The year is almost over, and I finally get to post my top ten favorite books of the year. For the first time, I am participating in “Top Ten Tuesday” created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they come up with a new top ten list and invite other bloggers to participate. I read some great books this year and it was harder than I thought to narrow it down to only ten. But I did! And here they are, my favorite reads of 2011, in no particular order:
1. READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. A high-speed romp through a future where virtual reality is the norm and knowledge of 80’s pop culture might lead you to hidden treasure. OK, it’s really hard to describe this book in one sentence. Ready Player One is filled with 80’s trivia, fantastic characters, and enough adrenaline to keep you up late reading. You can read my review here.
2. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor. A young-adult novel about a mysterious girl named Karou who has blue hair and draws pictures of creatures that may or may not exist. A beautifully written story and one of the most imaginative young adult books I’ve read this year. It’s also the only young adult title on my list, and I read a lot of them. Unfortunately, young adult books are all starting to feel the same to me, but this one stood out, not only for its content, but for the lovely and original dust jacket.
3. THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern. A story that spans decades, The Night Circus is a surreal tale of dangerous magicians and true love. Morgenstern’s prose is magical and lush, and I loved the dream-like experience of reading this book. You can read my review here.
4. THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson. If you are looking for a stand-out story about a dysfunctional family, this is the one to beat. The story of a family of performance artists, The Family Fang is a cautionary tale of how parents can damage their children. It is funny, strange and sad, and I loved every word.
5. ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood. This book originally came out in 2003, but I just got around to reading it this year, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful and horrifying vision of a future where genetic engineering has gone too far. Oryx and Crake is written in Atwood’s usual lush style and I could not put it down.
6. THE LAST WEREWOLF by Glen Duncan. A bloody, sexy and funny story of, you guessed it, the last werewolf on earth. I loved the characters, and Duncan’s writing is gorgeous. You can read my review here.
7. INCENDIARY by Chris Cleave. Although the subject matter is hard to read, this story of a distraught wife and mother who has lost her husband and son to a suicide bomber is a must-read. The first-person narrative is powerful and even humorous despite the character’s pain and is the reason this novel succeeds on so many levels.
8. STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett. One of my favorite books of all time is Bel Canto by Patchett, and I’m happy to say State of Wonder is just as good. The story takes us deep into the Amazon jungle on a search for a missing scientist. It’s got everything: drama, suspense and lots of mystery.
9. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness. In short, an epic story about the relationship between a vampire and a witch. It’s much more than that, however, and I’m very happy that this is the first of a trilogy (Book Two comes out in 2012!).
10. SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell. Another tale of a dysfunctional family, Swamplandia! is a story of a family of alligator-wrestlers. How can you not want to read this book? It is poignant look at one family’s attempts to survive in a changing world.
It was a great year for books, and I’m looking forward to 2012. Stay tuned for my next top-ten list, “Tammy’s Top Ten Books of 2011 That I Wanted to Read but Didn’t…”