Last year at this time I could not come up with ten favorite non-YA books to share. I am the Teen Librarian, so it is my job to read all those fun YA books, but 1. I also talk to adults all day and 2. even I need a break from all the teenaged drama sometimes. I made a conscious effort in 2011 to broaden my reading horizons. My efforts paid off and this year I had to make cuts to my favorites list! I had a great time reading and listening to all the books my list and I think it contains a nice bit of variety. So, without further blabbering, here are just 11 of my favorite books read in 2011:
1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin was originally published in 1996 but the series got a lot of attention this year with the HBO series and the release of the fifth book in the series. I had never even heard of this epic fantasy until this year. It came recommended by a number of my coworkers (ok, fine, I succumbed to peer pressure) and I am thrilled that I finally took the plunge and read outside of my comfort zone. I am hooked. I can’t wait for a quiet, snowy day to settle in to book 2 of the series.
2. A Gentleman of Fortune, or the suspicions of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean is the second mystery starring amateur sleuth, Dido Kent. In a time when women were considered the fairer sex, and not intellectual equals to men, Miss Kent takes advantage of her near invisibility to make sense of the untimely death of an elderly neighbor. Full of historical details, a complex mystery, and a sharp-as-a-tack heroine, this series is a must-read for Regency lovers.
3. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward was a much-needed Lisa Lutz fix while waiting for more of her Spellman Files (Trail of the Spellmans is coming in early 2012). The story itself often borders on ridiculous as Lutz and Hayward seem to go out of their way to muddy the plot for each other. The real treasure is found between chapters in the form of the correspondence between the two authors who at one point in time were a couple.
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is another book that I did not snatch up right away when in came out. I wish I had. It turned out that I had to wait a long time to finally get a turn with the audiobook version, but it was well worth the wait. Now I have to wait my turn for the movie because I somehow missed it in the theater.
5. A Red Herring Without Mustard and I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley are the third and fourth books in the Flavia de Luce series. How lucky to get two in one year! This is one of my favorite series to listen to because the reader Jayne Entwistle so perfectly captures the precocious spirit of the young chemist and poison-lover Flavia. I love to recommend these charming mysteries set in 1950s England. We’re going to just go ahead and count this as one entry.
6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a fascinating piece of nonfiction. In addition to telling the heartbreaking and tragic story of Henrietta Lacks and her amazing cancer cells, this books also delves into the issues of human experimentation and medical ethics. This book was by far one of the most thought-provoking books I read this year. I highly recommend the audiobook version.
7. The Paris Wife Paula McLain was a wonderful surprise for me. I don’t usually choose historical fiction and I am not very interested in Ernest Hemingway, but after having opportunity to hear the author speak I felt compelled to run home and immediately start reading my autographed copy. I couldn’t help myself; I fell in love with Hadley Richardson and her story.
8. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen is another charming story for the author of Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. These books are wonderful on audio, and The Peach Keeper is no exception. Southern charm, romance, memorable characters, family secrets, and a hint of magic come together another for your reading/listening pleasure.
9. The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth is a standalone sequel to Blood Oath starring Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who has been bound to serve and protect the president since Andrew Jackson’s administration. This fast-paced book is full of action, monsters, conspiracies, and blood and gore. This is a political thriller with a paranormal twist. It won’t appeal to everyone, but I love this series and can’t wait for more. Bronson Pinchot narrates the audiobooks and he is fabulous.
10. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht is a stunning debut novel. I enjoyed the unique Eastern European setting and the blend of local folklore, family drama, historical fiction, and a touch of magical realism.
11. Fables by Bill Willingham is an ongoing comic book series that has been compiled in graphic novel format for my reading pleasure. Fables follows the lives of both well and lesser-known characters from fairy tales as they live in exile after their lands were conquered by an unknown Adversary. After centuries of peace, Fabletown has found itself in the midst of political change and upheaval. The series is clever and fresh with beautiful color illustrations. These are fairy tales all grown up.
If feels weird to not have any YA books on this list. I may have to make a second YA-only list.