I read a ton of books in 2011. I reviewed 59 of them, and I probably read at least 10 that I didn't review. If you figure an average of 5 hours per book, that comes to a whopping 345 hours—or just more than 14 days! When you read as much as I do, it's hard to remember which books you liked the most. So I've compiled a list of my favorite reads of 2011 in several different categories (some are a bit contrived so that I can include more books). If I reviewed the book, I've included a link. Note that these are books that I read in 2011—they may have been published earlier.
Heiress by Susan May Warren (review)—This is my favorite of all of Susan May Warren's books, which is saying something, since I've enjoyed most of her work. I love how real the characters seem, and it's a great mix of high society and the Wild West. (Sounds strange, I know, but Warren makes it work!)
Contemporary (non-Romance) Fiction
The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt (review)—This is the story of three sisters who gather to go through their deceased grandmother's things. The Fine Art of Insincerity certainly isn't "fluff"—and the book caused me to think about the way I relate to my sisters.
The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus (review)—Anyone who's tired of reading about 22-year-old heroines should check out Kaye Dacus's books. She writes about real women. Women who wear a size 14. Women who didn't get married straight out of college. Women who live their lives, rather than waiting around for the "perfect" man. The Art of Romance is the first Dacus book I read, but it won't be the last!
Forbidden by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee (review)—Ted Dekker is a masterful fantasy writer. (His crime novels? I could do without those.) The Circle series (and all the other connected books), Immanuel's Veins, and now The Books of Mortals feature well-constructed worlds that sweep the reader into them. Forbidden, the first in The Books of Mortals, is my favorite Dekker book since Black—it's that good!
Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones (review)—The time I spent reading Save the Date was probably the most fun I had reading all year! One of those implausible yet hilarious stories, Save the Date is pure fluff and pure enjoyment.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress—This is the only book on the list I haven't reviewed (though I may still get around to it). It's a series of short stories inspired by Jane Austen's books. Not all of the stories are winners—"Waiting," a continuation of Persuasion, just about put me to sleep—but most are lighthearted and fun.
Growing up Amish by Ira Wagler (review)—Ira Wagler's memoir chronicling his life in and journey out of the Amish church is an incredibly fascinating look at the Amish faith.
Beside Still Waters (review) and Along Wooded Paths (review) by Tricia Goyer—In a sea of Amish fiction, Goyer's Big Sky series stands out. First of all, it doesn't idealize the Amish lifestyle. Instead, it features real characters grappling with issues of faith. I can't wait to read the third book this spring!
Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann (review)—A character-driven mystery featuring a protagonist with an eidetic memory. Very interesting and quite suspenseful.
Book I Talked about Most
Longing by Karen Kingsbury (review)—I talked about this book so much because it made me so mad! And now I'm scared to read the final book in this series, Loving, because I just know I'll be really upset if Bailey & Cody don't end up together. Never before have I had such strong feelings for book characters!
The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson (review)—I'm not even sure how to describe this book, other than to say that it is art in words. It is well worth your time.
Forsaken Kingdom: City of Prophecy by Peter Dudek (review)—In my time as a book blogger, I have read some absolute drek that is self-published. City of Prophecy is not one of those books. If you just picked it up and started reading, you would have no idea it hadn't come out of a traditional publishing house. I really enjoyed this story, and I hope to be able to read the second book in the series soon!
Favorite Book of 2011
Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin (review)—A World War II story with a timely subplot, Blue Skies Tomorrow is absolutely captivating. I completely devoured the book, and I look forward to reading more books by Sundin!
Any thoughts on my picks? What were your favorite books of 2011?