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The Best Bay Area Books of 2012

A short rundown of some of the most enjoyable, interesting, hilarious, heartbreaking, and mind-blowing reads from the year that was.

Here we are in the final stretch of 2012. 'Tis the season to make year-end "best of" lists. Rather than force ourselves to pick favorite from what was unquestionably a bountiful year in Bay Area book writing, we've asked a few of the local literati themselves to do the retrospecting for us.

Joshua Mohr
Monstress by Lysley Tenorio
"Most authors can be funny or poignant. Lysley is that rare talent who can accomplish both these feats at the same time. "Monstress" has you laughing and contemplating great existential mysteries simulataneously." 

Tony DuShane
Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
"I didn't expect to like this book since it's written by a Google employee on the subject of meditation and mindfulness, but I was very surprised. It's a bit silly with the jokes, but in an endearing way. The Dalai Lama blurbed it, but a different blurb was used for the cover. How do you demote a Dalai Lama blurb to the back cover?"

Stephen Elliott (with three choices because he "doesn't like to think of writing as a competition")
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
"[Like] the first week of my relationship with my ex-girlfriend. That week I got a tattoo, and cancelled my plans to leave San Francisco, and walked around in a daze showing people the bruises she'd left on my chest and back. It wasn't long until everything in that relationship went wrong and I spent the next 19 months locked in something like an emotional mental hospital, but the beginning was euphoric."

A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers
"[Like] a conversation with Dave Eggers over drinks at a bar on Valencia. There's no actual correlation but I always feel great after talking to him...and his book made me feel good, too"

A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins
"I enjoyed [this] the way I used to enjoy smoking pot with my friend's mom when I was twelve and reading her my poetry out loud...She wore tight jeans and gave me the kind of attention that made me the writer I am today."

Michelle Tea (another opponent of writerly competition)
Riding Fury Home by Chana Wilson
"She grew up in the 50s with a seriously unstable mother who was suicidal, on bad psych meds, and getting electro-shock therapy. When she gets older...those terrible years are revealed to be the result of trying to 'cure' her queerness. Then mother and daughter gay it up together in Greenwich Village!"

Friendships Between Artists is an Equation of Love and Survival by Xara Thustra
"A riotous, full-color explosion of one of my favorite artists' political, communal street-based work. It's very exciting!"

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
"It took one of my favorite writers and another artist I really love to create an illustrated novel of my most favorite sort: teenaged romance! It is very great to read aloud to your own romance, and you should actually read it soon before the film comes!"

 

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