I won’t even dare try to rank books I read this year into a Top Anything list. I’m pretty sure I went through a lot, between blog tours, the library, and those random used bookstore/hey-I-got-a-Borders-coupon! finds. (My to-read pile is even scarier this year! and yes, it’s a literal pile.)

So here are just a few standouts from random categories. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Favorite Non-fiction Debut: Rachel Held Evans – Evolving in Monkey Town

I love Rachel’s blog, and was happy to be part of the blog tour for her first book, a memoir about navigating faith and doubt in the heart of the Bible Belt. Smart, funny, articulate, and moving in its honesty. From my review: “the “evolving” in the title is less about big bangs and monkeys and more about faith evolution, that sometimes, in order for faith to survive life’s harsh environments, it has to evolve not through having the answers, but through asking questions.”


Favorite Fiction Debut: A.S. Peterson – The Fiddler’s Gun

I’ve never been one to seek out historical fiction, but well…. it’s a Rabbit Room author! And they’ve never steered me wrong, so I decided to give it a try. (besides, look at that gorgeous cover! You totally want to read it now.) Set during the American Revolution, A.S. “Pete” Peterson’s debut is not only a fun adventure tale, but, at its core, a beautiful story of redemption. I found myself stunned at the ending and ready to hear more of Fin’s story. In fact, the sequel The Fiddler’s Green is next on my to-read stack, and I’m eager to finish my darn library books so I can dive in. :)

Scariest/Most Thought-Provoking YA: Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this creepy, engaging dystopian tale? A story that left me thinking long after the last page was turned, the most disturbing aspect of this book was the emotionally distanced writing style that left me worried that I wasn’t more disturbed. (I explain more in-depth in my review here.)

Guiltiest Pleasure: Maggie Stiefvater – Shiver

I know, I know… it’s Twilight without the vampires and I should hate it on principle. I’m sorry. I picked this up because the cover was pretty and I’m a sucker for werewolf action, even though I fully expected it to suck. But surprise surprise, it didn’t suck… that much. :) The best moments of this paranormal romance in the cold woods of Minnesota are haunting and poetic, and speak to that inner emo kid that lives in all of us. (wait… you don’t have an inner emo kid? uh oh.)


New Favorite Author: Frederick Buechner

I read his sermon collection Secrets in the Dark because people I respect rave about him, and I was quickly hooked by his thoughtful, heartfelt, and honest writing style. I’m thoroughly enjoying the anthology/devotional Listening to Your Life this year, and have his novel Godric next in line. (After Fiddler’s Green. I have a lot of reading to do.)

Most Likely to Make Me Cry: Marilynne Robinson – Gilead

Don’t be fooled by the slim size…. this is one dense, beautiful book, overflowing with lovely prose, gentle wisdom, and intriguing characters. Written in the form of letters from a dying pastor to his young son, the journal style story wanders between philosophy and memory, and has to be read in small doses to take it all in. It’s a book you feel more than intellectually understand, if that makes sense. This weighty meditation on life and death is one of my new favorite novels.

Book I Probably Should Have Read in High School: J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye

Is it horrible that I didn’t read this until right after the author’s death? Possibly? But regardless, I missed this in high school, and figured I’d better give it a shot. Though it didn’t change my life the way I hear it often does (probably because I didn’t read it in high school), I loved the dimension and voice in Holden Caulfield, and caught some astonishing glimpses of beauty in the prose. Franny and Zooey is on my list this year, I think.

Proudest Literary Accomplishment: Flannery O’Connor – The Complete Stories

Felt like reading some Southern lit. Up until this point, I’d never read a full author anthology like this, and I honestly don’t know when I will dare try again. But hey, it might’ve helped my literature nerd cred a little bit. :) O’Connor’s Southern gothic style and quirky, twisted characters are haunting, telling, and true. But my head nearly exploded from the effort. (“Revelation,” however, is still one of the best shorts I have ever read. Ever.)

I know there are many more I read, but these stood out the most. Readers… what were some of your favorites this year? Doesn’t have to be a 2010 release… just something that stuck with you this past year.

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