Favorite books of 2012

Like my year in music, my reading was also a little down this year, especially over late summer and fall. I think I did pretty well on fiction this time around, though. I’ll stick to a couple picks for each month:

January
Extra Lives. Why video games are awesome and why they make you feel guilty and ashamed. And more! (reviewed)

Runner-up: The Art of Fielding. A tale of baseball and friendship that’s much, much better than it sounds. (reviewed)

February
Steal Like an Artist. Obviously. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Runner-up: Hark! A Vagrant. I wish this was my high school history textbook.

March
Distrust That Particular Flavor. Twenty years of work from a great mind. I tumbled a bunch of quotes.

Runner-up: Dreamtigers. Only giving this one second place because I’ve read some of the stories before. Borges is still a champ.

April
The Gift of Fear. A fascinating look at the psychology of trust. (reviewed)

Runner-up: Philosophy Bites, for thoughtful variety that, like the podcast of the same name, doesn’t waste your time.

May
Religion for Atheists, for its thoughtful, inquisitive look at something many of us are already decided about. One of my favorites this year. (reviewed)

Runner-up: Macbeth, for being short and sweeping and brilliant. (tumbled)

Second runner-up: Mindless Eating, for its friendly, simple, super-practical approach to habits you might want to change. (reviewed)

June
{sound of crickets}

July
An Economist Gets Lunch, for Tyler Cowen’s typically counter-intuitive, omnivorous openness to experience. I’m a huge fan.

Runner-up: Imaginary Magnitude. A collection of introductions to fictional books covering, among other things, x-ray pornograms, computer-generated literature, and a biography of a sentient, moody super-computer. If you like the Borges above, or Borges in general, or strange science fiction, or strange conceptual writing in general, this is absolutely a book for you.

August, September, October
{embarrassed silence}

November
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. This is tied with The Art of Fielding for the “How did he make that book so page-turnable?” award. A light, bright, fun adventure. Robin Sloan is next-level.

December
A Visit from the Goon Squad. Growing up in a music-heavy world. I like that every chapter has a different voice, perspective, and structure.

Runner-up: The First Four Notes, for its wide-ranging history of philosophy and aesthetics that uses Beethoven’s music as the pivot point.