The Books That Made the Most ‘Best Of 2012’ Book Lists


December means a lot of things. Our normally latent shopping gene starts itching like crazy, mint-flavored coffee starts sounding like a good idea, and every single media outlet (ourselves included) puts up their “best of” everything lists. Well, ’tis the season. In an effort to distill all those year’s end book round-ups — and let’s face it, be a little meta — we looked at 16 lists from 14 media organizations and counted up the books that tickled the most critics this year. Turns out, they had quite a few differing opinions — on those 16 lists alone, we noted more than 150 unique titles — but also agreed across the board on a few knock-outs. After the jump, feast your eyes on the most popular books of the 2012 best book list season — and let us know if you agree with consensus or think the world’s gone mad in the comments.

Two Mentions

At Last , Edward St. Aubyn The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 , Bernard Bailyn Every Love Story is a Ghost Story , D.T. Max The Lifespan of a Fact , John D’Agata and Jim Fingal The Casual Vacancy , J.K. Rowling The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo , Tom Reiss Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? , Jeanette Winterson House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East , Anthony Shadid Tell The Wolves I’m Home , Carol Rifka Brunt The Dog Stars , Peter Heller Shine Shine Shine , Lydia Netzer The Twelve , Justin Cronin A Hologram for the King , Dave Eggers Joseph Anton: A Memoir , Salman Rushdie May We Be Forgiven , A.M. Homes Carry the One , Carol Anshaw My Heart is an Idiot , Davy Rothbart Suddenly, A Knock on the Door , Etgar Keret The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy , David Nasaw Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty , Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis , Timothy Egan

Three Mentions

Beautiful Ruins , Jess Walter People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up , Richard Lloyd Parry Dear Life , Alice Munro The Orphan Master’s Son , Adam Johnson Birds of a Lesser Paradise , Megan Mayhew Bergman Where’d You Go, Bernadette? , Maria Semple Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking , Susan Cain

Four Mentions

Arcadia , Lauren Groff Building Stories , Chris Ware NW , Zadie Smith The Fault in Our Stars , John Green Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity , Andrew Solomon The Round House , Louise Erdrich Canada , Richard Ford

Five Mentions

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 , Anne Applebaum This Is How You Lose Her , Junot Díaz The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. Four , Robert A. Caro

Six Mentions

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Seven Mentions

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo Wild, Cheryl Strayed The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers

Nine Mentions

Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

The Best Book Lists We Consulted:

Publisher’s Weekly Slate TIME (Fiction) TIME (Nonfiction) Vogue The Washington Post Book Riot Amazon The Atlantic Esquire The Huffington Post The New York Times The Daily Beast Newsday Christian Science Monitor (Fiction) Christian Science Monitor (Nonfiction)