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From hip hop forefather Gil Scott-Heron's honest memoir to a novel based on Kafka's love letters, we collect some of our favorite hot-read reviews of the year. By Jimmy So, Mythili Rao, and Nicholas Mancusi.

By Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron’s death in May 2011 reminded us that hip-hop, a commerce machine today, once found at its center a devotion to righting social wrongs through the force of simple words.

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'The Last Holiday: A Memoir' by Gil Scott-Heron. 384 pp. Grove Press. $15.

TWEET TWEET

Twitter’s Winners and Losers

A lot can go right or wrong in just 140 characters. A look at the Mars Curiosity, Chris Brown, Donald Trump, and more of the best and worst tweets of 2012.

Twitter, as a chamber of instant reactions and off-the-cuff musings, is in some way a mirror of true character. Not to mention a yardstick of history. In 2012 many a true color was shown via 140 characters. From the good, the bad, and the Donald, here are the social-media site’s winners and losers of the year.

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From left: Chris Brown, Amanda Bynes, Donald Trump, and President Obama. (AP Photo)

THE WINNERS 

“Four more years”
When Obama’s social-media team picked out the newly reelected president’s victory picture, they didn’t expect it to skyrocket into legendary Twitter territory. The touching photo of Barack and Michelle in a serene embrace quickly became the most popular tweet of all time—retweeted more than 800,000 times in 200 countries around the world. Here’s the story behind the making of Twitter’s most viral photo.

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R.I.P. in the TMZ

RIP

Writers Who Left Us in 2012

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We look back and remember the many authors who died this year, from Gore Vidal to Nora Ephron, from Ray Bradbury to Adrienne Rich.

Gore Vidal, 86
(Oct. 3, 1925, to July 31, 2012)

The wicked wit was one of the last survivors from the golden age of American letters. Writers from Nathaniel Rich to Morris Dickstein pay tribute.

Nora Ephron, 71
(May 19, 1941, to June 26, 2012)

She could do it all: directing, screenwriting, journalism, humor, novels. Friends remember her.

Carlos Fuentes, 83
(November 11, 1928 to May 15, 2012)

The Mexican novelist was one of the icons of the Latin American explosion “El Boom.” Mac Margolis and Lorenza Muñoz on the literary father.

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Fashion Tech’s Breakout Year

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The Year’s Craziest State: Florida, Of Course

Listen Up!

The Best Music Albums of 2012

Last year, silky rapper Drake stood atop many critics’ lists for best album of the year. But 2012 was all about R&B crooner Frank Ocean. From Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ to Fiona Apple’s avant-garde stylings and Taylor Swift’s power-pop anthems, here are The Daily Beast’s best music albums of the year.

1. Frank Ocean—Channel Orange

The 25-year-old New Orleans native turned the homophobic hip-hop world on its head when he posted an open letter to his Tumblr account back on July 4 describing his first great love—with a man. And buzz was initially soft on the sultry R&B crooner due to his association with the demented alt hip-hop collective OFWGKTA. But Ocean’s debut album, Channel Orange, a moody meditation on life, love, and loss in the City of Angels, managed to transcend sex, race, and genre. It’s an impassioned, tender, and grandiose R&B saga featuring heartbreaking ballads that touch on unrequited love (“Thinkin Bout You,” “Bad Religion”), religious symbolism (“Pyramids”), and much more. It deserves its rightful place alongside the best Prince and Stevie Wonder albums. A new classic.

2. Beach House—Bloom

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Year of the ‘God Particle’

From ‘Borgen’ to ‘Downton Abbey’ to ‘Girls,’ Jace Lacob and Maria Elena Fernandez pick the 10 best TV shows of the year. Warning: may contain spoilers if you are not entirely caught up on the shows discussed here.

Now is the winter of our (TV) discontent. After a fall season that largely failed to deliver on the promise of new shows—and, in some cases, returning programs as well—it’s time to take a look back at the year in television as a whole, as we try to remove such canceled shows as Partners, The Mob Doctor, and Made in Jersey from our collective memory.

Best of 2012

Clockwise from top left: Mark Seliger/HBO; Frank Ockenfels/AMC; Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for Masterpiece; Mike Kollöffel/Courtesy of DR TV

But rather than dwell on the very worst of the year (ABC’s Work It!), let’s celebrate the best of what the medium had to offer us over the last 12 months. Below, our picks for the 10 best shows of 2012, which include a Danish political drama, a sumptuous period drama, a resurrected primetime soap, and a navel-gazing comedy.

A few caveats before proceeding: these are individual lists representing personal opinions; omitting a particular show does not invalidate the rest of the list, nor does including a specific show; and the lists are limited to what aired on U.S. television during the calendar year. Finally, a WARNING: For those of you who aren’t entirely caught up on the shows selected, read on at your own risk—the descriptions contain many spoilers.

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The Year in Celeb Scandals

Good Reads

Our Favorite Books of 2012

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From Tina Brown to Andrew Sullivan to Michael Tomasky, our writers and editors pick the favorite books they read this year.

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Into the sinister, bizarre kingdom of North Korea Johnson leads us with flair.

Zeitgeist 2012

What did the world search this year? Google has released its look back at the year in internet exploration, so watch and find out!

Cheat Sheet

Stranger Than Fiction

2012’s Strangest Cheats of the Year

2012’s Strangest Cheats of the Year

Fashion Beast

Best Looks

Hillary’s New Title: Grandma

Hillary’s New Title: Grandma

Chelsea Clinton shocked her mother, the audience, and America when she announced she’s pregnant. With one Clinton presidency done and another one possibly starting, this could be the making of a dynasty.

Neverending Trial

Pistorius’s Star Witness Disaster

The Lives of Others

Sorry, Snowden: Putin Lied to You

LOCKED UP

Captive With a Canine For 9 Years

Girl Power

Stop Calling Hidalgo a Style Icon

2012 Youtube Cheat Sheet

What's better than watching 'Gangnam Style' and then 'S*** Girls Say?' Watching an awesome mashup of those two videos, plus the other most popular YouTube videos of the year.

2012 Movie Mashup

Approximately 182 movies in 7 minutes. Exactly one epic mashup. Enjoy 'The Dark Life of the TwiFall Hunger Avengers: Lincoln.'

Entertainment

Television

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2012

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2012

Jace Lacob and Maria Elena Fernandez pick their 10 best TV shows of 2012, from ‘Borgen’ to ‘Awkward.’