I read 25 books last year, and here are the 4 I recommend you read too. They are listed in the order I read them.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I picked this book up off the bargain table at Borders for $6 because I was initially drawn to the cover. This story takes place during World War II and begins with the main character, a young boy, who loses his mom to disease. He develops Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a result, and escapes from life though reading books. One night he climbs through a crack in the garden wall and enters a world of twisted versions of the stories he's read. It's an amazing fairy tale with an incredible ending.
Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
My book club selected this fictionalized story about artist/poet William Blake, who I hadn't even heard of before reading this book. This story takes place in England during the late 1700s. In order to overcome a family tragedy, a small town family moves to the city where they become neighbors with Blake and his wife. This is a tale of young love, the circus, the French Revolution, and especially of innocence, experience, and the crazy space between the two. I loved it and will definitely read more books by her!
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver is a genius! Ecology is the backdrop to this story where seemingly separate lives come together. A forest ranger falls for a coyote hunter from Wyoming; an entomologist inherits a farm when her husband dies and raises goats to try to save it; a crabby old man learns a lesson about environmentalism from his organic, apple-growing neighbor. I didn't want it to end.
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier by Diana and Michael Preston
I already wrote an entire blog post about my adoration of this book. Now that I'm done Corey is reading it!