As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats.

Cooking isn’t creative, and it isn’t easy — Alex Halberstadt on Christopher Kimball’s secret sauce for success

The dead are real — Larissa MacFarquhar explores the imagination of Booker Award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel

Obama’s way — Michael Lewis gets unprecedented access to the most powerful and burdened man in the world

The good wife — Ariel Levy follows Callista Gingrich on the trail during the GOP primary

How many Stephen Colberts are there? — Charles McGrath examines the many-sided comedian and character

The strongest man in the world — Burkhard Bilger profiles Brian Shaw, a strength competitor testing the limits of the human body

King of the cosmos — Carl Zimmer follows Neil deGrasse Tyson to infinity and beyond

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The Editors