My Favorite Books of 2011

1 - 3. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I was a little late to this series, which I'm blaming on the fact that I read the description for the first book and swore I wouldn't like them. I think my exact words were, "I'm just not into this kind of book." After noticing that the first was $5 in the Kindle store, I finally caved. It actually sat on my Kindle for a few months before I started reading it (confession: I have a terrible habit of buying a book and not reading it for months). Then, when I finally started, I was addicted. I mean, seriously. I read all three books in three days. I won't waste my time trying to convince you that they're awesome - just trust me. I loved these books!

I was actually more than a little late to this series. I never read these books until this year. When I married the handsome one, he finally convinced me to watch the movies (I had never seen those either). I really enjoyed the movies and knew that I had to start the books. Why? Because the book is ALWAYS better than the movie! Sure enough, I have loved reading these books. The first five are the only ones that made the list this year because that's all I've read so far. I probably don't need to tell you to read these because chances are you've already read every single one many times over. I'm late to this cultural phenomenon, but better late than never!

9. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis & Beth Clark
Oh, this book. I started reading this on an airplane when I headed to Chicago, and I could not put it down. I also had to catch myself several times because I had the "I have tears in my eyes but I can't cry because I'm in public" dilemma. This is the story of Katie Davis, who has a desire to make a difference in the world. She forsakes her comfortable life here in the US, moves to Uganda and lives her calling. This book is probably not for everyone, but I was in love. I was almost in tears several times, which rarely happens for me. I walked away from this book convicted and with a new heart for serving others.

10. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Cornelia Brown's life is changed forever when Martin Grace walks into the Philadelphia coffee shop she manages. Little does she know, it is only a sign of things to come. I absolutely adored this book. The author is an award-winning poet, and the words just flow so beautifully on the pages of this novel. With numerous references to classic movies and Anne of Green Gables, I was 100% sold on this novel. This book had mixed reviews, so you may not share my love, but it definitely makes my list of best books I read this year.

11. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Josey Cirrini is a sorry excuse for a Southern belle. With a stockpile of sweets hidden in her closet, she lives in the shadow of her mother's demands. Then, she finds Della Lee Baker hidden in her room, and her world slowly starts to expand. I loved this book's blend of food and magic. This sweet story is one you'll want to savor, but chances are you'll devour it quickly. I read Allen's three other books this year, all equally wonderful, but this made the list because it was my absolute favorite.

12. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer is the author of over fifty books, best known for her historical romances set in the Regency period. This is the only Heyer novel I've read, and I absolutely loved it. I am obsessed with all things Jane Austen, and I think my love for this book stems from the fact that it reminded me of Austen.  After I finished this book, I learned that it was voted one of the 400 best novels to come out of the 20th century (chosen to represent the best of Heyer's work). Sounds like I picked a good book! Sophy was a delightful heroine, and I spent most of the book laughing at her antics and schemes.

13. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I'm obviously late to this book, too. I hate to say it, but this was another book I didn't want to read because the circus aspect turned me off. Another confession: I only wanted to read it after I saw the preview for the movie. Thankfully, I finished the book before the movie came out and can say with certainty that the book was better. You've probably read this book (who hasn't?), but I highly recommend it if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it.

14. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
I started reading this book in Target's book section one day, curious about whether I'd find Mindy's memoir funny. I had just finished Tina Fey's Bossypants and was feeling slightly let down. When I laughed, out loud, in the middle of Target, I knew this had a good shot of winning me over. Sure enough, I was giggling the whole way through this collection of essays. Mindy is charming, adorable and spot-on with her observations. What are you waiting for? Go read this book!

15. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
I'm getting really embarrassed about the number of books on this list that have been out for ages. I had only heard a little bit about this book until my cousin recommended it to me. She told me I wouldn't be able to put it down. Well, she was right. The story of Jeanette's odd upbringing was fascinating. I think my favorite thing about this book was the tone with which Jeanette described her childhood. Rather than play the victim or throw her parents under the bus, Jeanette remembers her childhood with love. She finds the good things in the horrible situations, and I respected her for that. While I didn't "love" this book, it still makes my list of best books I read this year.

Now I want to hear from you! What was the best book you read this year?

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