As the year draws to a close, editors everywhere are busy putting together their end-of-year / best-of lists. The New York Times jumps into the fray with its straight-forwardly-named list of The 10 Best Books of 2012.
Knowing what was worth reading this year is good. Knowing how to save money on those reads is better! So, here’s the Grey Lady’s list of books, with the addition of the cheapest place to buy them.
The sequel to “Wolf Hall,” this book is about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s relationship which was … cut short. It’s a chronicle of that time as told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister. According to the New York Times, it makes the “worn-out story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn newly fascinating and suspenseful.” It also won the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
“Building Stories” by Chris Ware
Hardcover: Backordered at Amazon for $30 with free shipping, a low by $4
From the writer of the artsy graphic novel “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth,” this graphic novel is packaged in a large box and split into 14 pamphlets, books, and foldouts. It follows the lives of an elderly landlady, a spiteful married couple, and a lonely amputee who all live in the same apartment building.
According to the New York Times, this story is a “parable of America’s international standing and a riff on middle-class decline.” Plot-wise, though, it’s about a struggling businessman in a Saudi Arabian city who is trying to keep his house out of foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and do something important.
Described by the New York Times as “tragi-comic,” this novel follows four Londoners as mature and leave the housing projects they grew up in. Hijinks ensue. (Well, sounds more like bittersweet, emotional encounters ensue.)
“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers
eBook: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon for $9.99
Hardcover: Amazon for $14.16 with free shipping via Prime or Walmart for $14.15 with free Ship-to-Store, a low by $2
This tale follows two young soldiers through a deployment in Iraq. It focuses on the metal stresses of battle and the impact they have. As the New York Times says, this book’s narrative “reflect[s] the chaos of war” with a “fractured narrative [that] jumps around in time and location. Powers anchors it with crystalline prose and a driving mystery: How did the narrator’s friend die?” Um. spoilers, New York Times!
“Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo
eBook: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo for $12.99
Hardcover: Amazon for $15.63 with free shipping via Prime or Walmart for $15.62 with free Ship-to-Store, a low by $2
This National Book Award winner is a study of life in Annawadi, a Mumbai slum. The author spent three years among the residents, collecting profiles of the inhabitants and chronicling their daily life. Boo, according to the New York Times, “depicts [the inhabitants] in all their humanity and ruthless, resourceful glory.”
“Far From The Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity” by Andrew Solomon
eBook: Barnes & Noble or Amazon for $16.99, a low by $3
Hardcover: Amazon for $21.60 with free shipping via Prime, a low by less than a buck
An investigation of how families cope with raising prodigies, dwarfs, schizophrenics, transgendered children, or those conceived by rape. As Booklist says, “Solomon focuses on the creative and often desperate ways in which families manage to tear down prejudices and preconceived fears and reassemble their lives around the life of a child who alters their view of the world.”
“The Passage Of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson” by Robert A. Caro
eBook: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, eBookMall, or Amazon for $14.99
Hardcover: Amazon for $19.85 with free shipping via Prime or Walmart for $19.84 with free Ship-to-Store, a low by less than a buck
The fourth volume in Caro’s series about the life of Lyndon Johnson, this book chronicles the events of 1958 to 1964. It follows Lyndon Johnson through what the New York Times calls his “humiliating years as vice president” and into his ascension into POTUS after JFK’s assassination.
“The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy” by David Nasaw
eBook: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Amazon for $19.99
Hardcover: Amazon for $21.50 with free shipping via Prime or Walmart for $21.49 with free Ship-to-Store, a low by $2
This biography of Joe Kennedy (JFK’s dad) was compiled over six years by Nasaw, who was given unprecedented and total access to all of the subject’s papers and documents held in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Amazon calls it “a story not only of one of the twentieth century’s wealthiest and most powerful Americans, but also of the family he raised and the children who completed the journey he had begun.”
“Why Does The World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story” by Jim Holt
eBook: Amazon for $9.78, a low by $4
Hardcover: Walmart for $16.76 with $1.97 s&h, or backordered at Amazon for $18.45with free shipping via Prime; a low by $3
Why is there something, instead of nothing? The author interviewed philosophers, scientists, and novelists for their take on the answer to this question. The results were, as the New York Times puts it, “sometimes closely reasoned, sometimes almost mystical, often very strange, always entertaining and thought-provoking.”