Author Andrew Solomon is a National Book Award winner for his work Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, which won 13 other awards and was a finalist for a Pulitzer. This book is even better. In Far From the Tree, the gay author has culled 10 years of research and conversations with 300 families across the country to examine many forms of difference that parents and children feel from one another. He talks to parents of kids who are deaf, transgender, prodigies, gay, criminals, or have Down syndrome — people in each of his dozen or so subgroups didn't want to be in the book with the others — in an unbiased way to explore so many of our long-held assumptions about nature versus nurture, the value of life, identity versus ability, and so much more. It's an astonishingly smart and provocative book that is both challenging and compassionate, and reading it creates a sort of community of its own. People will be talking about this 962-page opus for decades to come, and if you read it, it'll stay with you for almost as long. Dare we call it the best book of 2012?