The Best Books of 2012? Part 1: Debut Authors

The BookDepository

I’ve been flicking through publisher catalogues and asking booksellers and publicists about the most exciting books to be published in the UK in 2012. The following are those that grabbed my attention or were mentioned on multiple occasions.

Note: UK release month shown in brackets, date may be different in other countries.

The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (January, 4th Estate)

This book has been a massive success in America, but isn’t published in the UK until January. I’m not convinced that a novel about baseball will work in this country, but a lot of people are getting excited about it so I’ll give it a try.

A Novel Bookstore

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse (January, Europa Editions)

A small bookshop in Paris uses a top-secret committee to select its books. The shop is very popular, but then the committee members begin to recieve death threats. This book promises to be a real treat for literary fans.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (February, Headline)

I’m lucky enough to have received an advanced reading copy of this and can assure you that this book about a mysterious child in the Alaskan wilderness is truly magical. I’m sure it will be one of the most talked about books in 2012, melting the hearts of everyone who reads it.

Q: A Love Story

Q by Evan Mandery (February, 4th Estate)

A writer has fallen in love and is planning a beautiful wedding when a man claiming to be a time-travelling version of his future self warns him to abandon the wedding. This book is being marketed to fans of The Time Traveller’s Wife. I hope it lives up to these high expectations.

The Lifeboat

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (March, Virago)

An ocean-liner sinks leaving an eclectic mixture of passengers battling for a position in the lifeboat. The successful ones may have survived the initial hurdle but they face a grueling three weeks fighting for survival; testing the limits of their morality as well as their physical endurance.

The Land of Decoration

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (March, Chatto & Windus)

The story of a little girl who, having been bullied at school, decides to build her own world filled with people made from pipe cleaners. One day she uses shaving foam and cotton wool to fill her model world with snow and is amazed by the effect this has on the real world. I can’t wait to read it!


Wonder by R J Palacio (March, Bodley Head)

A ten-year-old boy with a facial disfigurement is going to school for the first time. This book was initially written for children, but this tender story of inner beauty has won the hearts of an adult audience and I look forward to sampling it.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (March, Doubleday)

One day Harold Fry nips out of his house to post a letter, but for some reason he ends up walking from one end of the country to the other. This book is described as tender and comic and I’ve heard it is even better than it sounds.

The Playdate

The Playdate by Louise Miller (April, Pan)

A chilling story about what can go wrong when you leave your child in the care of someone you don’t know very well. Sophie Hannah describes it as “a must-read that will tap into every mother’s primal fears”.

Other books to look out for:

Snake Ropes by Jess Richards (March, Sceptre)

Set on a strange island where children are locked up and then start disappearing, this book is said to be reminiscent of Angela Carter. Sceptre paid a six figure sum for two novels from this debut author so her writing must stand out from the crowd.

A Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman (April, Doubleday)

An Australian lighthouse keeper finds a dinghy containing a baby lying next to the body of a dead man. This book is supposed to be packed with raw emotion and moral dilemmas – exactly as I like them!

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (May, Hodder Stoughton)

This novel is written in verse and questions the identity of Shakespeare. I haven’t tried a novel written in verse yet – it could go either way, but I’m up for the experiment!

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (June, Pan)

A beautiful story of a secret friendship between a young girl and her uncle’s bereaved partner. Dealing with the difficult subject of AIDS this book is bound to be an emotional roller-coaster.


Do you like the sound of these books?

Are you excited about any debut novels that will be published in 2012?


Come back next week to see Part 2:

The Best Books of 2012: Authors We Know and Love 

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  1. David says:

    Like you, I’ve been browsing (Amazon rather than catalogues) forthcoming titles for the next six months. I’ve written myself a long list of stuff to keep an eye open for and I must say, debuts seem thin on the ground. In addition to those you’ve picked out I’d add I J Kay’s “Mountains of the Moon”, Darran McCann’s “After the Lockout”, Rajesh Parameswaran’s “I Am An Executioner”, and Will Wiles’ “The Care of Wooden Floors” as ones that have particularly caught my eye.
    Having now finished “The Art of Fielding” I would wholeheartedly recommend it – it doesn’t read like a debut at all (it is quite exceptional) and don’t be put off by the baseball theme as it is about so much more than that. Probably my second favourite read of 2011 – one of those big American books that totally consume you in the manner of Richard Russo, Ethan Canin or John Irving.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, Interesting choices! I’m glad it isn’t just me deciding what to read next year. :-) Instead of browsing amazon I highly recommend looking at the publisher’s catalogues – just go to the website for each publisher and they are available to download. There tends to be more information there than on Amazon.

      The Care of Wooden Floors is a good choice – I actually read that a few weeks ago and found it very entertaining. It is much lighter than the blurb makes out, but has some very funny scenes.

      I’m pleased that you enjoyed the end of The Art of Fielding. I look forward to reading it over Christmas.

  2. Oh some of them sound really good – Q, The Snow Child, A Novel Book Store, The Land of Decoration… can’t wait to see your reviews once you’ve read them! I haven’t really paid attention to what’s coming out next year… maybe I should…

    1. Jackie says:

      Christa, I’m glad you like the sound of them – let’s hope the books are as good as their premise :-)

  3. I’ve got The Snow Child to read – looking forward to that. Attracted to Q, Novel Book Store, Land of Deco like Christa above too. They’ll go on the wishlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Snow Child – I recommend reading it on the first day it snows :-) Sorry for adding to your wishlist so much ;-)

  4. WOW…fantastic previews. I think Snow Child, Play Date, Land of Decoration, Wonder and Lifeboat.

    Thanks for profiling these Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I’m not sure how many will be available in the US next year, but hopefully you’ll be able to get your hands on most of them. Enjoy!

  5. Some great titles! I’d love to read A Novel Bookstore, Q, Snow Child (of which I saw a review on the Book Whisperer’s blog), the Harold Fry book sounds fun too.

    I have no interest in The Art of Fielding myself, but who knows, if you like it, I may too!

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, The Snow Child is getting a lot of early publicity/hype. I hope it doesn’t turn people off, but I think it deserves the attention it is getting.

  6. Ellie says:

    So many exciting sounding books coming out next year. Will defiinitely look out for The Snow Child.

    I’ve found myself struggling with books that revolve around primarily American sports. I pick them up thinking I’ll learn something but normally feel a bit left out of the loop.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ellie, I hate watching all sports and know nothing about baseball. If anyone is going to be left out of the loop it’s me. I’ll let you know how I get on!

  7. Lu says:

    I *LOVE* the UK cover of Art of Fielding! I’m also really intrigued by The Snow Child.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lu, I prefer the UK cover too. I’ll be interested to see which cover suits the content of the book best.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I own A Novel Bookstore so I do need to read that one!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I think it has been out in the US for a while, but I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it as much as everyone else is.

  9. FleurFisher says:

    What a wonderful selection of books.

    I’ve already read Q. I loved it, but I’ve a feeling some may not get on with the slightly neurotic protagonist. And I have a copy of The Snow Child lined up to read this weekend.

    Beyond that, A Novel Bookstore, The Land of Decoration, Snake Ropes and The Marlowe Papers are calling loudly.

    And I have my eye on two debut novels by authors who have published non fiction (it seems to be a trend) – The White Lie by Andrea Gillies and The House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff.

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, I’m really pleased that you enjoyed Q and I hope that you like The Snow Child as much as everyone else does.

      I didn’t pay much attention to the non-fiction titles, so thank you for pointing those out. I’m going to make an effort to read much more non-fiction in 2012 so they may well end up in my pile.

  10. Jenners says:

    Oh wow … you got me excited about quite a few of these now!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Thanks! I’m glad you like the sound of them.

  11. Helen says:

    I received a review copy of The Snow Child too and I loved it. It’s such a lovely, magical story and the descriptions of Alaska are beautiful. I’m sure it’s going to be a big success next year. Most of the other books you mentioned are new to me, but I like the sound of A Novel Bookstore and The Land of Decoration.

    1. Jackie says:

      Helen, I’m sure The Snow Child will be a success, but I am a bit worried it is getting over hyped now. I hope you like the other books you’ve discovered via this post.

  12. What a wonderful list! I already have Q in my wishlist, but I am now going to add A Novel Bookstore and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

    1. Jackie says:

      Booklover Book Reviews, I started Harold Fry over the weekend and couldn’t put it down – I’m sure you’ll love it :-)

  13. Aths says:

    I really want to read Art of Fielding too! Maybe I should just pretend that I am in the UK and read it. :) I’ve also heard a lot about Q! That’s another one on my wishlist. There are a couple others I’m eager to read (though I don’t know when they get released over there) – American Dervish, Arcadia and Immortal Bird.

    1. Jackie says:

      Aths, Thanks for the recommendations – Arcadia is going to be on my post next week, but the other two were new to me. I’ve just looked them up and both are released in the UK in Jan/Feb. Thanks for pointing them out!

  14. Anbolyn says:

    A Light Between Oceans is calling my name!

    1. Jackie says:

      Anbolyn, Yes. Lighthouse keepers always seem to grab my attention too :-)

  15. I really enjoyed The Art of Fielding — it is more than just a book about baseball. I will be curious to see how it’s received overseas.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I keep hearing that, but as someone who knows nothing about baseball I’ll be interested to see how that can be true. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

      1. David says:

        Jackie, I knew absolutely zero about baseball before starting this novel, beyond my assumption that it is a bit like rounders(!). I am the very opposite of ‘sporty’ – sports bore me silly. There are some baseball games in the novel, some of the terminology is alien, but you can grasp it largely from context. And even within those passages character is everything, as it is throughout the book. The themes are universal, Harbach has just chosen baseball (and the works of Herman Melville, which also figure largely and about which I am equally ill-informed) to explore them. I don’t know if you’ve read Jane Smiley’s “Horse Heaven” which was about horse-racing, but that was another novel which I enjoyed a great deal despite being centred around a sport about which I knew nothing. As one of the quotes on the back of the books states: “The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction in the way that Moby Dick is just a fish story”.

  16. My goal for 2012 is to focus on debut authors. I’m hosting the 2012 Debut Author Adult Fiction challenge. I’m going to add these to my 2012 Debut Authors database.

    Great post!

  17. SO many good looking books here. I’m especially interested in The Snow Child at this point.

  18. Kailana says:

    I had heard of The Snow Child before and thought it looked good, but some of these others have caught my attention and been added to my wish list. :)

  19. Luci says:

    I see someone else has mentioned Darran McCann’s After the Lockout, a historical novel set in Ireland in 1917, to be published in February. I recommend it.


  1. The Best Books of 2012? Part 2: Authors We Know and Love – Farm Lane Books Blog

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