Posted by: Trisha Leigh | December 29, 2011

Books I Hugged in 2011

I know I promised you all my favorite new television shows of 2011, but I was too lazy to write a blog post on Monday night. Well, actually I could hardly move because of all the food I’d ingested, but either way. Here they are: Hart of Dixie, 2 Broke Girls, The Secret Circle, and New Girl.

The real purpose of this post is to share with you my favorite reads of 2011. Now, this is a hard thing to do because there are just so many that I enjoyed, and picking a top 10 is difficult. Strangely, for me picking a number 1 wasn’t hard at all – there is one book I read this year (and have raved about on this blog previously) that completely blew me away. That said, each of these books won my heart.

Here by Denise Grover Swank

Denise is my longtime critique partner, and this year she took the self-publishing plunge. The decision has been good for her, and she has flown past any expectations either she or I had. Denise writes tight prose, interesting, deep characters, and stories that keep you turning pages until you’re done. Here is her first YA offering, and it is no exception. The story offers all of those things, plus an innovative element/twist that will bend your mind and get you thinking that question we all love – “what if?”

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers 

I’ve loved everything Courtney has published, but this one is my favorite of hers to date. Up until now, Courtney’s stories have been brutally, painfully, beautifully (whoa that’s a lot of adverbs) true. Sometimes humans aren’t poetic or pretty or nice at all – but that’s what makes us human, and Courtney is an expert at shoving her characters under a microscope and showing us, through their struggles, how beautiful the pain can be if we overcome it.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

You might have read Stephanie’s first book last year, Anna and the French Kiss, which was a huge contemporary success. Stephanie’s books are full of the longing, hesitation, and expectation of first crushes that sometimes turn into first love, and reading them makes me both miss those days and happy I never have to experience them again. I loved Lola even more than Anna, and, in my opinion, no one writes teenage girls better than Stephanie Perkins.

County Line by Bill Cameron 

This is the fourth book I’ve read by Bill, and though I love them all, County Line really steps outside what I believed was his comfort zone. That said, he totally nails it, and this is one of my favorites of not only the year, but of his stories as well. If you’ve read his previous offerings, I’m sure you love Ruby Jane as much as I did, and County Line takes us not only inside her rather mysterious past, but inside her mind, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey – even though it also broke my heart.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Yes, I know this didn’t come out in 2011, but I finally got around to reading it in 2011, since the movie was slated to come out, and wow. I can’t believe I waited this long. I would guess that many people have the attitude that I do, which is I sometimes don’t read books that a million people are saying is so good. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m obstinate. But this book? Exceeded my very high expectations. I laughed. I cried. I hated when it was over. This book is truly a treasure.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz 

I didn’t expect this book, which is one of the many reasons I ended up loving it so much. There are a million young adult books, especially contemporary novels, that not only focus on romance, but leave families out of the equation, because, as we all know, they complicate matters. Hannah doesn’t do that, and at the heart of this book is a real, loving, dysfunctional family. She doesn’t pull any punches, and her ability to do that with complete honesty makes me excited to see where her career will go from here.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Reading this novel is like stepping inside a dream of a story you heard as a child, whispered by the wind and curled deep into your mind by time and the safety you felt in your childhood bed. This tale is different, but familiar. Strange, but recognizable. It’s not like any other novel I read this year, and left me feeling half-asleep for hours after I put it down.



Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

The fact that this novel didn’t reach the audience it deserves makes me sad. Instead of the typical girl meets boy centric story lines that pervade literature for teenagers, Kirsten explores instead the complicated relationships between girls, especially during the years we’re all figuring out not only who we are, but who we want to be. This is a special book, easily one of my favorites of the year.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

I discovered Sara Zarr earlier in 2011 and became an immediate fan of both her work and her passion for writing for teens. When I learned they would be giving away a few advanced copies of this title at BEA, I camped out until the Little, Brown reps coughed them up. Let me tell you, she doesn’t disappoint. How to Save a Life is a masterpiece of characterization. Even though one (and at times both) of the point-of-view characters are difficult to read or like, they’re never hard to root for. The common thread in Sara’s writing is her ability to break my heart, then piece it back together again while exposing the possibilities in human nature.

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts 

I’ve beaten everyone over the head with my recommendation to read this book. I’m like a broken record, but I just don’t want to stop until everyone has discovered what a gem this story is, so at home in the explosion of dystopian literature this year, but bringing so much more to the discussion. The novel has elements that will leave you breathless, it has characters you can’t forget, and a world that feels terrifyingly real – but it also has something to say. It frightened me with the way it laid bare the truth of what we should be afraid of – the dark, twisted urges that lay inside all of our minds.

So that’s my top ten. I have to give honorable mentions to these, also: A Game of Thrones (George RR Martin),  Angelfire (Courtney Allison Moulton), Never Let Me Go (Kazua Ishiguro), The Dark and Hollow Places (Carrie Ryan), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O’Farrell), and Divergent (Veronica Roth). Nearly all of these authors have previous books or titles being released in 2012 and I, for one, am looking forward to what they offer up next.

What are your favorite books of the 2011?



  1. Wow, I still need to read a lot of the books on this list. But, oh, LIKE MANDARIN. Definitely loved that one a lot, a lot. In fact, it should have made it onto my own “best of” list, but apparently I became temporarily insane.

    Great list!

    • Your list was full of books I hadnt read, so I guess we have more recs!! Can’t wait for Kirsten’s followup to Like Mandarin in a couple of months, though.

  2. Thank you for including me on your list! ❤ Of course, HERE wouldn't be the book it is without your help, advice and critique.

    There's several books on that list I haven't read yet. I need to get busy!

    • I keep shoving books at you. You’ll get there. *pat pat*

  3. I’ve read a lot of these, but not all. Loved the ones I’ve read enough that I’m going to trust our taste in reading material is similar.

    Happy New Year! May 2012 bring you much happiness. 🙂

    • Happy New Year to YOU, Linda! I’ve enjoyed following your blog and career and can’t wait to get my hands on YOUR BOOK.

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