Best Books of 2012


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This 2012 Best of the Year feature represents the 14th time we’ve done this in our 16 year history. We’ve done it every year since the first couple. It took us a couple of years to think of it. Back then, best of the year lists were not a matter of course. We helped make them be.

There is nothing scientific in the way we do any of this. Quite simply, January Magazine’s Best of the Year lists represents the books that our writers and editors liked best. End of story. Here’s how it works. We contact all of our writers. Honestly? We don’t have to: they know it’s coming, but we do it anyway so they can be prepared. Most of us have been reading with half a thought for this all year. I know that there have been years where in the month of January I’ve read something so fantastic I started my best of compilation right then and there: writing it up so that over the course of a wonderful year of reading, I wouldn’t forget.

Everyone is told to send reviewlets of the three to five books they liked best over the year. They don’t have to have reviewed it for us, but if they did, that’s okay, too. Such is our group here -- our passionate reading and writing group -- that almost no one ever sticks to only five choices and the maximum word count we allot is overshot about 90 per cent of the time. But it’s hard to rein in passion, isn’t it and -- honestly? -- who would we be to try?

When the smoke clears and the dust settles, we have a group of books that our writers and editors liked better than all of the other ones they read. That’s it: no mystery and no technology; no playing favorites. And, as much as possible, we try to make sure that no one has a horse in this race.

Although in some regards, we all have a horse in this race. Because we love books. All of us. And we all have a vested interest in making sure that the love of them continues from here until eternity. That’s not a comment on digital versus analog. That’s not a crack about battery free books as opposed to the kind you plug in. That’s not a race we need to get into. And why? Because it does not matter to us. The format must always be second to the content. Did the story transport me? Did the author make the characters live and breathe? If so, the delivery method does not matter. Paper or electronic? Those are your details, not mine. Is it a book? Is it a good book? It’s a book. | January 2013

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.