Best Books Lists for 2012

‘Tis the season for the Best Books Lists to be announced. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.

I love seeing if my favorite books made the lists. Nora Rawlinson, Co-Founder and Editor of Early Word (, an online round-up of book news and information published each Friday has made my life so much easier because she compiles all the lists in an Excel spreadsheet.

It’s no big surprise that the book that has made the most number of lists seven (with the exception of Booklist, coming out in January) is John Green’s YA book The Fault in Our Stars, a wonderfully funny and heart-wrenching tale of two teens with cancer who fall in love. If you haven’t read it (and I suspect most of you have) go read it ASAP!

The other book that made almost as many lists (six) is Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, an exciting tale of two best friends who are spies in France during WWII. It’s one of the books that you read once and then go back and reread it again because the plot is so twistily complex.

One of my favorite picture books, Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat made five lists, as did Lois Lowry’s Son, the final book in her trilogy that began with The Giver and R. J. Palacio’s middle grade book Wonder, a beautiful and heartwarming story of a boy with a facial anomalies who changes the lives of everyone he meets.

A number of books made four lists, including:

  • Rebecca Stead’s middle grade book Liar & Spy, a story about spies, games, and friendship
  • The Diviners, Libba Bray’s irresistible YA book that’s a mixture of historical fiction, mystery, horror and the occult set in NYC in 1926
  • And Then It’s Spring, the picture book written by Julie Fogliano & illustrated by Erin E. Stead is a beautiful story of the anticipation a boy and his dog experience as they wait for a plant to grow
  • Phillip Hoose’s YA NF book Moonbird (also one of the finalists for the 2013 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults) is about the worldwide efforts to understand and save the rufa red knot B95, or Moonbird (because in his lifetime this bird has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back)
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, is an irresistible action-packed historical fiction book for teens about assassin nuns
  • Doreen Rappapart’s NF YA book Beyond Courage tells the inspiring stories of the many Jews who sabotaged the Nazis and saved other Jews during the Holocaust
  • Middle grade book Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is a thrilling Dickensian novel that weaves a tale of sorcery and magic involving innocent children, a masterful magician and an evil witch
  • Maggie Stiefvater’s YA novel The Raven Boys is the first in a series about a teenaged girl from a psychic family who is destined to kill her true love with her first kiss
  • and lastly, Vaudna Micheaux Nelson’s middle grade fictional book No Crystal Stair that documents the life of her great uncle Lewis Michaux, an extraordinary literacy pioneer who built a bookstore in Harlem that became an intellectual center during the Civil Rights era.

There are even more books that made three, two, and one of the lists. To see for yourself, go to Or, to see the individual best books lists, go to Random House’s Tumblr site at

To read Maggie Stiefvater’s recent NPR list of YA novels you’ll never outgrow go to:

Enjoy reading these wonderful books!

About Sharon Rawlins

Sharon Rawlins is the Youth Services Specialist in Lifelong Learning at the New Jersey State Library. She's a children's and teen librarian responsible for providing consulting assistance to the youth services librarians in public and school libraries in NJ.