Indie Lit Awards. You must have seen posts about this event sprouting up all over in your reader, but in case you missed it, here's the gist. Indie Lit Awards are annual awards given by book bloggers in various categories, such as Biography/Memoir, GLBTQ, Fiction, Mystery, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Speculative Fiction. This award is now in its second year, and if you wish to see the winners of last year, go here. The nominations for this year are already open and will continue to be so all the way through December. The winners are announced next year. So if you have a book you would love to see win in any of those categories, go here, select the genre of the book and place your nomination.
I am a voting member of the Fiction panel, and hence I cannot nominate. But I would love to share some of my favorite books I read this year so that if you also loved any of them, you can nominate. I looked at my read shelf this year for 2011 releases, and this is the one time I'm glad I don't read too many books in a year, so it wasn't too hard to draw up my favorites. Today, I'm focusing on a few Fiction titles that I loved. Tomorrow, I'll post about some books in the other categories.
Some of my top favorite books so far in Fiction among this year's releases have been Irma Voth, State of Wonder, Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb, The Four Ms. Bradwells, In Zanesville and The London Train. It's pretty hard to choose a single favorite among these books, since each of them brought something different to the reading experience but if I had to, it would be Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb.
Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb was about a young boy with a mental illness. He becomes friends with and later obsessed with Pia, who likes to be called Miss Entropia, because of her obsession with fire. Since the two first meet, their lives are heavily tangled, until the end, while all the time their minds are slowly unraveling. The interesting thing is that despite the very eerie sensation of watching a person crumble slowly, the book was hilarious! I would never have put humor and mental illness on the same shelf even, but the author makes it work wonderfully!
The Four Ms. Bradwells left me breathless once I finished it. It was truly in all ways a woman's novel, especially a career woman's. I loved how this book tackled some of the issues women in law or politics face and how being in a high-visibility career position, they are sometimes forced by others or circumstances to not talk about the tragic events in their lives. I also loved how when I took some things for granted, Meg Clayton questioned that. If you especially loved this author's The Wednesday Sisters, this is a book you may not want to miss!
Ann Patchett is probably the only author I have read twice this year. Her State of Wonder is as magical as Bel Canto, even though I did have some issue with the ending. Still, it is pretty hard to forget how she could hold me captivated over 300-400 pages, especially during the lulls in the story. There are many things that happen in this book - an unmarried woman's private love life, a former professor's obsession with research, a tribe whose women can get pregnant even in their seventies, and research on humans with all the ethical issues around it.
The London Train was also a slow book in terms of what happens through the pages, but I still loved how the book evoked feelings of loneliness, love, anxiety, and desperation. The two protagonists in this book are running away from their own lives and at some point, they cross paths. That meeting has huge consequences on their own lives and their relationships with others. Although this book is actually told as two independent stories, it doesn't really read as a book of short stories.
Irma Voth was my most recent read. I had loved one other book that I had read by this author, so her writing style was not new to me. What most appeals to me about her books is how she can personalize a feeling without ever mentioning it. The characters' actions, drives, words and thoughts paint a portrait of emotions much better than one could write about it. In Zanesville was another favorite of mine with a nameless teen protagonist who has a wacky sense of humor. This isn't a YA book, even though the characters fall in that age-group. It's a coming-of-age story but there's so much more - in a strange way, it reminded me of my own junior and high-school years, in a way very few other books managed to.
So these are some of my favorite reads so far this year. I hope I did convince you to check out one or some of them. If you did read and love any of these books, then I hope you will vote for them in the Indie Lit Awards! What 2011 releases made your favorites list?