Librarians pick the best of the rest for 2012

To kick off the New Year, the staff at the Iowa City Public Library thought others would enjoy looking back on our favorite picks. We had a lot of fun putting together this list of ICPL Favorite Books of 2012. All the books mentioned were nominated by more than one staff person.

The No. 1 recommendation was John Green’s young adult book “The Fault in Our Stars.” Librarian Jason Paulios described it as a “heartbreaking young adult love story with quirky characters, whip-smart dialogue, unattainable love interests, a sidekick and a quest to find meaning in this world.”

Librarian Brian Visser added that “Green succeeds by making his characters likable and honest. They talk about their shared pain in a deeper way than most adults. As cliché as it sounds, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry. But, the tears are never cheap, and the laughter is pure.”

There was a tie for the number two book between Gillian Flynn’s fiction book “Gone Girl” and Katherine Boo’s nonfiction book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.”

Flynn’s thriller was a divisive pick. While one staff member raved she “couldn’t put it down,” another described it as a “fluffy weekend thriller novel that can be compared to a Lifetime movie plot.”

“Beautiful Forevers” tells the stories of the people of Annawadi, an outcast neighborhood separated from the gleaming hotels of the Mumbai International Airport by a concrete wall. “The juxtaposition of rich and poor is constant throughout the book and a source of Boo’s most powerful writing,” said Information Technology Coordinator Hal Penick.

Honorable mentions in fiction include “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter, “Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel, “Dog Stars” by Peter Heller, “Redshirts” by John Scalzi (science fiction), “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson and “The Year We Left Home” (2013 All Iowa Reads Book Selection) by Jean Thompson.

In nonfiction, “Mortality” by Christopher Hitchens, “Paris: A Love Story” by Kati Morton and “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain were picked.

The best books for kids included “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses” by Ian Falconer and “Sleep like a Tiger” by Mary Logue.

More detailed lists for specific genres appear on the Library’s Staff Picks Blog. Find your next great read today at

--- Kara Logsdon is responsible for community and access services at the library.

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