2012 is about half over, and the books editors at Amazon have already chosen their top 10 books of the year so far, just in time for you to make a few additions to your beach bag. Unlike the film industry, there isn’t a clearly defined “prestige” season for book releases, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of these titles popped up on year-end best lists as well – although there are still many highly touted titles yet to come in the fall, including ones from J.K. Rowling, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Tom Wolfe, and J.R. Moehringer. Check out Amazon’s picks and snippets from EW reviews below:
1) Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo: A Pulitzer-winning author writes the true story of struggle and hope in a Mumbai slum. (EW’s review: Jeff Giles wrote, “Beautiful Forevers will be one of the year’s big books — a conversation starter, an award winner.”)
2) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Plot twists and revelations make this a psychological thriller of the highest order. (EW’s review: Giles wrote, “It’s an ingenious and viperish thriller — and no matter how smart you think you are, it’s going to bite you.”)
3) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Two kids with cancer deal with the big subjects – life, love, and death – in this perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. (EW’s review: I wrote, “The gut-busting laughs that come early in the novel make the luminous final pages all the more heartbreaking.”)
4) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain: Questions of privilege, power, and heroism swirl in this debut novel about recently returned Iraq War veterans invited to attend a Cowboys football game.
5) The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro: The fourth installment in Caro’s authoritative biographical series on Lyndon Baines Johnson – a masterpiece in nonfiction. (EW’s review: Darren Franich wrote, “This is an addictive read, written in glorious prose that suggests the world’s most diligent beat reporter channeling William Faulkner.”)
6) The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson: A superb novel about freedom, sacrifice and violence, set within the dark borders of North Korea. (EW’s review: Rob Brunner wrote, “Johnson has created such a convincing universe that it doesn’t really matter if he’s accurately captured every detail. It feels real, often terrifyingly so.”)
7) Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: A singular portrait of a girl and her family transformed during the late-80s AIDS epidemic.
8) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed: A memoir of a 1,100-mile journey that nearly broke the author to pieces, before she used those pieces to rebuild her life. (EW’s review: Melissa Maerz wrote, “A rich, riveting true story about a woman who has bottomed out emotionally and decides to do something wildly out of character — hike the Pacific Crest Trail — to get her life back on track.”)
9) The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: Speculative fiction and a girl’s coming-of-age story meet in this gripping debut. (EW’s review: Maerz wrote, “It perfectly captures what it’s like to be a teenager: always feeling like the world is going to end, waiting for the day when life goes back to normal, until you grow up and discover that it never really does.”)
10) Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll: An examination of the largest, most profitable company in history by a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.