As per my usual favouritism policy, I won't go so far as to say this list is my Absolutely Positively Top Eleven. I hate choosing favourites and I'd invariably change my mind tomorrow if I went so far as to decree unimpeachable favouriteness about any of these (except maybe items #10 and #11). Therein is my caveat, and here is my list of eleven greats of 2011:
1. [book] Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This book didn't change my life and I could put it down between readings. But it's stayed with me because of its exquisite characterisation and beautiful writing. Stargirl is everything a YA book should be, and Jerry Spinelli is the man when it comes to fiction for younger readers.
2. [book] Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien. After the 2010 Hunger Games binge, it was always going to be hard to find any YA dystopia that could stand proudly next to Katniss and crew. So far, nothing has come close, but Birthmarked was an excellent story. I felt it needed more editing, but the story was good enough to keep me reading in spite of those flaws.
3. [book] Telling the Truth by Frederick Buechner. There is not enough Buechner in my life -- in anyone's life. This little book was a beautiful, poetic look at the amazing storyness of the Gospel. I reviewed it here.
4. [album] Love & War & the Sea in Between Josh Garrels. Josh Garrels is my favourite new-to-me artist. His music is an incredible melding of exquisite poetry, haunting melodies, a whole bunch of genres that nevertheless makes sense, and a Christ-centric message. I wish I knew how to review music better because his stuff deserves it. Just go listen already.
5. [album] Rehab LeCrae. So I like hip-hop and rap now. Who knew? LeCrae's music is excellent, and the lyrics are soaked in God-truths. This album was a timely blessing for my brain in 2011.
6. [film] The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper. I love history and I love films about history. More than that, however, I love films about people. This one ticks all the boxes and was an immaculate period drama that deserves every award it received. Also, we all now love George VI more than we did before.
7. [film] The Help, directed by Tate Taylor. (The book was even better, but this is my cheaty way of recommending them both.) The Help reminded me of how quickly we can forget the breadth of the mistakes that have been made. The race clashes The Help documents were happening just fifteen years before I was born; this stuff isn't old news, and it's told with beautiful characterisation, beautiful setting, and excellent actors.
8. [blog] The Accidental Traveler. Kate Andre's blog was a new discovery for me in early 2011, and I've been so blessed and challenged by it. The internet needs more blogs like this -- humble, sincere, genuine expositions of life and faith and motherhood and mistakes. I love it.
9. [blog] Everyday Isa. I found Isa's blog only a few months ago, but it has quickly become a favourite read. Isa discusses God and creativity and being a girl, and she really knows how to make nice words.
10. [person] Abby by Lauren and James. This chubby parcel of pink and blonde landed on the planet in May, and the world has never been the same since. I never knew people so small could have so much personality. She's beautiful.
11. [person] Daniel by Sam and Andrea. For a little man who's only six months old, already he exudes serenity and is the best variation of the strong, silent type: the strong, silent, smiling type. I have never met a more content little person in all my life. I'm honoured to know them both.
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Joy -- yes, that's Lauren's little one. Isn't she precious?
Sarah -- I agree. They're little enough to be cute and squishy, but big enough to have their own developing personalities :).
Lauren -- thanks!
Un -- haha!! GOPEE yourself!
Jessica -- yes. Tongue was firmly in cheek, with a little happy sarcasm sprinkled on.
Hannah -- you are sweet! Thank you, on both counts!
Samantha R -- thanks for your sweet comments on my pics :).