Here is a meta-list of "best books of the year" lists; the selections I looked at did not thrill me, so here's my own list, in no particular order. First tier:
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography, by John A. Hall.
Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Charles Emmerson, The Future History of the Arctic.
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
David Grossman, To the End of the Land.
The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, edited by Patrick Crotty.
Winston's War: Churchill 1940-1945, by Max Hastings.
Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory.
As toss-ins, from the second tier, there are Understanding the Book of Mormon, Philippson's Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, Peter Watson's The German Genius, Mark Schatzger's Steak, Lydia Davis's Madame Bovary translation, Vietnam: Rising Dragon, Daniel Okrent's Last Call, Gary Gorton's The Panic of 2007, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, W. John Kress, The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Land of Myanmar, a few more good books here, and last but not least Cowen and Tabarrok Modern Principles.
Brought to you by The Age of the Infovore.