Best Books of 2012

2012 Book of the Year

From an essay by A. J. Jacobs exclusively for Hudson:

"Am I happy that Hudson Books has chosen Drop Dead Healthy as its Book of the Year? Absolutely, without a doubt. And what’s more, I feel healthier.
Consider this: A University of Toronto study found that actors who win Oscars live almost four years longer than their non-Oscar-winning friends.
Scientists have yet to study the average lifespan of Hudson-Book-of-the-Year authors. But I’m ready to be a guinea pig. Who knows? Maybe four additional years of life is too much to ask for, but I’m hoping the Hudson bump gives me at least a few more weeks on this earth.
I’m especially honored because I’m such a Hudson Books fan. I’ve spent many hours browsing the aisles of this wonderful bookstore. No doubt it’s the best part of the airport experience, right up there with scoring the last available electrical outlet in LaGuardia’s Concourse C."

Read A.J. Jacobs' complete essay here.

Best Fiction

I came to The Dog Stars both curiously and skeptically. Peter Heller has written some very good nonfiction. In fact, The Whale Warriors is one of my favorite books. But a poetic novel about the few remaining survivors of a flu pandemic? In retrospect, there is a sensibility and style that I love which informs all of Heller’s work. And I needn’t have worried about The Dog Stars. The rare imperfections make it human. And that is one of its central questions – it makes us think about what that really means. Also about the myriad connections that create and sustain life on this planet, and what happens when they fall apart. There is a scene in which the main character, Hig, has to calculate and recalculate the weight he’s taking onto his Cessna in preparation for a desperate take-off from a short runway. “Not a regulation take-off.” It is terrifying, and when he clears the trees, exhilarating. The Dog Stars as a whole is more than a little like that take-off. It is risky, adventurous and unfashionably earnest. But, like poetry and the wings of Hig’s plane, it is well-crafted, and it bears the weight, if only just. Unapologetically romantic, in the old sense of the word, The Dog Stars is unbearably sad, acerbically funny, a riveting adventure, and piercingly hopeful. I love it. – Sara, Atlanta, GA
My personal pick for the Best Book of 2012 just so happens to be the sequel to my personal pick for Best Book of the last decade. Justin Cronin ups the ante in the follow up to 2008’s The Passage. Cronin goes back to the time before the fall to better explain the rise of the Virals and the fall of civilization as we know it. The original storyline picks up shortly after where it left off in the previous book, showing us how the times are changing. The characters that readers fell in love with in the first book are given more page time and are fleshed out into living, breathing people who become your best friends. Be forewarned, this book leaves you wanting more! Long after I read the last sentence of Cronin's unbelievably brilliantly woven story, I found myself wishing I was back with these characters following more of their adventures as they battle the Virals for survival. – Josh, Chicago, IL
In this debut novel Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on the isolated island of Janus Rock where he lives with his wife, Isabel. They have been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. A day after Isabel’s stillbirth a boat washes up on shore. Inside it they find a baby crying and a dead man presumed to be the baby's father. After much conflict between Tom and Isabel they decide to claim the baby as their own. This decision becomes a very tangled web when they return to the mainland as others will be impacted by the ramifications of their deceitful act. The characters are brought to life in this heartbreaking and thought provoking book. It will haunt readers long after its end. – Valerie, Cleveland, OH
Iraq war vet and author Kevin Powers has delivered a war novel worthy of the many comparisons it has received to classics like The Things They Carried and All Quiet on the Western Front.
On it's face, the story is intriguing. Told in non-chronological episodes it chronicles the training and deployment, and war's aftermath of two young soldiers who become quick friends. Beyond the plot lines, though, Powers has created a powerful story that reflects on things much larger than the experience of just one or two soldiers. That all being said, I would recommend reading this book based on the sheer quality of the writing even if what I've already said doesn't grab your attention. Striking images abound. Powers has an undeniably poetic touch. – Kevin, Denver, CO
Alif the Unseen introduces the reader to a fantastical world as the Arab Spring unfolds. Combining cyber hackers, jinn, and a popular revolt, G. Willow Wilson has created a thriller that works on all levels. Alif also serves as a gateway to the Muslim faith, easily accessible to readers of the East or West. The character Alif serves as the everyman as he is transported across the spectrum of the Arab culture. Wilson’s Alif the Unseen is readily compared to the early works of Neil Stephenson and William Gibson. – Ed, Atlanta, GA
From page one, Evison’s emotions are unmistakable. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, the newest novel by Jonathan Evison, shows us another layer of this talented author. His debut novel, All About Lulu, was a poignant coming of age story, his next book West of Here, was an epic saga, and now we learn about the courage it takes to take the next step. Ben has lost his children, wife and livelihood, and at rock bottom, takes a class to become a caregiver. His first assignment is Trevor, a nineteen year-old, with advanced Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The lack of control they both have over their lives bonds them and leads them on a life altering journey. – Sandra, Seattle, WA

Best Non-Fiction

Reader Alert: If you truly are a book lover, you will be unable to put this book down! The author, who has worked in publishing as an editor-in-chief, and as a journalist, tells a very personal story of his recent time with his mother in what he calls a 2-person Book Club. As he takes his mother to chemotherapy treatments, they develop a tradition of reading the same book so they have that in common to talk about during long hours in the hospital waiting room. What this book brings to the reader is a story of a very unusual family; a mother whose life has been extraordinary, a powerful love between mother and son, and a testament to what the power of books and reading can be in our lives. Prepare to immerse yourself in a smorgasbord of books! - Margaret, Pittsburgh, PA
On some level each of us wants to 'fit in'. Some of us achieve that goal, some of us don't and then there is Jenny Lawson. Her "mostly true memoir" is one of the few books I have read that has made me laugh out loud and the ONLY book that made me call various friends around the country to read chapters to them over the phone. My long suffering husband actually asked me to refrain from reading it in bed because, not only was I laughing so hard I was disturbing his beauty sleep, I kept reading passages out loud to him further interrupting said beauty sleep (the chapter entitled "A Series Of Helpful Post-it Notes I Left Around The House for My Husband This Week" was a big hit in that regard). By the end of the book you will not only have laughed yourself into an acute tizzy but you will also feel like you have found the friend that all of us a truly looking for, the friend that can appreciate and point out the absurdities in life but the friend that makes you feel like you truly do fit in. – Shannon, Chicago, IL
Joseph Anton, including his personal story of selling The Satanic Verses in 1989. Here’s an abbreviated version:
It was with a certain sense of nostalgia that I came to Rushdie’s new book, Joseph Anton; his account of his years spent living under the shadow of the fatwa. You don’t have to be a Rushdie fan to enjoy this book. Aside from being a straight forward autobiography and compelling account of his dark decade the book serves also as a bracing defense of free speech, and a case study of the recent history of militant Islam and the ever volatile Middle East. And given the fame and life style of the author we find aspects of the ‘tell-all’. The book is rife with celebrity gossip and name dropping. Some people go for this, me not so much but the book possesses so much else of merit that I am willing to overlook this occasional shortcoming. Much has been made of Rushdie’s decision to tell his story in the third person and for good reason. The strategy allows him sufficient authorial distance from the subject while also granting him access to the novelistic tool box. He takes full advantage. The book is fascinating, granting an inside view of the process of being taken into government protection while also providing a sense of historical and biographical scope and establishing context over the whole. – Matt, Los Angeles, CA
Comet's Tale is an extraordinary story that cuts to the heart. Comet was an abandoned race dog that ended up as a withdrawn fosterling until Steven Wolf entered her foster home. Steven had a serious spinal condition making everyday tasks challenging, so adopting a Greyhound seemed an overwhelming endeavor. But Comet had been gifted with superb intuitive abilities that kicked in the moment she set eyes on Steven. Comet knew Steven needed her. That was the day Steven's life changed forever. Their life journey is full of humorous antics, failures and successes as Comet is trained to become Steven's service dog. It speaks so highly of this gentle breed of dog. This emotionally charged book is a MUST READ! - Valerie, Cleveland, OH (owner of a former cancer detecting/hospice volunteer Greyhound)

Best Business Interest

Have you noticed that when someone is described as outgoing, it is usually meant as a compliment? When someone is described as quiet? not so much. Why is that? Why are outgoing, talkative people more likely to be perceived as strong, capable leaders than quiet, soft spoken people? Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain addresses that question in depth.
You don't have to be an introvert to read this book. Of course, there is a lot of helpful information for introverts. But there is insight for everyone into the Extrovert Ideal and its effect on both business and personal success. - Kara, Nashville, TN
Do you think you’re a good leader? How would you know? From the writers of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 comes a great new book, Leadership 2.0. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is look at yourself clearly and objectively. Whether you’re a CEO, small business owner or a group leader everyone needs leadership skills to succeed. Leadership 2.0 breaks down all levels on what makes a great leader and helps you develop those skills. With 22 leadership skills defined and an on-line self-assessment tool you can learn the secrets of great leaders. The book provides access to 360 Refined tm online testing, a program designed to test yourself objectively. This testing helps you identify your weaknesses and provides you with the tools to correct them. The objectivity and individual assessment is the most useful component of the book. Most people will not tell their bosses what they are doing wrong in an organization. The information provided will help you communicate more clearly; learn to seek knowledge over information; mobilize others and learn to embrace flexibility. So if you want to take your business or career to the next level I highly recommend this book. – Rosa, New Jersey
Don't be scared away by the topic (economic policy) or Krugman's credentials (Nobel Prize winner). This is a book written expressly for the non-expert. And it's expertly done. Using as little jargon as possible, and relying on clear, understandable analogies, Krugman takes the reader where few post-2008 recession books have gone: toward remedies for what is ailing the economy. The book is strongest when it's exposing the kinds of red herrings politicians use for political gain (“cut the deficit now!”), but prove ineffective in jump-starting the economy. Krugman focuses on America, but explains world economies as they impact America's. If you haven't read much on the current economic crisis this is great place to start. Those well-read on the topic will find this book a must read for its authorial clout, and focus on how to move beyond the blame game and toward a brighter economic future. – Kevin, Denver, CO

Best Young Readers

This is my choice for best book of the year for many reasons; it’s beautifully written, has amazing dialog and a great cast of characters. But mostly it’s because I love a good love story. This is an epic love story. It follows a terminal cancer patient named Hazel who’s 16 and depressed. She is sent to group therapy where she meets Augustus; a fellow cancer survivor. John Green’s ability to channel teenage girls and teen interaction is exceptional. To make cancer funny is no easy feat; yet he does it easily. Follow Hazel and Gus as they fall in love and live life to its fullest. This is a book that will have you laughing and crying at the same time. A guaranteed ‘must read’. – Rosa, New Jersey
A clever reimagining of an oft-retold fairy tale: a cyborg Cinderella with too small feet? With an android fairy godmother? Cinder lives in the futuristic Eastern Commonwealth, working as a mechanic with her trusty android, Iko, by her side. When the handsome Crown Prince Kai visits her stall, Cinder gets pulled into a conspiracy involving the villainous Lunar Kingdom, the deadly plague that took her stepfather and stepsister, and a missing moon princess. Fresh and imaginative, this is one of the top debuts of 2012, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. – Laura, Pittsburgh, PA
Author I.C. Springman wrote this story for her grandsons but it brings a universal message for all. Don’t hoard stuff because it may be your ruin! A hoarding Magpie is questioned by his mice friends about having too much stuff. His love and collecting of shiny things overwhelms his space and puts him in danger. Can he be saved? Does he learn his lesson? Brian Lies’ beautiful and clever illustrations bring to life this simply worded story. It’s a counting book too that will help all kids learn lessons about overconsumption and looking out for friends. – Ron, Los Angeles, CA

Bookseller Favorites

Anne - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Georgia - Roannoke

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Josh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Justin - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Kara

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Kevin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Laura - Pittsburgh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Margaret - Pittsburgh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Matt - Los Angeles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ron - Los Angeles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sandra

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sara - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Shannon - Chicago

 
 
 
 
 

Susan - Pittsburgh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Valerie - Cleveland