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Best and Overlooked Books of 2012

Best and Overlooked Books of 2012

  The best and overlooked books of 2012 were discussed. This is our annual look at the best-sellers of the past year as well as the books that might have slipped your notice.

Host Keith Shortall was joined by:

Bill Lundgren, with Longfellow Books

Bill's list of Best and overlooked of 2012:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Opium Fiend by Steven Martin
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
Panorama City by Antoine Wilson
NW by Zadie Smith

local authors:
When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood
Pretty Girl by Debra Sparks
Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Standard Baking Pastries by Alison Pray and Tara Smith
Portland Maine Chef's Table by Margaret Hathaway
Annie and the Prince of Wales by Duane Pierson

kids books:
Son by Lois Lowery
Wrinkle in Time (graphic novel) by Madeliene L'Engel
The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay by Scott Nash

Debra Spark, author, professor at Colby College

My favorite overlooked book this year: David Bezmozgis's The Free World, and the paperback was published this year. It's about a family of Russian Jews in Italy while they wait deportation to a country (Israel, Canada, or the US) that will have them. It's a wonderful book: funny, informative, and entertaining.
Another overlooked book: Ron Tanner's From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story. It's a memoir about a man who buys a Baltimore Victorian that has been destroyed by frat house boys, and he restores it, even though he has just a modest professor's salary to do so.
Some books I loved this year (though they got plenty of attention):
Rick Russo's Elsewhere
Monica Wood's When We Were Kennedys
D.T. Max's Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story (which is a biography of David Foster Wallace, which I knew about in part b/c I was interviewed for it)
Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman (hilarious)
Bill Roorbach's Life Among Giants (which got a lot of attention, but I also know about, because he is a friend and I read the book multiple times in draft).
(Oh, and I had a book out this year, so hardly in a position to name it as an overlooked book. The book is called The Pretty Girl, and it is a novella and stories, all of which circle around the theme of art and deception).

Josh Christie, bookseller at Sherman's Books and Stationery, and a staff writer for the comic and graphic novel website iFanboy.com. He's also the co-host of the Bookrageous podcast, a regular podcast about books and reading

Josh's best & overlooked books of 2012 list:
Tiny Beautiful Things , Cheryl Strayed
The Lifespan of a Fact, John D’Agata and Jim Fingal
Saga by Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
The Rime of the Modern Mariner , Nick Hayes
Mortality , Christopher Hitchens
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Several Short Sentences About Writing , Verlyn Klinkenborg
Telegraph Avenue , Michael Chabon
My Ideal Bookshelf , Thessaly La Force, Jane Mount
My Bookstore , Ronald Rice
This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
Magic Hours, Tom Bissell

  Lacy Simons, owner and operator of hello hello books in Rockland, a shop that focuses on new books, used books and unusual merchandise.

My best book of 2012 that's on a million other best-of lists: Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl
Best and overlooked of 2012:
Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things
Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack and Honey: Collected Lectures
Alexis Smith's Glaciers
Customers have gone crazy for: Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist

And Jonathan (Maine Calling producer) recommends:
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story
If I Built a House, Chris Van Dusen
Wrinkle in Time (graphic novel) by Madeliene L'Engel, illustrated by Hope Larson

Keith grew up in Thomaston, Maine, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1982, majoring in philosophy. He began his career in commercial broadcasting in Portland, before moving to Maine Public in 1989. Keith has taken on a number of roles at Maine Public and is the primary editor of Maine news and feature stories aired on Maine Public Radio, and TV news specials including election debates and the annual live State of the State address. Keith is the host and producer of the weekly political roundtable Across the Aisle and on occasion takes the host chair for the daily call-in news program Maine Calling.