So! Onto my favorite books this year where I actually had to use my eyes.
Keep in mind that the books I'm listing weren't necessarily published in 2011, I just stumbled upon them in 2011.
I find this list very interesting and fairly representative of the crazy array of genres I read this year. I might also add this has something to do with the fact that I gave up nearly all ARCs and tours (a few squeaked through) and challenges. I basically read whatever the hell I wanted. And this is what I got...awesomeness.
Again, in no particular order:
1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick. This book may be for kids 9 and up, but it seems to collect fans of every age. Part novel part storybook, this classic inspired my imagination by introducing both a famous maker of old black and white movies and the amazing invention of the automaton. While it is as big as a doorstop, you will be able to read it in a few hours, and I might guess your jaw will be hanging open from cover to cover.
2. Outlaw - Warren Kiefer. I read this book for CB James' Western Month, but it was actually a re-read from my pre-blogging days. And despite what you might think, this is not a book for men! Our protagonist is a morally ambiguous but charismatic guy who escorts us through the Wild West at the turn of the century and beyond. It is gripping and completely un-putdownable.
3. Cutting For Stone - Abraham Verghese. If I analyzed all the elements of a successful Sandy book, this one would not have qualified. Orphans in Africa, raised by doctors, becoming doctors themselves, their destinies shaped by seemingly unimportant events. The description didn't do anything for me, and I only read it because of book club. But Verghese's writing pulled me in from the beginning, the characters capturing my heart.
4. The Doomsday Book - Connie Willis. Time travel and The Plague! Great characters! A pace of plot that your little eyes can barely keep up with! Read it so you can gush with the rest of us!
5. The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard. On the surface, this is a story about a girl who goes missing. Beneath the surface, it is about a community (mostly the girl's male classmates) and how they deal with her loss, and how they deal with growing up. It is unique for it's collective first person prose, and it won me over with all the familiar high school-isms that I completely related to. People were hot and cold on this book, but I loved it.
6. What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty. When a middle-aged mother bonks her head and forgets the last ten years of her life, she is forced to examine how her life has deteriorated from her more earnest and innocent days of a decade prior. This touching, extremely easy-to-read book gave me alot to think about.
7. This Is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper. There seems to have been a surge of books about men bumbling through a life crisis with humor and humility. This one caused belly laughs and spitting of drinks and some touching reflections on family. I'm anxious to see how this one turns out on film.
8. Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist. I thought I was over vampires, but Lindqvist takes them to a whole new level, weaving in coming-of-age and bullying to make an unforgettable story. And some really horrifying, toe-curling business with acid.
9. Exposed - Kimberly Marcus. This was my first experience with free verse, and no wonder I totally fell in love with this form of prose. The story is a riveting one about one young high school girl and a tragedy that explodes around her. Do yourself a huge favor, and set aside a couple of hours one day to appreciate this one.
10. ALL THINGS NESBO! I'm not going to list all my reviews here, but was the year of the Nesbo. I read all of his translated books (except his latest "The Leopard") and became completely addicted to this drunken but dogged Norwegian police officer. It was certainly the highlight of 2011!
There you have it, the fruits of my labor. Have you read any of these, and what did you think? My wish for 2012 is that I can continue to resist commitment and forge my own reading destiny!