The time has come! Before I party the year away I wanted to rate the 20 books I read from best to worst. I’ll provide some brief pros and cons, but if you want more info about any of them, just click on the links to their full reviews. I’m also taking recommendations for 2012–hopefully, I’ll beat this year’s record with 25 novels!
*NOTE: Ratings are out of 5 and are listed after the authors in parentheses.
1. 1984 by George Orwell (5)
Pros: A hauntingly exquisite masterpiece of one man’s attempt to escape a warmongering, all-controlling government.
Cons: Takes some time to get going, but pacing is not that much of an issue.
Recommended to: Everyone who’s interested in a stimulating, mind-blowing, politically charged, timeless, life-changing read. And who wouldn’t want that? Seriously, why aren’t you dropping everything and reading it right now? Oh, you want to finish my list? Ok, fine, I’ll let you, but you better run/mouse-click to your nearest bookstore ASAP!
2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (5)
Pros: Tragic romance in which two star-crossed lovers must decide between money or passion. Beautifully written.
Cons: Takes an acquired taste, and probably won’t appeal much to fans of action-packed plots.
Recommended to: Hopeless romantics; Fans of Wharton, the Bronte sisters, Austen, and other 19th c. female authors
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (5)
Pros: Dystopian tale totally worth its hype. Exhilarating read that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Cons: Fantastic beginning which will lead you down to a horrendous ending. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Recommended to: Thrill-seekers who don’t mind some graphic violence; People who have to jump on every bandwagon just because; Twihards who need another love triangle to obsess over; Dystopian YA fiction fanatics
4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4.5)
Pros: Excellent sci-fi novel which defined its genre. Entertaining yet critical look into militarism and war.
Cons: Coming-of-age story means pacing’s slow at times.
Recommended to: Sci-fi fans; Video game players; Scholars interested in the effects of violence on individuals.
5. Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison (4.5)
Pros: Fun story of a group of women bonding over shoes. Between debt, infidelity, and weight issues, anyone can relate to these characters.
Cons: Chapters are divided by character POV, and one woman isn’t introduced until about 100 pages in.
Recommended to: Chick-lit lovers; the shoe-obsessed; Anyone in need of a light-hearted read.
6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (4)
Pros: It’s almost as good as 1984, and slightly better than Fahrenheit 451. They’re the dystopian classic trifecta!
Cons: You have to be able to stomach little kids having sex. Major ick factor.
Recommended to: Those fascinated by genetic-engineering; People against reliance on anxiety medication; Readers who want an intellect boost.
7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (4)
Pros: It’s always nice reading a book about reading books. Down with censorship!
Cons: Confusing to understand the world at first, so have some patience.
Recommended to: Lovers of banned books; Anyone who wants to read a literary classic, but doesn’t have much free time to spare.
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (4)
Pros: Entertaining sequel to The Hunger Games, and there’s definitely more romantic tension.
Cons: Not as good as original, beginning is slow, and it’s just one step closer to disappointment.
Recommended to: Only those who’ve read The Hunger Games. Duh.
9. Matched by Ally Condie (4)
Pros: Mysterious, interesting take on the dystopian YA genre.
Cons: Yet another love triangle, hold your groans.
Recommended to: Poetry lovers; dystopian fans; practically any teenage girl.
10. Abandon by Meg Cabot (4)
Pros: Fun modern adaptation of the myth of Persephone.
Cons: Predictable plot, cheesy dialogue, and characters with moments of annoying behavior.
Recommended to: Anyone who enjoys Greek myth, YA chick-lit, or cliche romances between sassy girls and dark, handsome bad boys.
11. Gone with the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson (4)
Pros: Hilariously sexy romp between a hot actress and her geeky lawyer.
Cons: Predictable plot with some cheesy dialogue.
Recommended to: Romance novel fans; Those who love nerdy men; Believers of Bigfoot
12. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (4)
Pros: Original, refreshing take on romantic literary fiction.
Cons: WAY too short to count as a novel!
Recommended to: Busy readers; Those who like learning new words; Anyone who wants a story not-so-obviously hetero-normative.
13. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell (4)
Pros: Witty prequel to “Sex and the City” in which a teenage Carrie Bradshaw experiences love and betrayal.
Cons: Outside its fan base, it might be just a decent chick-lit story.
Recommended to: Carrie Bradshaw fans; Anyone from a small town who wishes for life in a big city.
14. A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane (3.5)
Pros: Interesting sci-fi tale about Martians with likable characters and much info about the red planet.
Cons: Don’t bother reading if you’ve haven’t read the last 8 books in the series.
Recommended to: Readers loyal to the Young Wizards series, of course.
15. The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham (3.5)
Pros: Funny story about a girl getting married who’s secretly already someone else’s wife.
Cons: Definitely a character novel with little action.
Recommended to: Chick-lit lovers; Soap opera viewers; Anyone in need of a beach read.
16. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (3.5)
Pros: Beautiful prose; Tragic tale about a woman who commits adultery to escape her unhappy life.
Cons: Madame Bovary is difficult to empathize with, given her naive, often foolish behavior.
Recommended to: Readers who appreciate polished writing and morally ambiguous characters.
17. Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (3)
Pros: Yet another story of the beloved boy mastermind and his friends of humans and fairies alike.
Cons: Outrageously annoying alter ego character, overly moral themes, stale plot.
Recommended to: Devoted fans of the series eager to get closer to the finale.
18. A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham (3)
Pros: Realistic look into a group of Brits involved in the selling, buying, and living in a home.
Cons: Selfish, fame/fortune-mongering characters will little redeeming qualities.
Recommended to: Wickham fans; Those who gain pleasure from dysfunctional, miserable families.
19. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (3 overall, 1 for ending)
Pros: The suspenseful finale of an otherwise excellent series.
Cons: Oh, where to begin? Just click on the link!
Recommended to: Only those who are hell-bent on finishing the series or the truly masochistic.
20. Overbite by Meg Cabot (2)
Pros: It’s just what I call Cabot candy: sweet and simple.
Cons: Unfortunately, this book is like the sugar buttons of candy: not much better than the paper it’s made on.
Recommended to: Meg Cabot fans; Twihards or anyone else obsessed with all-things vampire.
Phew! So there you have it! Enjoy your New Year’s, and I’ll see you in 2012 (well, after a well-deserved break, anyway!) Now go read 1984!!!