- Not all of these books were released this year; by "new," I mean that I read them for the first time this year.
- I'm not even sure if this list is accurate. I only started with "Never Let Me Go" because I know I received it last Christmas. I can't seem to get Shelfari to show me exactly when I added the books.
- I'm a little disappointed that I didn't read a lot more this year. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in one or two more books before 2012 comes.
And now, the list.
- Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. A Christmas gift from my grandmother. Really beautiful story, made me cry.
Also, it is not a little painful to read about the death throes of a young couple's life together when you are constantly asking yourself whether you are in the death throes of a young couple's life together.
- The Joys of Love, by Madeleine L'Engle. Another Christmas gift, this one from my mother. It's Ms. L'Engle's first novel, posthumously published by her granddaughters. I found it a refreshingly simple, happy look at what it was like for one of my favorite authors to be a young writer and actress.
- Certain Women, by Madeleine L'Engle. Another gift from Mom. It might be a little dry for some people, but I loved all the theater and Biblical references, as well as the way Ms. L'Engle wrote about this family.
- Betty Crocker's Microwave Cookbook. Ha.
- I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. I loved it until I got to the ending. What a cop-out.
- Mercury, by Hope Larson. My expectations were high for this Eisner winner, so I was a little disappointed with the simplistic story. Good art, premise, and choice of themes, though.
- Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson. My gift to Martin. I sort of wanted to take it back after I read it, haha. I really enjoyed the whole investigation into apophenia.
Yes, that was my favorite word for a few weeks.
- For the Win, by Cory Doctorow. I've actually ranted about this here and here.
- Art & Max, by David Wiesner. Visually exuberant, like a Pixar short with words.
- Just Being Audrey, by Margaret Cardillo. A tribute to the Hollywood icon that also serves to introduce her to young readers. I think the illustrations captured the poise, charm, and lightness that fans have ascribed to Ms. Hepburn.
- A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. Just awesome.
- The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. Also awesome. I generally love stories about the world after human civilization, so it was great to get a National Geographic kind of look at how it would happen.
Before the book, Mr. Weisman wrote this article on the same subject; it should give you an idea.
- The Major Plays, by Anton Chekhov. <3
- The Diaries of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain. The writing's a little sexist, but I love the sheer joy Eve feels as she explores the newly-made world. Adam's such a fuddy-duddy.
- A Song of Ice and Fire, series, by George R. R. Martin. It's not going to win any Pulitzers, but I'm so invested in the characters now. Sansa Stark for the win.
- The Animal Family, by Randall Jarrell. A wonderfully weird fairy tale. The decorations by Maurice Sendak are a huge bonus.
- And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer. I also reviewed this here.
- The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan. I read this shortly before the breakup. It helped before and after the breakup. I will probably gravitate to this book and anything by Shaun Tan whenever I feel really sad. If someone you know is sad, give them this book.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. I'd heard about this book on and off for several years, but I'll admit, I only finally picked it up after I'd read that Emma Watson had been cast as the girl. I know. Bad reader, bad, bad. But the book was good, good.
- Blankets, by Craig Thompson. Relatable and sweet.
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. If someone had told me ten years ago that neurology was where it's at, I'd be in med school right now. Instead, I have to content myself with the tales of Oliver Sacks.
- Love Wins, by Rob Bell. Not very well-written, but still moving and thoughtful. It was nice to feel someone within the evangelical establishment (well, as far in as the liberal upstart Mr. Bell got, anyway) reaching out to doubters like me.
- Clockwork, by Philip Pullman. At once chilling and sweet, like several Grimms' tales woven together.
- Gentlemen of the Road, by Michael Chabon. Having read #15 put me in the mood for something like this, and Mr. Chabon did not disappoint. There's historical interest as well as solid swashbuckling.
It was also the first Chabon book I ever read, but the self-stroking afterword has made me hesitant to read any other.
- Over to You, by Roald Dahl. Exquisite stories about being in the Royal Air Force during WWII. Also, madness.
- The History of Luminous Motion, by Scott Bradfield. The macabre, lyrical, at times drug-addled bildungsroman of a frighteningly precocious eight-year-old sociopath. Hacksaws are involved.
- Delirium's Party, A Little Endless Storybook, by Jill Thompson. A little too cutesie, but I loved the illustrations.