In no particular order, the best books I've read this year are:
Dissolution by C.J. Sansom Fiction. A perfect blend of historical fiction and murder mystery, this book kept me interested right to the very end. Sansom certainly does his research in this story about a hunchback lawyer investigating a murder in the middle of Henry VIII's dismantling of the monasteries. I devoured this one.
In A Dry Season by Peter Robinson Fiction. Switching back and forth between England during WWII and the present, this murder mystery was enthralling. I almost couldn't stop readin this.
Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott Non-Fiction. A memoir about growing up in southern Africa. It reminded me of "Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight but with much more functional parents.
Got You Back by Jane Fallon Fiction Sometimes what you thought you wanted isn't actually what you wanted. Thinking girl's "chick lit", Fallon manages to make the unsympathetic character sympathetic, and the one you were rooting for the one you hate.
The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff Fiction. A Jewish girl passes herself off as a Gentile to spy on a Nazi official in Poland during the war. Hard to put down, excellent historical fiction.
The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty Fiction. How would you cope if someone you loved did something awful? This book about an accident and the aftermath was enthralling and moving.
The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove Fiction What if the Confederates got AK-47s from some time travelling South Africans with an agenda? What would happen if the South won the war, and Robert E. Lee had his own ideas about how things would work out? I found this hard to put down.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett I think this was my very favorite book this year. A story about the maids of Jackson, Mississippi and their employers, on the cusp of the civil rights movement, The Help was enthralling and moving and entirely fabulous. I was alternately dying to find out how it ended, and very sorry to see it finish. My book club loved it, too, and I found myself tellng all sorts of people to read it.
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey Fiction. By the author of A Million Little Pieces, this story of Los Angeles was gritty and compelling and absolutley fascinating. It talked about gangs, and highways, and water and history and all the people who come to L.A. to start a new life.I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and it has stayed with me long after I finished it. And excellent book.
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper Fiction. Family and grief and starting over. Tropper manages to make me laugh out loud while making me feel as though these characters are real and worth knowing.
Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman Non-fiction. By the author of Hypocrite In A Pouffy White Dress, this story of travelling and youth and finding yourself out of your depth made me laugh out loud.
A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian Fiction Modern Western values set against older, Eastern ideals. In a world where one out of three marriages ends in divorce, is an arranged marriage really such a bad idea? This story of expectations and wills was very gripping.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova Usually a story of Alzheimer's disease is told from the caretaker's point of view, but this one is seen through the victim's eyes. Alice's descent into confusion and forgetfullness was sad and compelling. A great book.
The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes One of my very favorite authors; I would read this woman's grocery list. Keyes books are entirely entertaining.