Here is a list of the books I read for my book club in 2011, as well as a few comments for each...
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
John Irving is perhaps one of the greatest contemporary writers, at least in my opinion. This book is a fantastical tale of friendship, miracles, faith, and God's purpose. The writing is amazing, the characters are quirky and believable, and the story is nothing short of inspiring and entertaining.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
This young adult novel burst onto the scene shortly after the success of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Although not as good as The Hunger Games, this dystopian story about a girl who seeks to save her society is captivating. I am looking forward to the next installment of this trilogy!
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This novel could be considered a meta-novel, a piece of fiction about fiction. Follow Pi on this survival adventure as he lives in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger and decide for yourself if imagination and story are better than dry fact.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Definitely one of my favorites on this list, I highly recommend Peace Like a River. It is a novel about miracles, faith, and family. Excellent!
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
This book taught me a lot about the effects of the Holocaust in France. Chapters jump from a present day journalist to Sarah, a young Jewish girl who loses everything. The writing is good, the characters are likeable, and while the story is sad and disturbing, it is also astounding and hopeful.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Ever wonder what it's like to view life from a dog's perspective? This book will give you a glimpse. Follow Enzo the dog through his life with a human family and be delighted.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
This novel, composed entirely of fictional letters, is a delight to read. The characters are charming and the history of WWII on the island of Guernsey is educational. This is a very fun and enjoyable book.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
By far one of the best books of the past few years, Stockett brings to life some of the most likeable characters and tells a wonderful story of friendship. If you haven't read this one yet, please do, and read it before you see the movie, if you can!
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This book has been popular for some time, but if you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to do so. It's a wonderful book about friendship, mistakes, forgiveness, and redemption. It's a truly inspiring story!
The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart
Although I looked forward to reading this novel that has been compared to Chocolat by Joanne Harris, I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. Due to clunky, repetitive writing, The Matchmaker of Perigord left me feeling frustrated and unable to appreciate the charm of the characters or plot.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
This is a wonderful story of a young girl who leaves her childhood home and ends up finding a new family in a group of African American women. Full of friendship, female strength, and a beautiful coming of age story, The Secret Life of Bees is one of my all-time favorite books.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Although it's a bit gritty, this book tells the story of Jacob, an old man recalling his early life as part of a circus during the Depression. I enjoyed this book very much. The writing is great, and I especially enjoyed the way the chapters alternate between Jacob as an old man and Jacob as a young man.
What is the What by Dave Eggers
If you want to learn about the wars in Sudan through fiction, this is the book for you. Dave Eggers wrote this book after exhaustive conversations with a Lost Boy from the Sudan. Heartbreaking, amazing, and hopeful, this is an excellent novel.
What books did you read this past year? What are you hoping to read in 2012?