As promised, and in time for your holiday gifting needs, here is a quick list of some of my favorite books. Not all of these were published in 2011, so many of these could be found in budget-friendly paperback versions.Since this is the season of sharing, send me lists of your favorite books, too. My New Year's resolution is to read more, and I'll need all the suggestions I can get!
(in no particular order)
The Eight, by Katherine Neville ― Forget Dan Brown, this book from 1988 crackles with intrigue, with a woman in search of hidden chess pieces that give the players unbelievable power.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel ― Thomas Cromwell walked a tightrope of power in the 1520s between Henry VIII and everyone who wanted Cromwell's position and power. This incredible book tells Cromwell's story in an entirely fresh way.
The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield ― A young woman is invited to the atmospheric and gloomy Yorkshire countryside to interview a famous, but reclusive, author. A dark and Gothic tale ensues.
Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman ― This was my pick for the Man Booker Prize, with a captivating story of a young boy trying to navigate a violent life. Read my full review here.
Deception on His Mind, by Elizabeth George ― My favorite of the outstanding series of Detective Inspector Lynley mysteries by George, this edition focuses on Lynley's partner, Detective Sergeant Havers, who finds herself tangled up in tricky relationships and race issues while trying to solve the murder of a young woman.
The Wave, by Susan Casey ― The spellbinding story of massive rogue waves, the super-surfers who chase them, the scientists that study them, and the ships that battle them.
The Sisters, by Mary S. Lovell ― A duchess, a Communist, a fascist, an obsessive, and a novelist...those are the eccentric Mitford sisters who blazed their own paths through British society in the early 20th century.
In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson ― Larson has a true knack for telling a historical tale. In this book, he tackles the story of William Dodd, the mild-mannered U.S. ambassador to Germany in the early days of the Third Reich. See my earlier review here.
Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts ― Although their husbands and sons garnered most of the glory, the women behind the scenes were notable in their own right. They ran businesses and farms while their husbands formed a new country, fended off the Redcoats in their own homes, and influenced the ideas and politics of the young United States.
The Perfect Summer, by Juliet Nicolson ― In 1911, England had a new king, the aristocratic set was on a non-stop whirlwind of parties, and the summer was suffused with a happy glow. Then the cracks began to appear as the summer heat took a sinister turn and the world began to spin out of control. This amazing book is told from the diaries and letters of people who lived on the cusp of WWI.
Teen Books You Need to Read
Radioactive, by Lauren Redniss ― This is an illustrated biography of Marie Curie, the first person to win two Nobel prizes for her work on radioactivity. Rather than just focusing on the science, Redniss brings Marie herself to life in a gorgeously detailed book.
Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater ― Every November, a group of youths ride the dangerous water horses in a race that is often to the death. When a girl enters for the first time to save her family, the game takes a new twist.
Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins ― In the first book of a trilogy, the government maintains tight control by demanding a harsh tribute of two children chosen by lottery from each territory who will fight in a televised gladiator game. Read my full review here.
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks ― I realize that a book about the plague could be a downer, but this book is ultimately uplifting as a young girl deals with the disintegration of her village when the plague hits in 1666.
Belle Prater's Boy, by Ruth White ― In a Virginia coal town in 1953, Belle Prater disappears. Her niece Gypsy is determined to discover what happened to Belle. As she digs deeper into family secrets with the help of Belle's son Woodrow, Gypsy also begins to deal with the loss of her own parent.