I had terrific year of reading--I read over 60 books in 2011, and I have hopes for repeating that. (Someday, I want to read as many as Julie Davis of Happy Catholic or Jeff Miller of Curt Jester, but I'll wait until the kids are a bit older to set my sights that high!)

So, given that I read like a crazy woman and enjoy it (and given that many of the books I read are review books), I thought I'd share highlights from my favorites. This week, I'll share the best of the best in the fiction I read.

Sit down, you're going to need a while to read these.

  • Theophilos, by Michael O’Brien - This book made me reflect on the deeper aspects of scripture. It's the story of Luke, told by Theophilos, the person the Gospel of Luke is addressed to, I believe. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to rereading it someday.
  • The Father’s Tale, by Michael O’Brien - I ranked this as the best book of 2011 when asked by a fellow blogger for my vote on best books of 2011. It's the story of a father who goes on an amazing journey looking for his son. In the course of it, he discovers a lot...and so, I think, does the reader. I found myself looking inward and contemplating as I got to know the characters.

Wear gloves, or you're likely to bite your nails off.

  • Viper, by John Desjarlais - The fabulous follow-up to Desjarlais's Bleeder, it stands alone as a novel. It's fast-paced, guaranteed to keep you up late reading, and has some wonderful down-and-dirty devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe within it.
  • Rachel’s Contrition, by Michelle Buckman - This was one of my favorite books from 2010 and I reread it in 2011 for various reasons. It was just as good the second time around, and I recommend it just as highly now as I did before.
  • Stealing Jenny, by Ellen Gable - Wow! I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. The writing is superb, the plot is harrowing, and the characters are so real I kept looking over my shoulder. Don't miss this one!
  • The Soul Reader, by Gerard Webster - While this is a sequel to Webster's first novel, In-Sight, it stands alone and carries you on an adventure that will leave your mind reeling, the pages turning, and you longing for more.

Just plain good writing.

  • Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones - On the one hand, it's chick lit-ish. On the other hand, I loved it. And everyone I've leant it to, including my high school aged niece, has also loved it.
  • Poor Banished Children, by Fiorella de Maria - Historical, distressing, and gritty, this novel kept me reading and made me want to read more. One of the best examples I've ever seen of point-of-view used well.
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott - I picked this up as I was struggling through a quite horrid novel. It made everything better and reminded me of why I loved it back in my girlhood. I still love it. And hey! You can find it FREE in any number of places! (Add that to the long list of reasons I should read more classics!)
Fun, fantasy, and beyond.
  • Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator, by Karina Fabian - I am NOT a reader of books about zombies. I'm not even usually a reader of fantasy or science fiction, but Karina Fabian is the kind of writer who can convince me to try because (a) she makes me laugh and howl and (b) she is an awesome writer. Neeta Lyffe is my new hero, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series.
  • Toward the Gleam, by T.M. Doran - I thought I had this book figured out, but I didn't. It was good, and it felt like there would be more someday, maybe in another book. Then again, that's the mark of a good novel--it leaves you wanting more, still thinking about the story, and pondering about what's going on around you.
  • Aquasynthesis, by Grace Bridges & Walt Staples - This is a collection of stories that I wasn't sure I'd like (but I know one of the authors and had to give it a try, because I love their other work). It was delightful, really.
  • Mind Over Mind, by Karina Fabian - Before you call me a Karina Fabian groupie (I am), let me say that this book runs a close second for Book of the Year in my fiction ratings. I was gripped by it, and I all but wrote a letter to the author asking her to hurry up! and write! the next book! Awesome, just awesome.
So how about you? What were your favorite fiction reads from 2011?
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Copyright 2012 Sarah Reinhard