The books that most people gravitate toward these days are generally the ones that are publicized the most. Though word of mouth is all well and good when it comes to discussing great reads with a few friends, it’s the media moguls who tend to dictate which books will be promoted to the masses, and which will be tucked into relative obscurity.  The New York Times Best-Seller list is the primary resource for ideas about what to read next, with Oprah’s Book Club coming in at a close second… and though they’re both decent resources when it comes to finding something new to delve into, their recommendations tend to be based on how many people have read a book, rather than the quality of the story itself.

If you’re an avid reader, but want to shy away from the overly-lauded pieces that everyone else on the planet has inhaled, consider some of the titles listed below. They’re some of the best books of 2012, and though they haven’t received quite as much media attention as those on the NYT list, they are most certainly worth looking into. No pun intended, I swear.

Fiction

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- A Novel

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel, by Rachel Joyce

Every so often, we come across an antihero who is so awkwardly endearing that we just want to scoop him out of the book and invite him in for tea. Harold Fry is such a character, and this tale about his impromptu journey across England is both surreal enough to be believable, and genuine enough that the reader can relate to it. Fry is amazingly human, and his adventure takes us on a life-changing journey through the labyrinths of our own hearts.

Non-Fiction

Quiet- The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

If you or a close friend of yours would be described as an introvert, you might have more than a passing interest in this book. Often made fun of for being “too shy” or “too quiet”, introverts tend to pull away from the spotlight and prefer solitude over hyper-socializing, which is anathema to most modern societal expectations. This book is a fascinating study regarding the power and potential of introverts VS the extroverts that seem to be so idealized by American culture. There are tips on how to negotiate introvert/extrovert relationships, and fabulous, encouraging success stories about famous introverts who have changed the world.

Sci Fi/Fantasy

The Pattern Scars, by Caitlin Sweet

The Pattern Scars, by Caitlin Sweet

Winner of the Canadian Bookie award for best Science Fiction, Fantasy or Speculative Fiction, this novel follows the story of a young woman named Nola, who was born into abject poverty, but managed to escape it with the help of those who recognized (and later, manipulated) her gift of prophecy. This isn’t a “unicorns and pixie dust” sort of fantasy book: it draws the reader through seedy interactions with brothel workers, psychopaths, and murderers, and intersperses blood magic and murder with devastating betrayals. The novel is dark and luminous at turns, and you never know if the next page will bring unimaginable heartbreak and terror, or dream-inspiring beauty.

Graphic Novel

Freakangels Box Set by Warren Ellis

Freakangels Box Set by Warren Ellis

The Freakangels web comic by the ever-brilliant (and oft-terrifying) Warren Ellis was published as a box set last month, and if you’re a fan of any of his work, this is a must-read. Written by Ellis and illustrated by Paul Duffield, the story revolves around twelve Londoners with startling psychic abilities: they accidentally flooded the world when they used their powers in unison a few years ago, and are now struggling to survive in the ruins of Whitechapel as something ominous creeps ever-closer…

Cookbook

Food in Jars- Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, by Marisa McLellan

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, by Marisa McLellan

The self-sufficiency revolution is gaining in speed around the world, with people re-acquainting themselves with knowledge and abilities that haven’t been cool since their great-grandparents’ time. Interest in homesteading is at an all-time high, and one of the most popular practices these days is canning one’s own food—preserving everything from fruits and vegetables to soups, seasonings, and even desserts. This book guides you through small-batch canning throughout the year for maximum production with minimum stress.

Children’s Lit

The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver

The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver

Anyone who has a younger sibling has likely wished that they were different, somehow: maybe less annoying, or more fun to hang out with, or even less inclined to break things and blame it on us. If we were to wake up one morning to discover that a Spindler (read: huge, evil spider with hands) has stolen our little brother’s soul for the Queen of the underworld, would we fight to get it back so he’d be normal and whole again? Even if that meant he was going to be his usual, annoying self?

(This book is geared towards ages 8 and up, but it’s also great for younger people with high reading abilities)

These are just a few of the many gorgeous books that were published in 2012. If your preferred genre wasn’t represented here, or if you’re looking for even more books to explore in the New Year, head on over to Goodreads for recommendations tailored just for you.

What was your favourite read of 2012? Let us know!

Featured photo credit:  Vintage old books on wooden deck via Shutterstock

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