by Kate Morton
This book took me forever to read, because I picked it up at a really crazy time. I went out of town for a week, and we had Girlchild here. I was running around trying to get ready for Christmas and working on a book project. Despite all that, I enjoyed this book. The story put me in a Rebecca-like mood. The old castle brought Manderly to mind. If you love a grand Gothic tale, this book is for you.
The Best Essays of G. K. Chesterton
Wow. Wow. Wow. I have seen Chesterton quoted in all sorts of places for as far back as I can remember reading. Why had I never read him before this year? I have no idea. Corey heard a Chesterton scholar speak at his seminary, and he brought two books home for me. He said he just thought I would like the writer, and oh boy did I. I read this book in chunks over the year, savoring the essays. Chesterton is quite likely the most brilliant man who ever lived. He and C. S. Lewis are now tied for my favorite dead Brits. Oh, to have sat at a table with those men. That is something that makes me look forward to Heaven. You all can have your crowns and mansions and streets of gold. I just want a hearty meal at a little table with Chesterton and Lewis for company, thank you very much.
by Marilynne Robinson
Tupelo read Gilead together as a town, which I think is really cool. I had already read Gilead a few years back, and so had my book group. To join in the town-wide read, we decided on Home. Same characters, different story. I had forgotten how elegantly Marilynne spins a tale. I probably highlighted more that half of this book. Her wording... it's simply beautiful. She made me love Jack despite himself, and I appreciate that. I appreciate that, because there are plenty of people like Jack in real life, people we love even when loving them hurts and makes our life a mess. We love them because of who they are inside, because of the person we see when they stand in their best light. Home is a love letter to the hard to love and impossible not to love people in our lives.
by Joshilyn Jackson
I read everything Joshilyn writes and have since her first book. We were once in the same writer's group and now we share an agent. Sometimes, I remember that we share an agent and get butterflies in my tummy. Joss is brilliant, irreverent, funny, and the gritty kind of real that punches you in the gut. Pretty is my favorite of all her books, and the others were hard to beat. If you're interested, here is the post I wrote after reading Pretty, at the start of 2012: Twinkies and Toilet Paper (or Closing the Cover on the Best Kind of Book).
by Lydia Netzer
I picked this up as a review book from the Amazon Vine program. I selected it based on Joshilyn's recommendation, and I didn't regret it at all. I'd say it easily makes the Top 5 for all of the books I read in 2012. I simply adored every page of it. Also, if you do audio books, Joshilyn reads for this one, and I have heard her read. She's good. I will be watching for Lydia's next book. I can't wait to read more by her. And here is my original post for this book: Wanna Shine Shine Shine?
by Jodi Picoult
I read everything Jodi writes. I wrote her an email, years ago, and she replied. I love when authors are real people. When I first read Lone Wolf (while lying on a beach in Florida), I wasn't 100% in love with it. However, as the year went on, I found myself liking it more and more in retrospect. Especially when I took Haydn with some friends to see real wolves. We spent hours there, talking to the couple who care for the wolf pack, and I mentioned this book. It led to a lovely conversation, which I wrote about HERE.
by Chris Cleave
This is another book I snagged in advance of publication. I loved Little Bee, so I was excited to read Gold, but also worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. It did. And then some. I would rank this one in the top 5 as well, I believe. Chris gets metaphor, and metaphor is my favorite literary device. In this story, "gold" is the overarching metaphor, and it is a brilliant one.
by Tupelo Hassman
I won my lovely hardback copy on Twitter, and I was inspired by the way she broke the novel into such tiny bits and pieces. I was, at that time, struggling with how to organize my Tornado book, and I tried out her style. It helped me a LOT. The book isn't in those tiny sections anymore, but writing it that way helped me isolate the important scenes and develop them. I will be forever grateful to Tupelo and her gorgeous debut novel. Warning, however, I know some of you do not read books where children are hurt and misused. If that's you, skip this one.
by Lisa Samson
I am not a fan of most Christian fiction (Christian is a noun, not an adjective), but I do like Lisa Samson. I have read a handful of her books and liked most of them. This one was wonderful. I loved Mary Margaret and loved the boy she loved. I can relate to the whole loving the bad boy thing, and I really appreciated her faith and how she loved God and others, even when it was a struggle.
by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
I was raised Baptist (primitive, independent, and southern), and I am from the hills of Eastern Kentucky. I related to a lot of Elizabeth's life and I learned from it as well. Also, I laughed my rear end off. You can't help but laugh when you read this book. It was a lot of fun.
Also, my Top Ten in Kid-Lit and YA can be found HERE.