I know this post is very Oprah-like (and we all know how I feel about Oprah), but one of the things I love is to find and share a great read.

If I measure my year by the number of good books discovered, 2011 ranks highly.  So many authors, both new and always loved, captured my attention. And my new Kobo Touch was so much fun to use, it made me read more and took my love of reading to a whole new level.

Be forewarned: most of the books listed here are woman fare and are all fiction (the rest of my life is one big piece of non-fiction, so I don’t feel like I need any more of it). But guys, if you have a girl in your life who loves to read, picking up one of these as a gift or “just because” will score you huge points.

Hope you enjoy these book as much as I did.

The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern

This is the debut novel by Erin Morgenstern and what a first impression.  A night-time circus is the setting for a battle between two magicians, Celia and Marco, who have unknowingly been trained for a competition where only one can be left standing. Even when the two fall in love, the game must go on. I have an addiction to books and movies that revolve around a circus (watch the now cancelled TV series, Carnivale, if you share my quirky interest). This book does not disappoint. Morgenstern brilliantly weaves her story with crisp language that keeps you turning the page.  The Night Circus just came out in September 2011, and I bet it will conjure up big acclaim in the near future.

Alone in the Classroom
By Elizabeth Hay

This is a beautifully written tale set in rural Saskatchewan and the Ottawa Valley in the late 20′s. Connie Flood helps a student, all while being watched by the principal, Parley Burns, whose strange behaviour results in a disturbing attack that haunts everyone for years. The story is told from the perspective of Connie’s niece and Hay’s writing strips each character to the point where you feel you are a fly on their wall. I love Elizabeth Hay‘s writing; she is my favourite Canadian author. Her writing is brief, poignant and masterful. Her command of language and words continually puts me in awe and her books are ones you want to read again, not so much for the story, but so you can work your way through her words once again. If you have never experienced Hay, try this book, or I encourage you to read her Giller-prizing winning Late Nights on Air, which ranks as one of my favourite books of all time.

State of Wonder
By Ann Patchett

Set in the Amazon jungle, Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company, is sent to find a colleague and mentor who has seemingly gone missing as she researches the development of a new drug. Her mission is a challenging one as the last person sent to find the missing researcher mysteriously died.  There are many twists and turns along the way in this quick, can’t stop read. I didn’t want the book to end and it reminded me why I have always loved Ann Pathcett‘s books.

The Secret Daughter
By Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This was an unexpected and compulsive read. I bought this book as a gift, got bored one day and decided to read it, and could not put it down. The main character, Somer, lives in San Francisco and has a seemingly perfect life, except for the fact that she cannot have kids. Across the globe in India, Kavita has a daughter that she chooses to give away in order to provide her with a better life. The child is adopted by Somer from an orphanage and is named Asha. Asha is all that connects the two women and their completely different lives, but the story weaves back and forth between their perspectives and the people that surround them.  This is a satisfying, heart wrenching read and I cannot wait to read whatever Canadian author, Shilip Gowda writes next.

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins

Imagine living in the future in a place where every year, a boy and a girl from each of the nation’s twelve districts are randomly chosen to fight to the death. This is the setting and story behind the very popular, The Hunger Games. Even though Suzanne Collins wrote the book for teens, adult readers will not be disappointed. I was addicted to this book and could not download the second and third book in the trilogy series fast enough. The first book is the best and is the choice when you want a quick, engrossing escape (the second  book, Catching Fire, is good, and the third, Mockingjay, felt like it was rushed and was not as satisfying).

What books did you read this year that you loved?  I’d love to hear your picks.