Ah, for a week with endless hours to relax and read just a few of the beautiful books on those end-of-year “top selling” and “best of” lists. Whether curled up by a cozy fire or digging your toes into some warm tropical sand, there’s nothing better than a great book to help make the season bright. Unless it’s a stack of great books. So, just in time for winter break, we bring you a Friday Five list of lists of books to read—and share.
1. Shake things up. It’s difficult to discuss books in 2012 without talking about the books that … er … dominated the best-seller lists. (All due respect to Ms. James.) But when the Amazon, iBooks and New York Times lists grow monotonous, why not check out independent booksellers’ “best of” lists for more unusual, off-the-beaten path reads? Or, you could invest time in setting up a free Goodreads account. Once you add the books you’ve read and those you wish to read, you’ll get recommendations based on your personal interests. Goodreads Listopia categories offer plenty of surprises, and you’ll uncover a gem or two among the annual Choice Awards winners, too.
2. Just for fa-la-la-la fun. If watching “A Christmas Carol” is your idea of tradition, you’ll love this list of Top 10 Dickens novels. Building Stories by Chris Ware tops Publisher’s Weekly’s Top 10 editor’s picks. Now that looks like fun! For a real bowl full of belly laughs, though, The Oatmeal’s hot-selling How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is a compilation of hilarious cartoons that even dog lovers can appreciate. You say you love legal thrillers? The second annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction went to Michael Connelly’s The Fifth Witness (featuring “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller), with these two named as runners-up: Robert Dugoni’s Murder One and David Ellis’ Breach of Trust. Highly recommended: Craig Johnson’s As the Crow Flies, the eighth installment in the engrossing mystery series featuring Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire. (A&E’s “Longmire” is based on the books.) His ninth, Serpent’s Tooth, is due out in April, which leaves you plenty of time to speed-read those first eight. Start now!
3. Diving deep. It’s been a “jittery” year says NPR’s Maureen Corrigan. No kidding. Her non-escapist list of 10 Books to Help You Recover from a Tense Year focuses on the stories “of ordinary people who felt like they didn’t have a clue what hit ’em.” Behind the Beautiful Forevers and This is How You Lose Her find a place here alongside less feted but no less interesting titles. If a dose of reality and informed insights are what you crave, Bill Gates’ top reads of 2012 includes works on education, finance, world hunger, violence and culture. For creative perspective, My Ideal Bookshelf invites cultural icons—writers, artists, musicians, chefs and designers—to reveal the books that matter most to them, and paintings by Jane Mount accompany their commentary. History buff? Check History Network News’ Best History Books of 2012. (It was a good year for William Seward.)
4. Figuring out the business end of things. Did we mention it was a jittery year? You may be itching to spend “focus time” on the big ideas—or big problems—that have been dogging you. Perspective can be found in Bloomberg Business Week’s Best Books of 2012—According to Business Leaders, as well as The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ 8 Best Small Business Books Published in 2012. (Number one: Positivity at Work, with Erika Napoletano’s Power of the Unpopular at number four.) Is 2013 the year you best social media? Social Media Today has 13 books to kick-start your 2013. For building business tips, be sure to read CMO.com contributor Nick Corcodilos’ list of three books that make you money. You might be surprised.
5. The best book you ever read. In the Atlantic Monthly‘s glorious “Best Book I Read This Year” slide show, staff writer Megan Garber endorses “the ritual of the reread.” Now that’s a really good idea. So while you’re sorting your piles, tidying your bookshelves and making resolutions, consider a reunion with books you have loved—or perhaps a classic or two from that ages-old syllabus. (Rereading Lolita inspired Garber.) Does the prose that inspired the 20-year-old you still resonate?
Here’s to a year full of good reading and great stories to tell—and the promise of uninterrupted naps in between.
Joan Feldman is Partner/Editorial at Attorney at Work. Follow her @JoanHFeldman.
Illustration © ImageZoo.