These are my picks (in no particular order) for the best books I read in 2011:
"The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins. This could have easily been three picks, but I read a lot of great books this year. I really didn't think I was going to like these, but like the rest of the world, discovered they're hard to put down. A great gift recommendation for the reader in your life from ages 10 to 100. Not kidding.
"Half-broke Horse" by Jeanette Walls. I love Jeanette Walls. "The Glass Castle" is one of my favorite books of all time, and this one measured up quite nicely. Again, it's one of those books that you read the back and wonder how this could be something you'd be interested in, but surprise yourself. It's fantastic.
"The Immortal Life on Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. For those nonfiction readers out there, this is an absolute must. I love the writing as well as the story. The reporter in me can really appreciate the great lengths Skloot went to get the entire story told.
"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. Embarrassingly, I'd never read this book before. But you know what? There's a reason it's a classic. It's a really incredible love story with a lot of social meanings for women at the time woven throughout.
"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain. I read this shortly before we went to Paris, and it made exploring the Latin Quarter all that more exciting. A seriously fantastic fiction read that follows the real letters and correspondence of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. I've recommended this so many times in the past few months.
"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. This, hands down, wins as my favorite book of the year. The first chapter grabbed me, but for some people it took a few more pages. Everyone I've recommended this to has come back thanking me. So for that history buff or nonfiction lover, GET THEM THIS BOOK.
"What is the What" by Dave Eggers. Before starting this I had read "The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius" by Eggers and hadn't really liked it. But "What is the What" was one of those books that changed my way of thinking forever. It's really heartbreaking but heartwarming book.
"Zeitoun" by Dave Eggers. I read this after "What is the What" because I hadn't had enough Dave Eggers. Another fantastic read.
"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova. This is a quick fiction read, but something anyone who has been touched by Alzheimer's or dementia should pick up.
"Room" by Emma Donoghue. This is more proof not to judge a book by its cover. I kinda thought this would be "too mommy" of a book for me, but it's fantastic. Moms, daughters, monkeys and elephants will all love this book equally.
My goal for 2012 is to get started on this list of the 1,001 books you should read before you die. I can't wait.
What are you reading? This is what I'm reading.