Author of the year:
Kate Atkinson. From Human Croquet (scary and beautiful, as the best fairytales are) to Not the End of the World: Stories (very good, but why are all collections of short stories vaguely creepy?), I devoured four of Atkinson’s books this year. My favorite was When Will There Be Good News?, which follows characters after the events in One Good Turn.
The best workplace novels that are basically the same book:
Then We Came to the End (Joshua Ferris) and Personal Days (Ed Park). This would bother me more if I liked them less.
Best biography by virtue of the fact that it is impossible to screw up the riveting story of this person’s life:
Ngaio Marsh: A Life (Margaret Lewis). Lewis missed a lot about Marsh, a Golden Age mystery author, as a writer: the anti-capital punishment stance, her ability to include gay characters who aren't the villains,
Best young adult author in transition to adult literature:
Jaclyn Moriarty. Her young adult novels (such as The Year of Secret Assignments and The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie) are probably better than most teenagers deserve. Her first adult novel, I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes, is definitely better than we adults deserve. Magical and wonderful and fantastic and genius and clever and fun.
Best retrospective of important psychological experiments:
Opening Skinner’s Box (Lauren Slater). Really fascinating, and very well written.
Most insightful view of childhood:
The Fountain Overflows (Rebecca West). In this story of an eccentric family of musicians, West is particularly adept at describing precocious children.
Best P.G. Wodehouse stories I happened to pick up:
Sam the Sudden (predictably fun, especially the banter between the leads characters) and Uncle Dynamite (you can always trust the Earl of Ickenham).
Best mystery novels:
The Headhunters (Peter Lovesey) and Death of an Englishman (Magdalen Nabb). Ever wanted to kill your boss and/or travel to
Best book on kindness:
Best “new” mystery author discovery:
Edmund Crispin. How had I not read The Moving Toyshop, Love Lies Bleeding, or Buried for Pleasure before?