Alexis M. Smith

Best Books of the Year: My personal Top 20

2012 Juli Frantje-Haus Selfpic.

(After a popular list last year [Link]…)

…here are the 20 very best books I’ve read in 2012:


20: JASON SHIGA, “Bookhunter”, Graphic Novel, 2007.

19: GAYLE FORMAN: “If I stay”, Young Adult Novel, 2009.
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

18: DAVID MARKSON: “The Last Novel”, (postmodern) Novel / Lists / Trivia Collection, 2007.
The Last Novel

17: SHARON M. DRAPER: “Out of my Mind”, Young Adult Novel, 2010.
Out of My Mind

16: OCTAVIA BUTLER: “Kindred”, (Fantasy) Novel, 1971.

15: JOHAN HARSTAD: “Buzz Aldrin, what happened to you in all the Confusion?”, Novel (Norway), 2005.
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?

14: KRISTEN D. RANDLE: “The only Alien on the Planet”, Young Adult Novel, 1995.
The Only Alien on the Planet

13: DANIELA KRIEN: “Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen”, Novel (German), 2011.
Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen

12: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: “A Streetcar named Desire”, Play, 1947. […alternative / runner-up: HENRIK IBSEN: “A Doll’s House”, Play (Norway), 1879.]
A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House

11: ARNO GEIGER: “Der alte König in seinem Exil” (Austrian) Alzheimer Memoir, 2011.
Der alte König in seinem Exil

10: SARAH LEAVITT: “Tangles. A Story about Alzheimer’s, my Mother and me”, Graphic Novel, 2010.
Tangles : a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me

09: ARNE BELLSTORF: “Baby’s in Black”, Graphic Novel (German), 2010.
Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg

08: SCOTT SNYDER: “Batman: The Court of Owls”, Graphic Novel (and good start for new “Batman” readers):
Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls

07: STEWART O’NAN: “The Odds. A Love Story”, Novel, 2012.
The Odds: A Love Story

06: JOACHIM HELFER, RASHID al-DAIF: “Die Verschwulung der Welt”, Essay (German / Persian), 2006.
Die Verschwulung der Welt.

05: ALEXIS M. SMITH: “Glaciers”, Novel, 2012.

04: JOE HILL: “Locke & Key” series, Graphic Novels, 2008 to 2013.
Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

03: MARLEN HAUSHOFER: “The Wall / Die Wand”, Austian novel, 1962.
Die Wand

02: GERBRAND BAKKER: “The Detour / Der Umweg”, Dutch novel, 2010.
Der Umweg

01: RUTH KLÜGER: “Still alive. A Holocaust Girlhood remembered”, Memoir / Essay, 1992.
Weiter leben. Eine Jugend.


For a complete list of books I’ve read in 2012, please go here [Link].


In comics, I’ve also enjoyed Guy Delisle’s travelogues / non-fiction graphic novels “Burma Chronicles” [Link], “Pyongyang” [Link] and “Jerusalem” [Link], the “New 52” DC comic books featuring “Wonder Woman” [Link], “Green Lantern” [Link], “Swamp Thing” [Link] and the “Birds of Prey” [Link] – and large parts of Naoki Urasawa’s “Pluto” [Link]

…and “Honey & Clover” [Link], a “Scott Pilgrim”-like, bittersweet / comedic coming-of-age manga series about five friends at an art school.

Here’s a collage of my notable graphic novel discoveries in 2012:

Wordpress Graphic Novels Best-of 2012.

Have a good 2013! More to come!


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Underdog Literature, December 2012: 15 fresh or brilliant, off-the-wall titles

Underdog Literature December 2012 WordPress.

Here are 12 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles – all published in 2012 – that might deserve more attention:


01: RICHARD KRAMER, “These Things happen”, 272 pages, 2012. [quirky domestic drama, written by a former “My so-called Life” writer.]

02: PHILIP SINGTON, “The Valley of Unknowing”, 298 pages, 2012. [set in the GDR, a story in the style of “The Lives of Others”]

03: LEANNE SHAPTON, “Swimming Studies”, 336 pages, 2012. [Essays / Memoir, German title: “Bahnen ziehen” (Link, Perlentaucher)]

04: KEVIN YOUNG, “The Grey Album”, 476 pages, 2012. [Essays / Experimental]

05: WILEY CASH, “A Land more kind than Home”, 320 pages, 2012. [literary Thriller]

06: GILLIAN FLYNN, “Gone Girl”, 419 pages, 2012 [Thriller / Bestseller].

07: JESS WALTER, “Beautiful Ruins”, 337 pages, 2012 [Bestseller].

08: FLORIAN ILLIES, “1913 – Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts”, 320 pages, 2012. [German (Link: Perlentaucher)]

09: PIA ZIEFLE, “Suna”, 304 pages, 2012. [German]

10: VERONIQUE BIZOT, “Un Avenir” / “Eine Zukunft”, 130 pages, 2011. [French; German edition (Link, 2012)review at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Link)]

11: KERSTIN EKMAN, “Schwindlerinnen” / “Grand final i skojarbranschen”, 448 pages, 2011. [Swedish, German edition 2012 (Perlentaucher)]

12: MICHEL ROSTAIN, “The Son” / “Le Fils” / “Als ich meine Eltern verließ”, 160 pages, 2011. [French Memoir, German Edition 2012 (Perlentaucher)]


Here are nine 2012 books that I’ve featured / mentioned here before… and that might (still) be worth a look:

01: STEVE ERICKSON, “These Dreams of you”, 309 pages, 2012.

02: SHANNON MESSENGER, “Keeper of the Lost Cities”, 496 pages, 2012. [Young Adult / Fantasy]

03: CLAIRE LEGRAND, “The Cavandish Home for Boys and Girls”, 352 pages, 2012. [Young Adult, Horror]

04: FRANCIS SPUFFORD, “Red Plenty”, 448 pages, 2007. [Science Fiction; German version published in April 2012: “Rote Zukunft”, Rowohlt]

05: JENNY LAWSON, “Let’s pretend this never happened”, 318 pages, 2012. [Memoir / Comedy]

06: NICK HARKAWAY, “Angelmaker”, 482 pages, 2012. [post-modern, absurdist Sci-Fi Noir]

07: GAITO GASDANOW, “Das Phantom des Alexander Wolf”, 192 pages, 1947. [Russian emigré writer, new German translation]

08: GERMÁN KRATOCHWIL, “Scherbengericht”, 311 pages, 2012. [German, Link (Perlentaucher)]

09: NORA BOSSONG, “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung”, 296 pages, 2012. [German, Link (Perlentaucher)]


Here are 3 books not published in 2012 (…to round up “Underdog Literature’s” usual “15 new recommendations, every month” format):

01: TAIYE SELASI, “Ghana must go”, 336 pages, 2013.

02: SAMANTHA HUNT, “The Seas”, 193 pages, 2004.

03: J.L. CARR, “A Month in the Country”, 135 pages, 1980.


Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: SIMON MAWER, “The Fall”, 442 pages, 2003.

02: NATALIA GINZBURG, “All our Yesterdays”, 300 pages, 1952.

03: KVETA LEGATOVA, “Zelary” / “Der Mann aus Zelary”, 156 pages, 2001 [Czechian].

04: WILLY RUSSELL, “The Wrong Boy”, 506 pages, 2002.

05: MARKUS FELDENKIRCHEN, “Was zusamengehört”, 318 pages, 2010. [German]


…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

5 of 5 stars: ALEXIS M. SMITH, “Glaciers”, 174 pages, 2012.

5 of 5 stars: MARLEN HAUSHOFER, “The Wall” / “Die Wand”, 284 pages, 1962. [Austrian]

4 of 5 stars: DANIELA KRIEN, “Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen”, 240 pages, 2011. [German]


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