To begin with:
Not only was this book well-written, but it was humorous and the characters were fun to get to know. Patricia C. Wrede is fantastic. I don't know much about the second author (Carloline Stevermer) but her character was equally enjoyable.
Why I Picked This Book: It changed my life. I now have three (and kinda' a fourth) story that I am writing in the way they did. By exchanging letters back and forth. Even if these books never get published it is a fantastic way to write. It hones your skills, gives you an insane amount of thrilling expectation, and you have an opportunity to work with authors in a fantastically fun way. Which reminds me. I need to write my turn for three of them. *headdesk*
Why I Chose This Book: This book opened my mind to the possibility of Philology and Classical Studies, something I probably wouldn't have taken as seriously if I hadn't read this book. It was encouraging to me not just in that aspect, but also because it was a well-written non-fiction book that I could actually finish. This does not happen very often. This book also made me feel smart because there was a misprint saying that Hera was the goddess of love, when everyone knows it is truly Aphrodite. ;)
With this tale every chapter was from the perspective of a different character, with only a few chapters repeating a perspective. While this sounds like it could be annoying, it was done exceedingly well.
Why I Picked It: This story was so very different. I was simply researching Candlewick Publishing (in case I wanted to intern there) and I came across a book that I will always remember. It's not necessarily happy, but it's touching. Also, it reminded me that sometimes I need to read out of my comfort zone, because there are wonderfully good books that aren't necessarily hard-core fantasy. Boy did I learn that this year.
Matisse on the Loose by Georgia Bragg, Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis, The Witch's Guide to Cooking With Children by Keith McGowan, were all books I stumbled across while agent hunting. I enjoyed all three of them immensely and am so glad I found them. I never would have if I hadn't been researching agents. I will love these books forever. Oh! And I found this particular batch of books in connection with Carrie Jones Need, another lovely book. (I am currently reading the third in the series, Entice.) I totally want to meet her some day.
Ahem. Anyway. I am being professional in this post so moving on...
This book is extremely weird and I will caution you with this: If you pick up this book you probably will question yourself about why in heaven's name are you reading it? It is not until the end of the first chapter that you will (quite possibly) scream "What?!" and continue on in fervor. Or the whole time you will repeat, "This is Weird, this is Weird," but will be unable to stop reading. Or you will hate it entirely. Either way, this book was so much fun. One I would definitely read again.
Why This Book: This, among others (such as Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson, Poltergoose by Michael Lawrence, and Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell) reminded me that you can write a book with silly, sometimes nearly unbelievable characters, and still have a good book that people will read and love.
If you knew anything about certain books of mine, you would understand how reassuring this is for me.
I picked up Crank in the middle of the YA section in Borders and sat down, read the entire thing, and cried. So different from what I normally read. This and Speak by Laurie Halse Paulsen has inspired me to write WYC, an almost non-fantasy book dealing with issues I've always thought should be touched upon, but haven't had a book I could do it in. (This is the book that nearly drove me suicidal by empathizing too much with my character). It is not a book to be quickly forgotten, I can tell you that.
First of all: I love Shaun Tan.
Second of all: This book is genius. It's a visual text that tells a story with no words. Something that is so very difficult to do. But SHaun Tan does it masterfully. And the artwork is magnificent. I wanted to just stare at the pictures all day, they were so complex.
Third of All: This book (and Varmints by Hellen Ward and Marc Craste) were among the first that I read that use pictures in large part to tell the story. I love when this idea is used to its full affect. When art and words go hand in hand seamlessly to tell a story. I think sometimes the idea of mixing the two art-forms is poo-pooed or looked down upon. I do not think it should be at all.
I had read a review about this book on someone's blog at some point or another (don't remember who or when or what) and they said they loved it, and was gushing over it. For whatever reason I was not convinced. I don't know why, but I wasn't. I was sure I hated the book and would never read it. In order to prove myself correct of this I picked it up in Borders to read the first paragraph.
Why I Chose This Book: I did not hate it. I sat down in the back and read it all and am desperate to own it. This book blew my mind. It was so well told. The characters were real. The plot was one that I should've guessed, but didn't. I will love this story forever. It is one I am planning on reading a second time, because I know I will get more out of it the second time round, which is not a common thing.
It appears I still have about seven other books I want to talk about, so I will end this post here and continue on later.
Do any of you have books that meant a lot to you this past year? What were some of them? Why did you love them? I would love to know!