The Year Ahead in Books

One year closes, another opens, and the reading list expands. Today, in the conclusion of the Great Books Lists, I'm looking ahead.

8 Books I Am Eager to Read in 2012

Or: Of the zillion books to read, these are at the top of my list.

These books are not necessarily newly published, but new discoveries to me. 


Steal Like an Artist
by Austin Kleon

Best known for his Newspaper Blackout Poems — poetry made by redacting words from newspaper articles with a permanent marker — artist/writer Austin Kleon is back with a book of ideas and illustrations to guide a creative life.

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
by Helen Thorpe

A book that explores "how achingly complex the whole question of who we punish for entering the country illegally really is," wrote O magazine. "Yadira, Marisela, Clara, and Elissa, are the offspring of Mexican parents living in Colorado at or below the poverty line. All four finish high school with distinction and go on to college. But there's a profound dividing line: Clara and Elissa have papers; Yadira and Marisela are illegal. As the years go by, the consequences of being undocumented multiply: no getting on a plane ever, no driver's license, no financial aid, no good way to convert that degree into a profession. Without a nation, practically speaking, to return to, these are the limbo children." 


Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It
by Maile Meloy

The New York Times listed this short story collection in its Ten Best Books of 2009. "Meloy’s concise yet fine-grained narratives, whether set in Montana, an East Coast boarding school or a 1970s nuclear power plant, shout out with quiet restraint and calm precision." 


Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Stories
by Elissa Schappell

"The eight stories here concern women operating under a post-1960s, post-Friedan, “you can have it all” ethos passed from mother to daughter to sister," explains the New York Times Book Review. "Schappell’s book crackles with the blunt, cynical humor wielded by people chronically on the defensive. Her women are caustic and witty, even in the face of sorrow." 

All the Dancing Birds
by Auburn McCanta

This fictionalized account of a woman living with Alzheimer's, is not yet published — and it needs to be! Auburn McCanta's first full-length novel has earned accolades and awards from the National Writers Association and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association but does not yet have a publisher. I have fingers crossed that 2012 is the year this moving, important book sees print.


by Naomi Shihab Nye

I may never catch up in reading the work of my favorite poet. There's just so much. Fuel, published in 1998, is one of Nye's most acclaimed volumes and is just one of  21 poetry books. She's also written essays, a young adult novel, chapbooks, and songs. 


The Book of Lamenting
by Lory Bedikian

Combine a great title, with a great poetry press, and you've got an addition to my reading list. I'm eager to read work that poet Yusef Komunyakaa says, "brims with darkness and light . . . the emotional landscape here is rounded and shaped through an imaginative exactness and sobriety."

Facts About the Moon
(also: The Book of Men)
by Dorianne Laux

I'm a bit late to the party, so I'll start with Laux's latest work — her fourth and fifth volumes of poetry. "Laux writes gritty, tough, lyrical poems that depict the actual nature of life in the West today," says Philip Levine, U.S. Poet Laureate.


What's on your list? There's always room for more. 

Want to share more favorites? Let's talk books. Join me on Goodreads.