Favorite Books of 2012

Favorite Books of 2012
One of the benefits of belonging to Good Reads is I have an easy way to look back and see what I read in 2012. Here are a few that stand out as well-worth reading:

  • Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews, Poopa Dweck – I just finished reading this book. The first part is a fascinating history of Syrian Jews, the middle is recipes and the end is Jewish holidays and life cycle events as they are celebrated by Aleppian Jews. I would love to write a full book review – we will see if this happens.
  • The Emigrants , W. G. Sebald – great stories, well-told, including travels in early twentieth century Jerusalem, the Jersey Shore and Banff, Canada.
  • A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell – northern Italians save Jews in World War II.
  • 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, Jane Ziegelman – one of my favorite parts of the book was when the American woman who was supposed to be guiding the new immigrants viewed pickles with disdain and preferred the immigrants eat milk and crackers instead.
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death, Jean-Dominique Bauby – a true story – man writes a memoir while paralyzed and only able to blink his eyes. His tale shows the power of the human spirit in a desperate situation.
  • George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography, Frederick R. Karl – if you love biographies of writers and in particular British women authors, don’t miss this detailed book. I was admirer of George Eliot before I read it, but she really had to work hard to be successful and go up against a less-than approving society in her lifetime.
  • Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman – good urban fantasy as an injured girl gets the protagonist on quite an adventure in London Below, wherever that is.
  • The Art of Fermentation: An in-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World, Sandor Ellix Katz – if you want to learn the details of how and why and what types of foods ferment, this book teaches well. If you just want to learn how to make sauerkraut, read online posts about sauerkraut and follow one of Sandor’s online videos. Fred Breidt of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is quoted in the book as saying, “Risky is not a word I would use to use to describe vegetable fermentation. It is one of the oldest and safest technologies we have.” I could not get fermenting ginger into ginger beer to work – I gave up. Also, his description of fermenting fish made it sound a bit more complicated than vegetable fermentation, so I decided to give up on making my own fermented fish sauce (unless I find a very learned and capable teacher at some point).
  • Emerging Metropolis, Annie Polland, Daniel Soyer – history of New York Jews between 1840-1920. I reviewed the third book in the series, Jews in Gotham.
  • The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer
  • The Brontës, Juliet Barker – of the Bronte siblings, only Charlotte survived to live in her thirties, and then she too died (in childbirth, after one year of a happy marriage). Her father lived to the ripe old age of 84.

If you want more favorite books, see Hannah Katsman’s book list for 2012 or Phyllis Sommer’s list for 2012. Do you have a favorite book you read recently?

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21 thoughts on “Favorite Books of 2012

  • I just started Good Reads and I see that many of my books are nature inspired..it is interesting to look at another person’s book list. My daughter gave my husband a book to keep track of everything he reads which is at least 2 books a week and then he writes them down. I wanted to wish you and your family a very Healthy and Happy New Year..Michelle

  • I like Goodreads for many reasons and keeping track of what I have read certainly is one of them. I have not read any of the books you mention but I guess I’d enjoy most of them.

  • That is a very hard question for me… Hum… The books that come to mind, off the top of my head are Wolf Hall, The Hare With Amber Eyes, Lord of the Rings, All of Jane Eyre’s books to name just a few. This year has been all about writting and not much about reading. I do love to read so that is one of my goals is to read more interesting books in the coming year. I have sighed up to Good Reads but have yet to do anything with it. I really must, din’t you think?

    • I can’t imagine not having a book to read … I discovered long ago that I loved reading more than I loved writing. Writing for me is an excuse to talk about books and to draw pictures to go with the writing.

  • I have read all but four on your list: Aromas of Aleppo, Neverwhere, Emerging Metropolis, and The Art of Fermentation.

    Actually, as odd as it sounds, my last book for 2012 was Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Not my usual reading genre, but the story line grabbed me.

  • Read an abundance of books. For instance by Cicero, Plutarchos, Suetonius, Aristotle mixed with bestsellers such as Robert Ludlum and Georgio Faletti. That way I got a mix of intellectual books and entertainment.

  • My fave’s:

    The Traveler Gift by Andy Andrews (inspirational)

    Mindsight by – Daniel Siegel, MD (the science of personal transformation – a bit technical – almost finished reading it though.)

    And of course my Uncle Bob’s book: From Rage to Redemption (a true story)

  • Hi Leora: A book I am almost finished reading is called “Persuasion” by Arlene Dickinson of the Dragon’s Den. She writes in an easy to read style and shares her tips on how to persuade people. As a self-employed writer and author, I found the tips to be quite useful.

    All the best to you for 2013.

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