Books of the Year 2012

So many books, so many books. I consciously tried to expand my reading horizons this year, which has helped to swell my reading list to unmanageable lengths.  Sifting out worthy entries in disciplines with which I’m not especially familiar is not at all easy, so sometimes I just have to go on faith that apparent hard work, diligence, and care have resulted in an enlightening end product.

Krasznahorkai’s Satantango is certainly for me the book of the year, though in its way Lucan’s Civil War was as well, and I was very happy to have William Bronk‘s later poetry collected.

I have hardly read all of all of the nonfiction selections–I’ll be lucky if I ever read the Bailyn book cover to cover–but they have all been of note to me at least as reference or inspiration. Some stragglers from 2011 have snuck in as well.

If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Reviews on a couple are forthcoming.

(As always, I do not make any money from these links–this was just by far the simplest way to get thumbnails and metadata.)


László Krasznahorkai
New Directions

Galley Slave (Slovenian Literature)
Drago Jancar
Dalkey Archive Press

Bursts of Light: The Collected Later Poems
William Bronk
Talisman House, Publishers

Wild Dialectics
Lisa Samuels
Shearsman Books

David Albahari, Alexandra Rasic Radosavljevic
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Marginalia on Casanova: St. Orpheus Breviary I
Mikl S. Szentkuthy
Contra Mundum Press

Every Short Story by Alasdair Gray 1951-2012
Alasdair Gray
Canongate Books

The Snail’s Song
Alta Ifland
Spuyten Duyvil

Happy Moscow (New York Review Books Classics)
Andrey Platonov
NYRB Classics

Civil War (Penguin Classics)
Penguin Classics

Petersburg (Penguin Classics)
Andrei Bely
Penguin Classics

Tyrant Banderas (New York Review Books Classics)
Ramon del Valle-Inclan
NYRB Classics

The Holocaust as Culture
Imre Kertész
Seagull Books

Mathematics: (French Literature)
Jacques Roubaud
Dalkey Archive Press

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets
Oksana Zabuzhko



Black Paths
David B.



Michael Levenson
Yale University Press

Essays in Ancient and Modern Historiography
Arnaldo Momigliano
University Of Chicago Press

Acolytes of Nature: Defining Natural Science in Germany, 1770-1850
Denise Phillips
University Of Chicago Press

Memory: Fragments of a Modern History
Alison Winter
University Of Chicago Press

The Lucretian Renaissance: Philology and the Afterlife of Tradition
Gerard Passannante
University Of Chicago Press

Literary Names: Personal Names in English Literature
Alastair Fowler
Oxford University Press

German Philosophy of Language: From Schlegel to Hegel and beyond
Michael N. Forster
Oxford University Press

Fictions of the Cosmos: Science and Literature in the Seventeenth Century
Frédérique Aït-Touati
University Of Chicago Press

Reality: A Very Short Introduction
Jan Westerhoff
Oxford University Press

American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
University Of Chicago Press

Augustus: Introduction to the Life of an Emperor
Karl Galinsky
Cambridge University Press

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux