Sunday, January 1, 2012

11 Best Books of 2011

Here they are, in order, from 11th favorite to number 1 favorite, the 11 best books I've read in 2011:

11. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Twilight-esque young adult paranormal romance about werewolves. But surprisingly good. Read my review of it here:

10. Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter books

What’s a Baxter book? Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury wrote 3 separate series about the Baxter family, and then one more series that includes the Baxters. All in all it equals out to 18 books, all of which I read in the last few months of 2011. Wait a minute. Does this mean I am counting 18 different books as one spot in my Top 11? Well yes, actually, it does. At first I tried to narrow it down to one series, and even got as far as picking one writing about it. But then I tried to write about why I picked that particular series over the other 3, and I drew a blank. In my mind, these stories are really like one big long book. So anyway, that’s how spot number 10 became an 18-way tie.

I absolutely loved these books. All the characters were real and genuine, and honestly, after reading 18 books about them, I feel like they are actual people and I know them. I enjoyed these books much more than any of Karen Kingsbury’s stand-alones that I’ve read previously this year. I highly recommend these books to anyone.

If you would like to read the the Baxter books, make sure you start with the Redemption series. For a complete sequential list, check out the About the Baxters FAQ on Karen's website -

9. Legend by Marie Lu

I first started making this list on December 29. I had a three-way tie for spot number 11 and I didn’t know what to do about it. Then, on December 30, I read one last book of the year. Legend, by Marie Lu. This book edged its way up to spot number 9, bumping my 3-way tie down to spot number 12 and effectively solving my problem.

Legend is a young adult dystopian novel that follows the alternating viewpoints of Day, a wanted criminal from the slums, and June, an elite young soldier whose first mission is to track down Day.

Legend made it into the top 11 because it is exciting, dystopian, and extremely well-written. At first I considered putting it higher in the list, but in the end it didn’t make it higher than 9 because it lacked… something. Originality. Wow factor. Mind-blowing new ideas. No fight to the death among teens on reality TV, or operation undergone at age 18 that removes the ability to love. That’s what I love about dystopian, and this one just didn’t have it.

Don’t get me wrong. This book was still really good. It is 9th out of 120, after all. I would definitely recommend it, especially to all you dystopian fans out there.

8. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

1,258 pages of epic fantasy goodness. What’s not to love? And it’s the first in a series too. Check out my review of it here:

7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants is a popular bestseller with a movie so I’m sure you’ve all heard at least a little about it. I was really surprised by how much I liked this book. Read my review here:

6. The Underland Chronicles series by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins? You mean the same Suzanne Collins that wrote The Hunger Games?? Yep, that’s the one!

The Underland Chronicles consist of 5 books about 11-year-old Gregor. One day, Gregor and his sister fall through a hole beneath his laundry room and end up in The Underland, a world filled with talking cockroaches, evil rats, and strange, translucent humans. Gregor just wants to get back home, but he keeps getting caught in the middle of Underland problems and prophecies.

This series was fantastic. I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much since it is geared more toward younger kids and it’s about bats, rats, roaches, and spiders. Yuck. But the books were exciting, thoughtful, funny, and creative. The only complaint I have is that the in the 5th book Collins got back up on her anti-war soapbox and I had horrible flashbacks to Mockingjay. But, we all still love The Hunger Games trilogy despite Mockingjay, right? It’s the same with The Underland Chronicles. The majority of the series is so good that despite book five's flaws it still made it all the way up to number 6 on my list.

5. The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

Top secret all girls boarding school for spies?? Yes please! Think it sounds kind of dumb? Well you’re wrong. I didn’t expect much out of this young adult series at first either, but it ended up winning a spot in my top 11. Read my review here:

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

For some reason I have a really hard time describing this book. So let me just tell you a few things: It’s a book of letters (epistolary novel!), written at the end of World War II. It has a weird name. I almost let my preconceived notions about books of letters and books with weird names keep me from reading this book. But I’m glad I didn’t because it was absolutely wonderful and I would recommend it to all of you.

3. Matched by Ally Condie

Matched is a dystopian young adult book about a world where society chooses everything for you, including your significant other. I actually read this book twice this year; once in January and once again a few months ago in anticipation for the sequel. And rereading it reaffirmed my love for it. Of course I love the dystopian setting, but the great writing is what makes this book stand out to me. Narrator Cassia depicts her world with beautiful imagery and thoughtful perceptions that make it come alive. Read my full review here:

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help is another popular bestseller that you have probably heard of. Suffice it to say that I agree with everyone else on this one: it is really freaking good. If you haven’t read it yet, well what are you waiting for? Seriously, go read it.

And now, drumroll please…


Here it is, my favorite book of the year:

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium takes place in a dystopian future where love considered is a deadly, contagious disease. Thankfully there is a cure, but it can’t be safely administered until you turn 18. 17-year-old Lena can’t wait until she turns 18 and can be cured like everyone else. That is, until she meets a boy, and, you guessed it, begins to fall in love.

I’m not really sure what it is about this book that made me love it so much that it was easily the only contender for spot number 1. Probably a combination of the dystopian world, interesting premise, very real characters, powerful imagery, and beautiful, thoughtful writing.

And here’s some exciting news: Delirium is the start of a trilogy, and the next book, Pandemonium, will be released on February 28! Best book of 2012, perhaps?? We'll just have to wait and see!

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