(Read about my feelings on year-end lists here.) Presented in no particular order:
1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson was an engrossing, read-through-it-all-at-once experience. Wildly inventive language, a pressing subject matter, and a compelling narrator made for a recipe that left me both hungry and satisfied.
2. Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief haunted me. I kept returning to the words, lingering over images of Max and “Poppa” Hans and Rosa and Rudy and Liesel long after I put the book down. How can you get a more fascinating narrator than Death? Bonus points for one of the most resonant ending lines I have ever read.
3. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book moved me to tweet a recap in response to @HarperChildrens’ challenge: “Boy grows up among the dead, finds them lively. He stumbles into scrapes, brushes up against beauty, and learns how to leave.” It has charming characters crafted by a charming British wit who writes in charming prose. It won the Newbury. (I want to say “read it,” but this is a no pressure list.)
4. The Attolia series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings) by Megan Whalen Turner. I blazed through these four books in a staggeringly short timeframe. She constantly surprises. Political intrigue is not utilized nearly enough in YA literature. I love complicated, grown-up relationships. (Another Newbury!)
5. Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire. Graceling was a great debut novel. Smart, surprising, and well-written. Good world-building is hard, and she pulls it off easily. What was I saying about political intrigue and complicated, grown-up relationships? Oh, yes. Fire has them both in spades. Yahoo for intriguing heroines and a cast of supporting characters who are just as complex! Eagerly awaiting Bitterblue.
6. Philip Roth’s Indignation. I took an all-Roth, all-the-time class and was lucky enough to have the wife of Saul Bellow as my professor. (She is a profound thinker and writer in her own right.) Really, a few books could go here (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Professor of Desire, The Dying Animal), but this book was the one that stuck.
7. The Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins: My first time raiding the Walden library was to grab these two books. They knocked me off my feet. While they’ve been compared to Battle Royale (yes, I see it), they actually made me care about the characters involved. There were stakes and layers and really twisted surprises. While I didn’t wholly love the last book (reviewed here), they were fantastic reads.
8. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin. Subtitled “The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body,” this book hummed with compassion. It takes on eating disorders and what causes them from the trenches, through the observations of a young woman. Science and anecdotes blend fiercely. A gripping nonfiction read for any girl or woman or man who wants to understand what it's like.
9. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: I was overwhelmed by this slim little book. My review (written in the New Year) is here.
10. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: Review is here. Team Werewolf.
OK, I showed you mine. Show me yours?