With 133 books under my belt this year, here's my "cream of the crop" listed in no particular order.
Inkheart – Cornelia Funke. With the film version out now, I could be accused of leaping onto a bandwagon but back in January I genuinely enjoyed this book. Quite possibly because at its heart it was so clearly a book about books and that's always a winner with Booklings!
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. A potentially controversial entry into this list as it's clear that this is a book that elicits very divided opinions from readers. For me, this is a refreshingly different take on life in Germany during WW2 and it's still very clear in my mind nine months later.
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson. My edition is a whopping 1.3kg but well worth the effort. Alternating between WW2 and the present this book is a fantastic read that I really enjoyed. I'm hoarding his Baroque Cycle for another long holiday abroad which is taking quite a lot of willpower...
Plainsong - Kent Haruf. An absolutely beautiful and deceptively simple book that I suspect will become one of those classic reads that I can enjoy over and over again. If I don't get Eventide for Christmas I shall break the rules and buy a copy myself as reading the pair together would be wonderful.
What Was Lost - Catherine O'Flynn. This impressive debut novel is a wonderful, funny, sad and engaging story about a young girl who goes missing. Read it!
Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi. Discovering a "new" Sci-Fi author who writes cracking plots in a well imagined, convincing future is always a joy. Scalzi's books are great fun and I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone with the slightest interest in Sci-Fi.
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman. A charming (really!) story mostly set in a Graveyard and starting with the murder of the lead character's whole family. Gaiman really nailed this book and I'm glad that I've seen it featuring on lots of Top Ten lists for 2008. He's one of my favourite authors and I can't wait for Coraline next year!
Nation - Terry Pratchett. Set in an alternate 19th century this is a subtle and extremely well written work that, whilst featuring Pratchett's usual gentle humour, is a thought-provoking story of ordinary people dealing with getting back to normal following a huge and devastating tidal wave.
A Mercy - Toni Morrison. I was honoured to see Toni Morrison read from, and talk about, this book before I read it and that experience really opened my eyes to the lyricism in the text. An intelligent and moving book dealing with the themes of religion race, gender, poverty and (or course) slavery in the context of the early years of America.
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow. This is a book that opened my eyes and has turned me into an individual who can't stop pointing out the erosion of our civil liberties in the name of public safety to anyone who will listen. This has led to a couple heated pub debates and I believe that can only be a good thing! On top of that, an engrossing and fast paced adventure story too. A must read.
Black Boxes - Caroline Smailes. A compelling pair of voices narrate this book about a woman's descent into depression and the impact it has on her children. A beautiful and convincingly written work that deserves far more exposure than it seems to be getting.
Speaking of Love - Angela Young. A novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so, this is a beautifully written book that is brimming with empathy for its three main characters.
It's been a fabulous year of reading and I look forward to next year when I will have More Book Shelves. Wow...