best reads in 2012, because I couldn’t pick just one

I posted already about the best books I *didn’t* read in 2012, and here are some of the ones I did. I’m working on my 2012 “best of” round up and I’ve decided that I don’t want to pick between my two favorite books. They’re both my favorite, in no preferential order, of course.

Cafe du Jour, by Lilian Darcy

Blurb from Amazon:

Love, loss and latt…

“If today is a cup of coffee it has to be a big, piping hot caf au lait, served in a bowl the way they often do in France. I drink it with my hands curved around the bowl for warmth… and for safety…”

Susie used to have the perfect sister, the perfect boss, the perfect restaurant kitchen to cook in and a man who only needed a tweak or two. Now, everything is changing and all she can do is take it one sip at a time.

I was surprised at the mixed reviews for this Goodreads, so I’ll direct you to the Amazon reviews instead, which I feel are a lot closer to the truth! Yes, the writing has its quirks, but for me, the storytelling blew me away. This is definitely not an upbeat and light beach read, and I don’t think it’s meant to be either. This book is a brilliant work of contemporary fiction. It is stark, often witty, intense, sometimes heartbreaking, but overwhelmingly so very true, with some lovely passages about family, love, and life.

The characters are honest, and hilariously awful at times. I mean, come on, has no one else ever been in a relationship that you slowly realized was really bad before? lol! I have, and I think that’s what I loved most about this. I related to Susie so much, and not just because she had an awful boyfriend (it’s not just that he’s hilariously awful, but that I could also understand why she was dating him for so long too), but her vulnerability, hoping for her sister and yet grieving for what they’d lost, hoping for her relationship and yet slowly realizing the truth of it. Hope versus stark reality, and the eventual lines that need to be drawn, even though nobody ever wants to draw them. In this first-person journal-like narrative, Susie doesn’t know who to take sides with or believe, and neither will the reader until the end.

This book is for fans of emotional and truthful contemporary or literary fiction. Bonus if you love cooking, coffee, and (even though we know it’s not nice) poking fun at new-agey people*. 😉

* I am kind of a new-agey person myself, sometimes, and I found the scenes hilarious!



One Day, by David Nicholls

Blurb from Goodreads (which is totally not a very selling blurb, but anyway…):

Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows? Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY.

I never posted my review for this one at the time — I think I wasn’t quite sure how to process it. Yes, it was one of those kind of books.

This book SLAYED me.

Now having passed some time — a lot of time — I’m still not sure I’ve figured it out. I would love to read it again, actually. It’s brilliant and devastating. There’s so much truth, quiet humor, wit, and charm. I haven’t come across a story that affected me so much in a REALLY long time! An epic, beautifully told, and convincing story about two people growing up together, who can’t live with or without each other. It made me cry for days.

“We grew up together.” It seems like such a simple line, but I’m telling you – my heart stopped, people!

I’m still not sure I loved it or if I hated it, or if it made me hate the universe and the way things happen. If that doesn’t make for great literature, then I don’t know what does.

But I loved this most for the characters — ultra-realistic even to the point of being unlikable sometimes — and for those tiny perfect moments that built up their lives. I even saw the movie afterwards. (Let me save you the trouble, don’t bother. It can’t possibly live up to this book.) I’ve deduced that it’s not the plot that makes a story like this — the plot itself is really nothing more than a couple of people living their lives — but those tiny perfect moments. They allow you to live with them and grow up alongside them.

So don’t bother seeing the movie; it falls SO far short! Read the book. It’s one of the most beautiful, moving, and convincing love stories I’ve read in a very long time.

Super Honorable Mentions (in the order I read them this year):

Surfacing by Shana Norris
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
The Last Single Girl by Caitie Quinn