It’s that time of year again…

What were the best books you read this year?

This is the season for end-of-the-year book lists, where book reviewers highlight the “best” books of the year. These lists are usually dominated by literary fiction and serious nonfiction, but they can also venture beyond that to include popular titles, Young Adult books and graphic novels. Sometimes snarky rebuttals to these best-of lists follow, such as Slate Magazine’s Overlooked Books of 2012.

I use these lists as a good reminder of some of the books I’ve meant to read over the last 12 months but haven’t found the time. I’m hoping to tackle a couple over the last couple of weeks of the year.  

What are your favorite books of 2012?

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in December

The Intercept, Me Before You, A Possible Life, Pow!, and Safe House top our list of December must-reads.

  • December’s most high-profile debut novel comes from Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of TV’s Law and Order series. The Intercept sounds like a nail-biter. So far this thriller about a NYPD Intelligence officer trying to thwart a terrorist plot is receiving enthusiastic praise from reviewers and will probably continue to get lots of media attention.
  • Me Before You is the second novel from British author Jojo Moyes, in which a young caretaker attempts to quash the suicidal plans of her quadriplegic patient, a former playboy, adventurer and business tycoon. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling.”
  • Sebastian Faulks, bestselling author of Birdsong and Charlotte Gray

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2012 National Book Award Winners

Louise Erdrich, Katherine Boo, David Ferry, and William Alexander are this year's National Book Award winners.

Congratulations to the 2012 winners of the National Book Awards, announced last night.

Fiction: Louise Erdrich, The Round House

Nonfiction: Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Poetry: David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations

Young People's Literature: William Alexander, Goblin Secrets

Read more about the awards here and 

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Ten Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November

What's on your November to-read list? Here's ten new suggestions to add to it.

Place your holds now on these upcoming hits:

  • Oakland readers are lining up for bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel, Flight Behavior. Following her 2009 Orange Prize-winning novel The Lacuna, Kingsolver “performs literary magic, generously illuminating both sides of the culture wars, from the global-warming debate to public education in America” (Library Journal). Read or listen to a preview of Flight Behavior here.
  • The holds list is also mounting for Ian McEwan’s latest, Sweet Tooth. The author of acclaimed novels such as Atonement (2002) has received numerous awards, including the six nominations for the Booker Prize, which he won in 1998 for AmsterdamSweet Tooth has been described as “multilayered and labyrinthine” and “masterful” by

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Book Awards Season Mysteriously Continues

Looking for a good mystery to read? Check out these award-nominated titles.

Earlier in October, approximately 1500 authors and fans gathered in Cleveland, Ohio for the 2012 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. This year’s event featured appearances by a number of mysterious luminaries such as John Connolly, Elizabeth George, Robin Cook and Mary Higgins Clark. A number of annual prizes are awarded at Bouchercon, including the Anthony, Macavity, Barry, Shamus and Dilys Awards. Here is a roundup of all of the winners. Congratulations to all!

The Anthony Awards are literary awards for crime and mystery fiction. The winners are selected by Bouchercon attendees. They are named for the author, editor and critic Anthony Boucher, who is also the namesake for the convention. Fun fact: Anthony Boucher was born in Oakland!

  • Best Novel
    A Trick of the Light 
    by Louise Penny 
    Investigating a murder at a solo artist's Quebec village home, Chief Inspector Gamache and

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Double Booker

Congratulations to author Hilary Mantel, winner of this year's Booker Prize!

Hilary Mantel has won the 2012 Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to her 2009 Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall.  She is only the third author in the history of the prize to win twice—and she has the distinct honor of being the first to win for both a novel and its sequel!

Read the announcement here.

Wolf Hall
Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter's efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome and many of his people, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

Bring Up the Bodies

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Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Mo Yan

Congratulations to Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature.

Mo Yan of China has won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is internationally known as a prolific and revered portraitist of Chinese rural life. The Swedish Academy says of his work: “Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.”

Currently the Oakland libraries own most of his books that have been translated into English, in addition to works in the original Chinese. Early birds have already started placing holds on his books.

Read more at the Nobel Prize website, the New York Times, or listen to this 

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National Book Award Finalists Announced

How many of this year's National Book Award finalists have you read?

Congratulations to the finalists for the National Book Awards!

The National Book Awards are given annually to writers of U.S. citizenship in order “to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America”. Panels of distinguished writers (including past National Book Award recipients) are convened to select the best books in four categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people’s literature. The final awards will be announced on November 14.

You may recognize some of these authors—in addition to being well regarded, many of them are already popular with Oakland readers. Catalog links and short summaries have been provided below for books that are already available through the library. Books that are not yet owned by the library will be ordered this month and will appear in the catalog in early November.

And the finalists are:

Fiction

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Coming in October: Five Hit Novels & Story Collections and Five More to Look Out For

Place your holds now for October's most anticipated new releases.

Place your holds now on these upcoming hits:

  • Set in a North Dakota Ojibwe community, Louise Erdrich’s The Round House is the second installment in a planned trilogy that started with 2008’s Pulitzer finalist The Plague of Doves.
  • Best-selling mystery author Donna Leon takes a break from her Commissiario Guido Brunetti series, but still features the Venetian setting she’s famous for in her newest, The Jewels of Paradise.
  • Dennis Lehane’s newest thriller Live by Night is being described as “an utterly magnetic novel on every level, a reimagining of the great themes of popular fiction--crime, family, passion, betrayal--set against an exquisitely rendered historical backdrop” (Booklist).
  • New story collections from beloved award-winning authors: Sherman Alexie’s newest is Blasphemy; Emma Donoghue’s Astray follows

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2012 Booker Shortlist Announced

This year's winner of the prestigious literary award the Man Booker Prize will be announced soon. Check out the finalists and recent winners available at OPL.

Last week, the six finalists for the Man Booker Prize were announced. If you’re not familiar with the Booker, it is the United Kingdom’s most prominent literary award. It has been awarded annually since 1969 to a novel written in English by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Winners of the Booker Prize tend to enjoy critical and popular success in the United States as well.

This year’s shortlist includes Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, the sequel to 2009 Booker winner Wolf Hall. Mantel’s latest has already been a bestseller in the U.S. and a hit at Oakland Public Library. Other finalists include The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, The Lighthouse by Alison Moore, and 

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