There wasn't a mind-bending or heart-rending book this year, but I did read a lot of good-ish to very good fiction. I also recommended some of this good-ish and very good fiction to others, and aside from the Hunger Games trilogy, no one seemed to appreciate these books like I did. Alas.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender - It was particularly sad. Also a weird voice combination that could easily pass for the stacks of teen-girl fiction I read during middle school (Paula Danziger, what!) but at the same time held an edge that I definitely could not have dealt with at 12 (nevermind that Ayn Rand seemed perfectly acceptable adolescent reading material at the time).
The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To, by D.C. Pierson - Also, strangely, about a teenage kid. This one, though, has incredible superpowers about which he's lovably nonchalant and jaded. Could be a comic book, but so deliciously not, there's adventure, intrigue, chase scenes and supernaturalism. Delightful.
Going Away Shoes, Final Vinyl Days and Creatures of Habit, by Jill McCorkle - Going Away Shoes was published last year and got pretty rave reviews, and a friend recommended and loaned it to me. Only after enjoying those stories did I realize that Jill McCorkle was yet another Hollins alum, holding company with the likes of Annie Dillard and Lee Smith. Hollins is a tiny women's college in Roanoke with a gem of a writing program, and McCorkle's stories are razor-sharp. I ended up reading her entire repertoire. She's got a little too much feminist axe to grind for my taste, but luckily she chops nasty attitudes up in such hilarious ways that every story was either laugh out loud enjoyable or melt in your mouth savory.
I'm always on the lookout for the book that makes me audibly regret turning the last page. None of these did - no sighs, no profanity, just contented enjoyment. Which is great, such as it is. But shake my brain up, y'all. That's what I'm looking for.