Books of 2012

Here’s our round-up of 4th Estate’s biggest books of 2012. These are the books that made 2012 better, funnier, more entertaining and, in the case of Bad Pharma, angrier. We’re sure you’ll have your favourites and we’d love to hear them too.

The book that needs no introduction, 2012 was truly Hilary Mantel’s year. Bring Up the Bodies is a darker and more violent installment of the Cromwell trilogy; the Spectator described it perfectly as ‘an imaginative achievement to exhaust superlatives’. With this book, Hilary Mantel became the first British author and the first woman to be awarded two Man Booker Prizes, as well as being the first to win with two consecutive novels. But stop reading about Bring Up the Bodies, and just have a read for yourself. There’s no better way to start the year.

Buy the boxed set.

Oh, Nigel. From one of our best-loved food writers, Kitchen Diaries II is a beautiful and inspiring companion volume to the bestselling Kitchen Diaries. As New Year’s resolutions go, deciding to spend a year in the kitchen with Nigel is probably one of the nicest, and probably the most delicious.

Think of The Yips as the literary equivalent of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony: entertaining, maximalist, full of English eccentricity and totally baffling. There was no other book like The Yips in 2012, and its place on the Man Booker long list confirmed Nicola Barker as one of the most exciting writers in England. The Yips is the most flamboyant piece of comic fiction ever to be set in Luton.

We were bowled over by US debut The Art of Fielding which was shortlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award. This campus novel concerned the most important and very best things in life: love, friendship and Moby Dick. Don’t worry, we don’t know what a shortstop is either.

2012 proved that the mess of the financial crisis is far from over, and that we’ll be feeling its effects for many years to come. In The Hour Between Dog and Wolf neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates explains how we think with our bodies as well as our brains and what affects this had on the decisions made by the fervorous bankers. One of the best explanations of the human behaviour that caused the crash, this is essential reading on issues that affect us all.

Even before Communion Town was long listed for the Man Booker Prize, Sam Thompson’s debut novel was attracting sparkling praise. The Telegraph wrote, ‘here is a new writer working out what he can do, and realising that he can do anything.’ Communion Town is the story of a city, filled with the stories of the commonplace and the strange, of love and crime, of ghosts and monsters.

Another big campus novel, The Marriage Plot mixes French theory with the subtle and sensitive workings of the human heart. Yes, a recipe for disaster. For anyone who still wonders about their university days and their choice of books and love-interests, or for anyone about to embark on the university experience, The Marriage Plot is for you.

All of the below is perfectly legal:

Drug companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design.

When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried.

Patients are harmed in huge numbers.

2012 was the year of waking up to the life-endangering behaviour of drug companies; Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma needs to be read by everyone.

In 2012 Michael Chabon, author of the much-loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, returned with Telegraph Avenue, an intimate epic set to the laid-back beat of classic soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all of its own. For all the fan boys who still wax lyrical about High Fidelity, this one goes out to you.

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