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Top 10 Books for 2012

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Photo - Row of colorful paperback books
Row of colorful paperback books
Entertainment,Associated Press

Fiction

"Broken Harbor"

Tana French. Viking, $27.95 (464p)

A hard-charging Dublin detective confronts recession woes and the slaughter of a struggling family in this potent psychological thriller.

"Here's what I'm trying to tell you: this case should have gone like clock-work. It should have ended up in the textbooks as a shining example of how to get everything right."

"Bring up the Bodies"

Hilary Mantel. Henry Holt & Co., $28 (432p)

Thomas Cromwell outmaneuvers Queen Anne Boleyn in this hypnotizing, Booker Prize-winning sequel to "Wolf Hall."

"He has black hair, greying now, and because of his pale impermeable skin, which seems designed to resist rain as well as sun, people sneer that his father was an Irishman, though really he was a brewer and a blacksmith at Putney, a shearsman too, a man with a finger in every pie, a scrapper and brawler, a drunk and a bully, a man often hauled before the justices for punching someone, for cheating someone. How the son of such a man has achieved his present eminence is a question all Europe asks."

"The Right-Hand Shore"

Christopher Tilghman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (368p)

The beauty and the tragic past of Maryland's Eastern Shore drive this novel, set in the 1920s, about a man who carries the burdens of three generations of a slaving-owning family.

"This place will eat him alive, she is sure of that. She's seen far better men destroyed by the place. Far better."

"Trigger Point"

Matthew Glass. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (416p)

In this chilling geopolitical thriller, humanitarian intervention in Uganda and the sly undermining of U.S. banks bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

"Knowles believed that the world needed leadership now more than ever before. As China and India and Brazil rose to prominence -- each with its different perspective and political culture -- he felt strongly that the world needed someone to set out certain common, ineluctable principles and to be prepared to put those principles into action."

Nonfiction

"Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity"

Katherine Boo. Random House, $27 (288p)

Brilliant and profound, this account of squatters in a Mumbai ghetto wrings the heart even as it details the political realities behind India's economic miracle.

"Superstitious, Zehrunisa had noticed that some of the family's most profitable days occurred after she had showered abuses on her eldest son. January's income being pivotal to the Husains' latest plan of escape from Annawadi, she had decided to the make the curses routine."

"The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson"

Robert A. Caro. Knopf, $35 (736p)

Fantastic profiles of egomaniacs and riveting accounts of political machinations distinguish this account of Lyndon Johnson's years as the vice president and president of our country.

"Lack of money had been the cause of so many of the insecurities of his youth, and his election to Congress, far from soothing those fears, had seemed only to intensify them: he talked incessantly about how his father, who had been an elected official himself -- a six-term member of the Texas House of Representatives -- had ended up as a state bus inspector, and had died penniless: he didn't want to end up like his father, he said."

"Are You My Mother?:A Comic Drama"

Alison Bechdel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (304p)

Self-doubting and allusive, this illustrated memoir traces the intense relationship between an artist and her hard-to-please mother.

"Getting her undivided attention was a rare treat. It felt miraculous, actually -- like persuading a hummingbird to perch on your finger."

"How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character"

Paul Tough. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (256p)

Income and achievement are shown to depend more on self-control and persistence than on raw intelligence in this eye-opening book.

"Why do some children thrive while others lose their way? And what can any of us do to steer an individual child -- or a whole generation of children -- away from failure and toward success?"

Children

"The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau"

Michelle Markel, illus. by Amanda Hall. Eerdmans, $17 (34p)

The true story of a 40-year-old toll collector who transformed himself into a magnificent artist, beautifully illustrated for young readers. Ages 5-9.

"Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. ... But he buys some canvas, paint, and brushes, and starts painting anyway."

"After Eli"

Rebecca Rupp. Candlewick, $15.99 (256p)

A 14-year-old comes to grips with his older brother's death in Iraq in this moving, and occasionally humorous, novel. Ages 9-12.

"There's this tribe in Paraguay that whenever somebody dies, everybody changes their name so that the dead person's ghost can't come back and find them. But I put Eli's name in mine as a way of keeping him around. Not that I would ever tell anybody that now, because it sounds dumb."

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