Best book I read during 2012: The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement, by Miriam Pawel (Bloomsbury, 2010).
This book tells the story of Chavez and the United Farm Workers organization from the point of view of those who worked closest with Chavez. It offers a more nuanced view than much of the material that has long been available about Chavez and the events in which he played such a central role. The light shed on Chavez and his personality is often but not always positive. What results is an image of him that is more realistic and more human, but just as admirable, perhaps not so much in spite of but because of that fact.
Other big favorites from 2012 reading:
If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice, by Maureen O’Connell (Liturgical Press, 2012)
The Option for the Poor in Christian Theology, edited by Daniel G. Groody (University of Notre Dame, 2007).
(Having been working through much of this year on finishing up my own book, Faith Meets World: The Gift and Challenge of Catholic Social Teaching, most of the reading I did focused on topics related to social justice and Catholic social teaching.)
Favorite novel of 2012: Fragile, by Lisa Unger (2010)