Here is a list of books that had some sort of impact on me in 2011:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Delirium would probably be my “book of the year”. This isn’t because I think it’s the best book ever but simply because I loved it. I loved it so much that I recommended it to everyone for the first part of 2011. It’s this year’s The Hunger Games (in terms of my enthusiasm for it, not plot similarities). Although The Hunger Games is the root of my obsession with YA dystopia, Delirium fuelled it.
“Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: it kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.”
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray is a book that always comes to mind when people ask “What’s the best book you’ve read this year?”. It can be such a difficult question to answer because I have to picture 100+ books all floating around in space, and then individually analyse each one (“Did I like that more than that?”), which results in a blank look on my face and people assume I’m not really a book lover at all. But Between Shades of Gray is one I can point to straight away. It’s shocking, horrifying, and emotional. It’s about an historical event that I had no idea occurred, but will now never forget.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale was my second Atwood encounter. I thought that this novel was brilliant. I loved everything about it and it’s one of those books that I know I’ll get even more out of when I reread it. If you’re a fan of dystopia, you need to read this book as it’s the inspiration behind many. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
I only read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares this month. I loved the witty characters, the intelligence, the bookish romance. It made me want to pack my bags and fly to America. Do not be fooled into thinking it’s purely a fun Christmas read.
“Luckily, I always travel with a book, just in case I have to wait on line for Santa, or some such inconvenience”
Paper Towns by John Green
I was extremely apprehensive about reading Paper Towns because 1) it’s John Green, and 2) it’s young adult contemporary. I was worried that I’d be attacked by murderous nerdfighters if I ended up not enjoying it. I also hadn’t had good experiences with contemporary novels in the past. Paper Towns ended up being the main reason why I no longer dismiss contemporary fiction and some have even become my favourite books of the year (for example, see above!).
“I’m not saying that everything is survivable. Just that everything except the last thing is.”
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I was also prejudiced against children’s fiction, dismissing it as “no longer for me”. A Monster Calls showed me that this was completely irrational as many children’s novels (or “middle grade” to you Americans) are wonderful, refreshing, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I particularly enjoyed the huge part that the illustrations play in the book. It’s a beautiful novel and I’m glad that I own it.
“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock
The Book of Lies provides fascinating insight into what it’s like living in both present day Guernsey and past, throughout the German Occupation (during World War II and also after the allies had won) and how the Channel Islands were perceived by other nations. This novel taught me not to dismiss a book because of negative reviews. I nearly did not read it and what a great shame that would’ve been. I thoroughly enjoyed both Cat and Charlie’s stories, and how they interconnected.
If you’re wondering, here are the other books that I gave 5 star ratings to: Life As We Knew It, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (reread), Oryx and Crake, Unwind, One Day, House Rules, The Maze Runner, Sister, Birthmarked, Never Let Me Go, Divergent, Looking for Alaska, Dark Inside, Tankborn, Eight Keys, and Ashfall.