Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Was Your Favorite Book Published in 2012?


As always there were so many more books that I wanted to read than was able to in 2012, but it was still a pretty good year for reading. Of all the books you read that were published in 2012, which one was your favorite?

Mine was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and I'm guessing I'm not alone.

If it's possible for a book to be a megabestseller while remaining underrated, I think Gone Girl is it. You hear people talk about how gripping it is, how readable, and it certainly is, but it's also ridiculously well-written. This was a cracking mystery bordering on literary fiction levels of psychological and cultural insight and prose quality.

Could there be some lingering gender or genre bias at play in 2012? Would Gone Girl have been received differently if it were written by someone named Jonathan? Are we still predisposed to not considering mysteries as possessing serious literary chops?






40 comments:

Anjali said...

I loved Gone Girl! It was my favorite of 2012 as well.

I just finished Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer. It's a close second for me.

Jaimie said...

I know this one is sort of obvious, but then she's sort of obviously a great writer. Mine is JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.

Jared X said...

I loved "Gone Girl."

But my favorite of 2012 was "Cursing Mommy's Book of Days" by Ian Frazier. This book embarrassed me on the train more than once when I couldn't stop giggling. And, through all the silliness, the book gets modern parenthood and spousedom and even the workplace better than anything else I've read in a long time.

Beth said...

My favorite books were Where She Went and Slammed. I assume at least one of those were published in 2012.

Mirka Breen said...

Aside from my own? (Shameless...)

Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray. That's GRAY, not those other GREY books. Maybe it’s because it is the best book I’m reading at this moment. Technically it’s a 2011 book, but I’m always at least a year or two behind.

L. Shanna said...

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Amazing and beautiful-- I quote it often.

Andrew Leon said...

Demetri and the Banana Flavored Rocketship
By far.

David said...

I loved Gone Girl, Nathan, and up until the second half of the book, I shared your feelings that the novel was right up there with any great work of fiction and that it was only snobbery that kept Flynn from getting the same quality of attention that someone like Franzen gets (though I saw this as more of a genre prejudice than sexism). However, Flynn really dropped the ball toward the end of the novel, where you can feel her becoming a slave to the gimmick she set up, and where (spoiler) Amy's character loses all its nuance as she turns into a stock psycho. Gone Girl is a good example of what the real difference is between genre fiction and (literary) fiction. It's not the prose. The prose is sometimes better in genre novels. Rather, it's that the standards in genre fiction are simply lower overall--the characters aren't as complex, the plot not as plausible, the jokes usually less funny--and Franzen would never allow himself the conventions Flynn relies on.

abc said...

The Fault in Our Stars is my absolute fave, but Gone Girl gets second place. I love Gillian Flynn. I had been recommending her other books to anyone who would listen. I'm glad she's finally gotten some acclaim.

I'm super curious to see how the movie will be done--if they follow through with the movie. She certainly plays with the genre and with the reader's psychology and expectations. A movie I saw recently--a doc called The Impostor--does the same thing. It tells a story, but it also plays with its audience and makes them complicit in the very thing it is criticizing.

Nathan Bransford said...

David-

I think that's an interesting point, though I think it still worked for me because (spoiler) Nick steadily reveals himself to be less than sane and totally unreliable himself, which I think made it more believable that he would have been in a relationship with someone that unhinged. I think there was still quite a bit of nuance in that book even though it came with a potboilerish veneer.

Cindy said...

I loved Gone Girl (and what a great book for book clubs to discuss!)
But I have two others that were my absolute favorites for 2012: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. Both beautifully written, emotionally heartwrenching, with unforgettable characters and interesting ethical dilemmas.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Reading Gone Girl now. I feel spoiled every time I sit to read.

Such stellar writing!
~ Wendy

Camels & Chocolate said...

Gone Girl was my favorite, and A Fault in Our Stars would probably be second.

tigerlily* said...

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was absolutly my favorite, although My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is a close second.

Carrie Rubin said...

My favorite of 2012, too! Wasn't thrilled with the ending, but I forgave it because the rest was so good.

Anonymous said...

Reflections by L L Howell

Alana White said...

I loved Bring up the Bodies, Nathan. Happy New Year to you.

Gdub said...

Bam! Hands down, Life Among Giants, Roorbach. This guy can WRITE!

Amy Pine said...

Gone Girl was great. Tore through it in a day. Fault in Our Stars is fabulous as well, but my absolute favorite of 2012 is Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight, book two in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the game, but I liked Junot Diaz's "This is How You Lose Her" for its last short story.

harryipants said...

The gender bias thing has so been done to death.
Seriously Nathan. If there is a bias it is a bias TOWARDS female writers.
Most READERS don't care. But many writers, which includes journalists, bloggers, and trashy magazine spewers of words onto pagers, seem biased towards females.
In my almost worthless opinion, Gone Girl is being given a pass despite a very weak ending, yet Franzen, who is not my favourite, but someone I mention only because you did, would be lambasted by all if he published a book with such an ending.
Despite that, some perspective... Anyone who can write a book as good as Gone Girl is a wonderful writer, and deserving of immense praise.
My favourite book in 2012 was Fifty.... naaaa, just kidding.
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and Building Stories by Chris Ware.
What a wonderful thing it is to be alive and have so much choice in 2013.

Rosi said...

The Fault in Our Stars, but then I haven't read Gone Girl yet. Maybe I will change my mind when I get to it.

Michelle Levy said...

The Fault in our Stars by John Green followed closely by Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor followed closely by Gone Girl. Really it's pretty much a three-way tie. Ooh, also Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. So, four-way tie, I guess.

Rebecca Taylor said...

I too loved Gone Girl and it's funny you mention ol Jon because I thought of him often while reading this book. Not sure if it was my absolute favorite, but I certainly enjoyed and bought it for many people this Christmas.

Lisa Shafer said...

I really liked Adrienne Kress' Friday Society.

Gail Strickland said...

THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka ... hands down my favorite! It's compellingly human, and who could possibly do a more powerful job writing in first person plural. Incredible!

Gail Strickland said...

THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka is my favorite ... hands down! It is powerfully human, and who else could write an entire book so compellingly in first person plural?

Gail Strickland said...

sorry. It looked like the first one didn't post.

Marjolaine Hébert said...

That I've read and was actually published in 2012: The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes.

charlotteotter said...

My favourite this year was Bring Up the Bodies, but Gone Girl was definitely number two. I am seeing it all over everyone's favourites lists for 2012, so it clearly struck a nerve.

Suzanne Grenager said...

Mine was my favorite, if that's allowed. Not least because I was also the publisher and I got it done. Hooray, Hoorah! It's called Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, if I may please say so. If not, feel free to delete.

Suzanne Grenager said...

Mine was my favorite, if that's allowed. Not least because I was also the publisher and I got it done. Hooray, Hoorah! It's called Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, if I may please say so. If not, feel free to delete.

Shakier Anthem said...

I second Shine Shine Shine and The Buddha in the Attic -- I loved both of them! Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain was stellar, as well.

Melanie Schulz said...

I love the books you reccomend, they're always great. For me it was probably "Raven Boys"

BeccaLathorn said...

"The Raven Boys" By Maggie Steifvater. She never disappoints, me lovies.

BeccaLathorn said...

"The Raven Boys" by Maggie Steifvater. She never disappoints.

Donna said...

I didn't love Gone Girl as much as you did. My hands down favorite was Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

Carole said...

I loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed, but I was captivated by Gone Girl as well. The unreliable narrator was done so beautifully it'll be a tough standard to live up to.

pamala owldreamer said...

Okay I admit I am guilty.My favorite book was and still is Fifty Shades of Grey.I have read all three of them at least six times.I love the characters,the romance and yes the naughty stuff is sexy and not offensive to me! All of that aside,the story is intense,well written and the characters are likeable,flawed,intriguing and irresistible.

Gretchen said...

The Fault in our Stars. Definitely. I have been a life-long John Green fan, but I am happy to see, based on your comments here, that I am not alone in loving this one.

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