Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen - This book is not "serious" literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it was one of those books I found endlessly charming, and it came along at the exact right time--a plane ride! This is a book that was good enough to eat, and I feel sure I'll read it a bunch more times in the future.
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - Sweet, funny, heartbreaking, unique. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I was completely charmed and carried away by it. Gaiman's children's and adolescent fiction is by far my favorite of his works.
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson - I almost didn't pick up this "it" book, but I'm so very glad I did. I found it quite the overwhelming read. It was epic in scope and made me cry a little. Those are the books that always win me over.
Evernight, by Claudia Gray - This is another one of those books that I never really expected to love, but it's one of the few vampire novels I've attempted post-Stephenie Meyer that has really stuck out. I found the main character a real trooper. I'm a sucker for a hard-headed female lead.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris - You had to know this one would make the list. While many others have been surprised at some of the morbid inclusions in this collection, I find that Sedaris's ability to continually evolve is one of his most winning qualities. While it was sobering in spots, it was still endlessly funny and thoughtful.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver - While the average person will probably never be able to devote herself to producing her own food in the ways Kingsolver did (some of us have to work all year) I still loved this book. I found it fascinating the ways the family provided for themselves. I loved the recipes, the humor, and it really made me stop and think about what types of food I put in my body.
On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan - One of the audio books I listened to this year. McEwan's reading made this book doubly powerful. It's a slim volume, but he has an uncanny ability to create a sense of claustrophobia and discomfort in his characters and in the listener as well. While I found this book very sad, it was also masterfully written and it's stayed with me.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - Thank you to everyone who peer pressured me into reading this most classic of classic American novels (Heather, CdnReader, Kristy). I avoided it for years because I was burned out on the movie and various stage productions, but at the end of the day they can't hold a candle to Harper Lee's novel. Scout was precious, Atticus is the dad everyone wants, and it was just the perfect novel.
The End of America: Letters to a Young Patriot, by Naomi Wolf - A highly controversial but important book, this one got me fired up and ready for election time for certain! Wolf points out the ways in which various Bush administration policies have robbed Americans of basic freedoms and why we should care. This book is truly an antidote to apathy no matter what your politics.
The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue - Another audiobook. Donohue masterfully weaves together the stories of a boy stolen by changelings and the changeling that takes the boy's place in the human world. Each have distinct struggles and learn to adapt and love their respective lives. The writing was fantastic, the narration was superb, and the story is one I look forward to revisiting.
And because it's SO FREAKIN' HARD for me to choose just ten books, here are the ones I loved and wanted to include, but if I went by ratings they scored just slightly lower (mostly 9's) for whatever reason. They're still awesome. Read 'em!
- The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
- Capote in Kansas, by Kim Powers
- Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster
- Mail Order Bride, by Mark Kalesniko
- Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer
- The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly
- Why Animals Matter, by Demello and Williams
- 1001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham