favorite children's picture book:
|The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket|
This book is hilarious... and educational! The reader learns about the different parts of an orchestra, lots of different instruments, is introduced to many composers (who are also, alas, dead) and narrates the difficulties of an inspector attempting to conduct a murder investigation in the middle of it all. My 2-year-old son gave The Composer Is Dead to his 2-year-old cousin for Christmas (they have such good taste :) and I think he may have to borrow it so that we... *ahem*....he can actually read it cover to cover and listen to the CD without Mommy grabbing it and wrapping it in paper...
favorite children's chapter book
|Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary|
I am so glad I rediscovered Beverly Cleary this year. I remember loving her books when I was little; her characters always felt so real and relatable. Oddly enough, my enjoyment seems to have only increased since having a child of my own. I read a few of hers this year and my favorite is Henry Huggins, the story of a rather serious, extremely accident prone little boy who craves excitement. It is a charming little read, perfect for reading aloud to a rather serious, extremely accident prone 2-year-old little boy :)
favorite children's/YA series
|Redwall Series by Brian Jacques|
|A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket|
favorite YA book
|Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs|
I loved this book. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but for me, it was a fun, fast read with more originality and consistency than you typically see in recently published YA novels. I love the quirky addition of vintage photographs sprinkled throughout the volume, which added to the level of creepiness as well. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ends with an obvious set-up for at least a sequel, though it will probably turn into a several book series. And I am completely okay with this :)
|Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon|
I read several plays this year including Biloxi Blues (obviously), A Streetcar Named Desire, Our Town (a re-read), and Death of a Salesman. I greatly enjoyed all of them, though for some reason Biloxi Blues sticks out to me as the one I enjoyed the most. Maybe it's because it reminds me of my dad who is a veteran and was a bit wild back in his heyday, most of which he won't even tell me about (he's probably doing me a favor, ha); it brings back fun memories of a drill sergeant I encountered a few years ago; it was absolutely hilarious; and it had an extremely poignant ending. Now, don't be misled because this piece is included in a list alongside Redwall and Beverly Cleary. It is most certainly not family friendly. There is sexual content and a lot of strong language. However, if you're an adult and not too terribly worried about these things, or if you've ever met an in-the-flesh drill sergeant and are already aware of their flavorful bedside manner, it is definitely worth reading.
favorite contemporary adult fiction book
|Wicked by Gregory Maguire|
I don't know what it is about this book that I like so much because in all honesty the writing is not stellar and there are gaps in the plot that can be frustrating. However, Wicked is such an honest book and what I would consider a social commentary. I really like what Gregory Maguire is trying to do through this series and can't wait to read the fourth and final installment, Out of Oz. The second and third books (Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men respectively) are just so-so though still worth reading if you are a big fan of Wicked. I suppose I'm also a little biased because I can't help but really like Gregory Maguire. I don't know what it is about him but he seems so down-to-earth and approachable. I am eager to find out what other projects he has in the works now that the Wicked Years series is concluded.
|My Antonia by Willa Cather|
|Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen|
Favorite number two is My Antonia, of course, and I love this book so much I can't say enough good things about it. It is a beautiful story that is beautifully written, chronicling the life of a Bohemian girl from around age six on into her forties. To be fully appreciated the reader has to be ready to read this book, really want to read it, and allow him or herself to be fully immersed in it. I really want my own copy of this book so that I can make notes in the margins and underline particularly poignant passages. It is a book that gives the reader a feeling of peace and contentment. I look forward to reading it again.
I'd love to hear what you think of any of these books as well as what your favorites from 2011 are, so please feel free to leave a comment below! I hope this new year is wonderful for you and you find the time to read even more books than last year :) Happy reading and Happy New Year!