I’m not a good person to make a best of list, as I’m terribly behind on everything and usually get to books a couple years after the copyright date. But, of course, that’s not going to stop me.

The best book of the year for me—as it was for a lot of other people—was When You Reach Me. It was so good it actually destroyed me—I could not see the point in writing a book if it wasn’t going to aim as high as that and thus could not write at all. (This was not what my poor agent was intending when she sent it to me.) Several times while reading it I could feel something in my brain shift, like a statue you turn 45 degrees and it’s suddenly something completely else.

Everything Laurie Halse Anderson writes makes me want to flagellate myself, and Wintergirls was no exception. A student and I are talking about expressionism this semester—it’s dramatization of the interior landscape, art that doesn’t try to portray the world as it is, but as the character experiences it. Anderson’s prose—at once shadowy and piercing—so beautifully expresses the world of her protagonist.

In fantasy, I pick two sequels. The Ask and the Answer, a sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go-a freakishly dark dystopian series about some particularly nasty futuristic Puritans (and one awesome talking dog.) I don’t need to flagellate myself, because there’s already plenty of flagellation on the page. And Sacred Scars, the follow-up to our common book, Skin Hunger. I’m in the middle of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine right now and I think that will end up on my list, for voice, humor, and for surely creating one or two more vegetarians in the world.

What about you?