I'm not going to write that these are my favorite books because I think that word is overused (and yet I use it in conversations far too often. It's purely done out of laziness.)
These are books that I recommend completely and none of them were published in 2012. I don't like buying hardback books and I like to let new books simmer for a little while before I read them. It may be because I don't like to pay full cost for them or maybe I don't want to be too influenced by what I'm hearing at the moment.
A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin - it's currently being filmed in NYC but that wasn't why I picked up the book. I first heard about it on Studio 360 when Kurt Andersen mentioned it is one of his favorites. I love this book because it romanticizes New York City at the beginning of the 20th century and it's a beautiful read. I don't like re-reading books as there are too many that still need to be read but I imagine I can do that easily with this book in a few years time. I'm excited to see the book on film but there is no way it can be done correctly.
The Good War by Studs Terkel - it's an oral history of people from all walks of life who participated in some way or other in World War II. I can still hear the voices of those men who fought in the Pacific and the struggle of the African American fighters to be treated as humans. It's history but it's not written by just one man 40 years after the fact and it doesn't fictionalize what really happened.
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford - a fun novel about the aristocracy in the early 20th century but it's kind of about Nancy Mitford and her sisters.
Les Miserable by Victor Hugo - maybe I just want to admit that I read the complete novel and I loved it far more than the musical. I admit I heard songs from the musical while reading certain passages but the book is so much more than the musical. There is a reason this is a classic.
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell - I read this because Brigham told me about it. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. Joseph Mitchell was a writer for the New Yorker who wrote about New York in the early 20th century and this book is a collection of his articles for the magazine. I love New York and love reading about the history of the city that can never be boring.