Andrew Cattanach’s Top Books of 2012

by |December 21, 2012

Town Crier2012 has been an incredible year for the arts. We had the sublime documentary series The Shire, the whimsical adaptation of a board game not played since the 50’s, Battleship, and the welcome introduction of dubstep into every song on every radio station across the world. I don’t know how they do it. Actually, I’m pretty sure they just turn a knob clockwise…..

…genius is born in many ways.

But a wonderful year for books it was, ‘ole 2012. Some riveting fiction flooded the shelves and some of the most anticipated biographies for decades seemed to congregate at our door this year.

After much soul-searching, writing, crossing out, thinking about, reinstating and paper ball creating, I’ve put together my best six books for 2012.

And here we are….


by Zadie Smith

It is a mark of Zadie Smith’s genius that some people actually thought this was below par compared to the rest of her books. It isn’t, and yes she sets the bar extremely high but she vaults over it, with bells on. NW stands as another triumph for the 2006 Orange Prize winner, and another wickedly funny, dagger-toothed look at the world of modern, multicultural Britain, oxymoronic as Smith may reflect on it be.

Click here to buy NW from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

9780670076604On Warne

by Gideon Haigh

Perhaps the best cricket book of the decade, certainly the best of the year. Gideon Haigh’s masterful take on one of the most celebrated Australian cricketers and most lamented Australian characters is a joy. Haigh plays the ball not the man and yet even without the tabloid gossip that has littered other books on the former leg-spinner he delivers a terrifically engaging look at Warne, both the man and the athlete.

Click here to buy On Warne from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

9780297867913The Orchardist

by Amanda Coplin

An absolute bell-ringer that woke me up from my winter slumber, The Orchardist is one of the most impressive debuts for some time. With calm, deliberate, minimalist prose it echoes the greats of American literature and as the crescendo hits you find yourself on the edge of your seat when you thought you were reading a lovely book about a apple farm. Sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, I’m already typing author Amanda Coplin into google to see what she has in store for us.

Click here to buy The Orchardist from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Waging Heavy Peace

by Neil Young

I’ve been waiting for this book all my life. Taken by Young’s seminal album Harvest as a young whipper-snapper in rural NSW, I always hoped he’d betray his promise to never write a memoir and sure enough he did. Much like Paul Kelly’s exquisite How To Make Gravy, you can start from anywhere in Waging Heavy Peace, such is his power as a rambling story teller. In the same way he revolutionised the music industry a dozen times over, Neil Young delivers a warm, contemplative and rewarding collection of memories that have only been enriched over time.

Click here to buy Waging Heavy Peace from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


by Karl Taro Greenfeld

It’s always nice to be surprised by a novel, to write it off before it spits truth back at you. Triburbia was that. Imagine The Slap without the slap, set in Soho, New York. Doesn’t sound anything more than middle-aged hipsters talking about first-world problems with their kids in the corner of the room does it? And that’s where the genius lies. Author Karl Taro Greenfeld chooses not to open this world up with a can opener or even a sharp knife, but, like a can of sardines that won’t budge, throws it down onto the hot pavement  busting it open and watches the oil slowly seep. Triburbia is an unflinching portrayal of modern life beautifully extracted, with so many worlds dissecting each other, under the watch of a masterful eye.

Click here to buy Triburbia from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

by Gil Scott-Heron

Immortalised by his haunting words “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, Gil Scott-Heron is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the battle for civil rights in American history. While he sadly left our mortal shores in May of 2011, we’re incredibly lucky that he finished his memoirs which were published posthumously in early 2012.  His body of work in politics, music, film and literature is extraordinary and it’s with joy that I discovered the final words he would put his name to would be so beautiful, so poignant, so visceral.

Click here to buy The Last Holiday from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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  • Robyn

    December 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks Andrew. I was looking for a book to read over my holidays. Now I have found 6.

    • Andrew Cattanach

      December 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Hi Robyn, my pleasure. I hope you have a lovely quiet holiday season to get through some of them, they’re fantastic!

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