Muruch’s Top 10 Books of 2012

After a few years of delving into classic literature and non-fiction adventure books (mostly about exploring the Amazon and Mexican caves), I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy some new novels this year. I didn’t post a book list last year, so I’m including one 2011 release I read this year. Please comment with your favorite reads of 2012!

Muruch’s Top 10 Books of 2012

10. Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

A charming, quaint little story about an elderly Englishman’s spontaneous journey on foot to see an ailing friend and the effect his decision has on himself, his wife and everyone he encounters along the way. It would have been my #1 book of the year if not for the second half veering off into Forrest Gump territory.

Buy @ Amazon

9. Charlotte Rogan Virago: The Lifeboat

Set in 1914, a group of survivors in a tiny lifeboat gradually lose all sense of decency and themselves after nearly a month at sea in the aftermath of a sunken ocean liner. As the narrator reveals upfront she’s on trial for murder, you know this ain’t no Titanic.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Natasha Solomons: The House at Tyneford

A classically written novel about a young Jewish refugee who escapes WWII-era Vienna to work as a maid in an English manor. It’s like a romanticized Downton Abbey.

Buy @ Amazon

7. Sarah Sundin: With Every Letter

A melodramatic but sweet WWII-era romance about two military outcasts falling in love through correspondence.

Buy @ Amazon

6. Lynn Austin: Wonderland Creek (2011)

…a charming, cheery little novel…Austin pays homage to Lewis Carroll by dropping her feisty, somewhat spoiled, bookworm heroine, Alice, in a strange, Depression-era, backwoods Appalachia town called Wonderland Creek…one of those uplifting reads that leaves a smile on your face at the end, though you’ll miss that wonderful little world when it’s over.

Buy @ Amazon

5. Theodora Goss: The Thorn & The Blossom

…a romantic fable in unusual binding. This beautiful, open-spined book folds out like an accordion, so you can choose to read Evelyn’s story then flip over to Brendan’s perspective (or vice versa) as they meet in a bookstore, fall in love, are torn apart and attempt to find their way back to each other.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Graham Joyce: The Silent Land

An unusual fantasy of a couple who miraculously survive an avalanche while skiing only to find the French village they are staying in completely deserted and eerily silent when they return. A chain of strange events and their inability to escape the village lead the couple to question the very world they live in.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Ron Rash: The Cove

Rash certainly imagines some extraordinary plots. Had his 2009 novel, Serena, been released this year, it would also be on this list. Set in WW1-era Appalachia, The Cove tells of a lonely, outcast girl who falls in love with a mysterious, mute stranger who carries a secret of his own.

Buy @ Amazon

2. Victoria Hislop: The Thread

Another exquisite, multi-cultural, multi-generational tale by Victoria Hislop, who just may be the finest writer alive. Her stories are always a rich, tightly woven, unparalleled tapestry of language.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Kate Morton: The Secret Keeper

…truly a page turner…Morton deftly takes us back and forth from the blitz of WWII-era London through the 1960’s and into the modern age, weaving a universe of mystery and suspense all along the way…so well designed and executed that, for once, the twist at the end took me completely by surprise.

Buy @ Amazon

Vote for Contrast Podcast’s Festive 50 Shortlist!

It’s that time of year again! Contrast Podcast asked several of us bloggers to submit our favorite songs of the year for their annual Festive 50 podcast. They’ve compiled the results and narrowed it down, now it’s time for you to vote for your 10 favorites.

I’ve bolded my top 10 choices. I especially hope to see Anais Mitchell’s “Young Man in America” and Vespers’ “Better Now” make it to the final 50. Not only are they the best songs of the year, in my humble opinion, but chances are yours truly may be asked to introduce them on the podcast. Oh and my negative vote went to Lana Del Ray. Ugh, is there a new dying animal genre or something? :p

The Rules:
1. From the list below, pick your 10 favorite songs
2. Arrange them in order from 1-10 with 1 being your most favorite.
3. If you choose to, you can give a negative vote to any one song.
4. Email your 10 favorites to janderson716@gmail.com with the subject “Festive Fifty Shortlist Vote!!!”
5. Share the list! Get more people to vote! Facebook! Blog! Twitter! Tumblr!

Please do all of the above by Sunday, November 25th.

A.C. Newman – I’m Not Talking
Adele – Skyfall
Alabama Shakes – Be Mine
Alabama Shakes – Hold On
Amy Cook – Getting to You
Anais Mitchell – Young Man in America
Antlers – Drift Dive
Bat For Lashes – Laura
Beach House – Myth
Beach House – Other People
Ben Folds Five – Do It Anyway
Bill Fay – Cosmic Concerto
Bright Light Bright Light – Cry at Films
Brother Ali – Mourning in America
Bruce Springsteen – Land of Hope & Dreams
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Cat Power – Ruin
Chromatics – Kill For Love
Chuck Prophet – Play That Song Again
Crocodiles – Endless Flowers
Curtis Stigers – Things Have Changed
Daughter – Candles
David Byrne & St. Vincent – Who
Dexy’s – Free
Dexy’s – Nowhere is Home
Divine Fits – Would That Not Be Nice
Django Django – Default
Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings
Field Music – A New Town
Fiona Apple – Every Single Night
First Aid Kit – Emmylou
First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You
fun. – Some Nights
fun. – We Are Young
Giant Giant Sand – Forever and a Day
Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Never Go Back
Grimes – Genesis
Grimes – Oblivion
Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute
Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
Harmed Brothers – A Letter to Lisa
Isaiah Toothtaker – LA Nights
Jack White – I’m Shakin
Japandroids – Continuous Thunder
Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built
Jason Lytle – Department of Disappearance
Kanye West et al – Clique
Kendrick Lamar – Backseat Freestyle
Killers – Runaways
Lana Del Rey – Video Games
Linden – If I Had Wings
Lumineers – Ho Hey
Magnetic Fields – Andrew in Drag
Metric – Breathing Underwater
METZ – Wet Blanket
Meursault – Flittin’
Meursault – Settling
Muse – Madness
Muse – Survival
Mynabirds – Generals
North Sea Scrolls – Witches in the Water
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
Offspring – Secrets From the Underground
Offspring – The Future is Now
P.O.S – Fuck Your Stuff
P.O.S – Get Down
Passion Pit – Constant Conversations
Perfume Genius – Hood
Phantom Limb – The Pines
Ponderosa – For Here I Am Born
Psyched – Cut the Chord
Purity Ring – Fineshrine
Purity Ring – Obedear
Raul Midon – Sunshine “I can fly” (Live)
Richard Hawley – Leave Your Body Behind You
Santigold – Disparate Youth
School of Seven Bells – The Night
Sharon Van Etten – Serpents
Shearwater – Dread Sovereign
Shins – Simple Song
Sigur Ros – Ekki Mukk
Sigur Ros – Varud
Tallest Man on Earth – 1904
Tame Impala – Elephant
Tender Trap – Love is Hard Enough
Ting Tings – Hit Me Down Sonny
TNGHT – Higher Ground
Trampled By Turtles – Alone
Triggerfinger – I Will Follow (live)
Twilight Sad – Another Bed
Underworld – And I Will Kiss
Very Best – We Ok
Vespers – Better Now
Walkmen – Heaven
Wedding Present – Deer Caught in the Headlights
White Rabbits – Heavy Metal
xx – Angels