My Favorite Books of 2012 and Other Bookish Gift Ideas

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.  -Thomas Helm

I remember way back to the first week of 2012 and being so absorbed in a great book that I read it in two days. In my opinion, there is nothing greater than being lost in a great book.

Since this time of year is a wonderful time to buy books for friends and family, I’m continuing my tradition of writing about my favorite books (2010 and 2011 here) for the year. From my shelf of favorite books over at Goodreads (link here), I have five favorites from 2012, and a few other recommendations — one for every type of reader.

Great Books on my shelf
Great Books on my shelf

My Favorite Books of 2012:

1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh:

This is the book I read first in 2012 and it became my favorite for the year. It is about an 18-year-old girl who ages out of the US foster care system, broken and struggling to make it on her own. As she finds her place, she communicates best in the old Victorian language of flowers, giving flowers to communicate what she feels. This is such a powerful book written by a woman with an enormous heart. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Book club fiction / Women’s fiction.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

This book is technically for young adults, but the storytelling, characters, and message are so engaging, it becomes a book every adult also can’t put down. It’s about a few teenagers struggling through life, love, and relationships as they struggle with cancer. So very powerful, it is a must-read for all. Young adult.

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

Do you remember the crazy woman in Misery, the movie and psychological thriller book from Stephen King? Gone Girl is of that species of novels that spooks you and keeps you reading just to keep the crazy woman at bay. The story asks enough questions and twists the plot so many times that this is a notable book for those who love a stinging thrill. Thriller / Mystery.

4. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton:

Ms. Morton’s books all are such great books to read. If you or someone you’d gift it to loves dual time frame stories that unfold with surprising twists, set in war-torn England, you will not be able to turn pages quickly enough. Book club / Women’s Fiction.

5. Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio:

I read this book in 2 days–the story makes for enjoyable and light reading and features an intriguing mystery set in two time periods. Women’s Fiction.

And, since my sons and husband also are avid readers, I’ve asked them their favorite books of the year, listed here by age:

a. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, MG & YA (middle grade & young adult), recommended by my oldest son (13)

b. Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver, MG & YA, recommended by my middle son (11)

c. Storm Dogs of the Drowned City by Dayna Lorentz, age 8+, recommended by my youngest son (10)

d. The Racketeer by John Grisham, recommended by my husband — “like old-style Grisham”

And for other ages and types of books for gifts, I love:

e. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, age 8+ for girls — a classic and wonderful gift, especially as a set

f. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, age 5+ — my favorite picture book, because of the gorgeous illustrations and the timeless story. A great gift for all.

g. Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein, age 5+ — a delightfully funny collection of poems to read again and again and again. A perfect gift for even adults who love to laugh.

h. The Bear books by Karma Wilson, age 6 months + — adorable illustrations, rhyming stories, and funny, beloved characters, these are the favorite picture books in our house.

And, if you can, support your local independent bookstores when you buy books — it’s a wonderful way to support booksellers in your own community.

  • This month, at Great New Books, the team is working to launch our new website on January 1, 2013. Our motto is “Sharing our favorite books one week at a time.” We hope you’ll join us over at for the best high-quality book recommendations in a fun and positive format!

For you: What are your favorite books you’ve read this year? I’d love to hear about your favorites!


Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

10 thoughts on “My Favorite Books of 2012 and Other Bookish Gift Ideas

  1. The Fault in Our Stars is most certainly up there for me … I need to think about my others from this year!! And by the way, Miss Rumphius is one of my very favorite picture books … I love, love, love it. xox

    1. Miss Rumphius has the most lasting message, I think. I love it from the lupine cover all the way to the last word. And The Fault in Our Stars– who can even name how many ways that novel touches our hearts? Thanks, Lindsey!

    2. My daughters and I love Miss Rumphius too — such a great story.

      Jennifer — what a helfpul list. I’m adding several of these to my goodreads to-be-read shelf.

      1. I’m so glad you find the list helpful, Lisa! We’re really excited about talking great books starting in January, one favorite each week, over at We hope you’ll join in! Thank you!

  2. This is a great list. Can you believe I haven’t read Language of Flowers yet? It’s sitting on my nightstand of course. I can’t keep up!!!

    1. Since you wrote this comment (and since I’m so behind on answering 😉 ), I saw that you’re reading The Language of Flowers. I’m so excited to talk about The Language of Flowers next month at!

    1. My copy of The Fault in Our Stars is very ear-tagged with quotes. I especially loved the humor in spite of the seriousness of their health concerns. It’s brilliant. Glad you enjoyed it, too. Thank you, Jocelyn!

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