I love Terry Pratchett. He is laugh-out-loud funny, and at the same time thoughtful and fascinating. If you haven't listened to The Wee Free Men on audio book, I highly recommend it. The book itself is worth reading as well, of course, but the audio book is just extra delightful. The Nation isn't as uproarious as some of Pratchatt's fare, but it's wonderful in its own way. Also it makes another fine audio book.
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Everyone is talking about this book this year, and with reason. I felt like I lived it. A sweet, quiet story in many ways, it's perfectly crafted. Not strictly realism, not really science fiction, it's just a good old fashioned story.
Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt
I was fascinated by this book and how Martine was able to maintain the tone of "tale" all the way through. Not easy to do successfully. While it feels like a traditional tale, it was an untraditional novel, spare and lovely, with a story that keeps you guessing.
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
If you read Hunger Games, I'm sure you've already read Catching Fire, because how could you resist? So really this recommendation is for those who haven't discovered these books yet. Definitely start with Hunger Games. Great for reluctant readers and passionate readers alike. Note that these books are violent, but I don't think they're gratuitous.
Lips Touch, by Laini Taylor
I read this book in ARC so I still haven't seen the illustrations that accompany it, but I understand they add very well to the stories. This book is three novellas, each featuring a kiss as an instrument of power--either of triumph or destruction. Laini is a wordsmith and a story crafter, and her sentences are as compelling as her stories. I was very happy to see this honored as a National Book Award Finalist. Some mature content, but I'd feel comfortable giving this to anyone 13 and up, I think.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
It's made the book club rounds, and with good reason. I was expecting a happy, sweet story, and though there was plenty of happy and sweet, there was also a much darker story underneath. Oh, how I despise war. I though the epistolary format was perfect here, and I left this book feeling as if all the characters were my friends. This will be a wonderful gifting book. Though written for adults, older teens will likely enjoy this as well.
The Way He Lived, by Emily Wing Smith
Emily is one of the Utah writer crew that I've gotten to know, and with pleasure. Her first book takes the voices of six different teenagers, each who knew a boy who died while at scout camp, ostensibly of dehydration. It's a delicious study in voice and character.
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, by Natalie Angier
This non-fiction book takes us through the major studies of science in a light-hearted, often humorous, but always informative manner. I struggled through the physics chapter and eventually skipped a large part of it, but came away from the rest all the more fascinated with this amazing world. A great book for those of us who wish we could retake those science classes in high school that just didn't seem relevant at the time.
A Company of Swans, Eva Ibbotson
My first Ibbotson, and I enjoyed it. I think these weren't originally written for young adults (maybe I'm wrong?) but they're being repackaged YA. I recall one part being slightly mature, so be warned, but overall very accessible to YA and up.Next Wave, by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen
The funniest comic I've ever read. This might just be for fans of comics, because so much of the humor comes from turning comics conventions upside down. Meant for adults.
How Do You Wokka Wokka? by Elizabeth Bluemle and Randy Cecil
I love this picture book read aloud. The text and pictures are inventive and fun.
Bye Bye Baby, by Richard Morris and Larry Day
My favorite picture book about a toddler's life disrupted by the birth of a younger sibling. My kids request it often.
Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon
This mostly-wordless graphic novel has been a favorite of both the 2 and 5-year old. It can be read by children much older, and adults will get things out of it that the kids don't. My mother read it and thought it sad. My children think it's funny. My five-year-old says, "I like the Robot Dreams. My favorite part is when they have ice cream."
See my author interviews for more reccs. What were some of your favorite reads this year?