of a marriage and the resentments that can so
easily poison a relationship.

How to Be Black
This humor book, by the former editor of The Onion, is a hilarious
but meaningful look at what it means to be black. People of all races
would enjoy this funny and though-provoking exploration of black
identity. Just don’t be surprised at the funny looks you get when
reading it.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
If you’ve had the chance to see Brene Brown’s TED talk on shame and
vulnerability, you are probably already a fan.  Her book Daring Greatly
continues to encourage us to be more vulnerable in our relationships.
It’s a transforming book full of both research and practical
application.

The Passage: A Novel
I can’t believe I’m about to recommend a novel about vampires, but
this book gripped me immediately and kept me up late at night (reading,
thinking, and sometimes completely terrified).  It’s a harrowing tale of
post-apocalyptic creatures who terrorize the earth, but it’s also an
existential journey about survival.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)
Jenny Lawson is one of my favorite bloggers so I was thrilled to hear
she was writing a book. This memoir contains the hilarity and quirky
stories you’d expect from Jenny, with a dose of poignancy as well.

Happier
at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson,
and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life

The follow-up to Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, this
book seeks to understand how to have more happiness at home. I found it
inspiring and hope to implement some of her practices in the coming
year.

A
Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting
on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”

I say this without exaggeration: this book may be the most important
read of the century for Christian women. Rachel takes an unflinching
look at what scripture says about the role of women, literally applying
it t her own life in an effort to understand how our current
interpretation (and picking and choosing) holds up to what the bible
really says.

Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life
I’ve followed Kyran as a blogger for some time, but I was astounded
at how impactful her book was.  A serious and vulnerable memoir of
motherhood and marriage, I recognized my own experience in this book and
loved her insightful take on suburban life.

The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning
This book was recommended to me by an educator I admire, and it put
into words the frustrations I’ve already felt about the amount of
homework my kids are saddled with each night. Whether you are
pro-homework or not, this is an important read for all parents and
teachers, with a good foundation of new research to back up their
claims.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
This book explores the true story of a young Hmong girl with
epilepsy, and the clash that occurs between her parents’ traditional
cultural beliefs and practices and that of the doctors who treat her.
It’s a fascinating and tragic exploration of both Western medicine and
the ethics of cultural sensitivity.

What were your favorite books of 2012?