Woot, lists! Good idea, Mikey.
So I'll get these first few out of the way:
Bossypants, Scott Pilgrim. The Pleasure of My Company (a reread, er, listen, for me). Oscar Wao. Ditto what Mike said about those.
It's embarrassing, but I've had to go back to my Goodreads and look over what I've read this year. Heeere we go, my list of recommendations for 2011.
Clementine series, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. For fans of Ramona Quimby, check out this 21st-century third-grader. I hope we have a kid like Clementine: messy, weird, creative, and spunky. It was so nice to have a young reader series about good values without the cookie cutter feel of Dick and Jane. Clementine comes from a loving family, with parents who love each other and their children AND their jobs. And they face legitimate problems; none of that "I can't find my dolly!" dilemma set that no one buys.
Pretty much anything by Marla Frazee. I'm a little obsessed with her. Marla, I bolded your name, y'hear? Recommended reads include Roller Coaster, a cute book ostensibly about one kid riding a roller coaster, though each page shows the experiences of every last person in line for the ride. Frazee is subtle; you have to pick up one of her books to understand how hilarious she is. I'd also recommend Boss Baby, and Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages. It's literally a guide on walking for babies, but it reads like a self-help book for a middle-aged man, a la the old-school Goofy shorts (How to Drive, How to Golf, etc.). Check out Marla Frazee. She's a delight.
Binky series, by Ashley Spires. Oh my. Get ready to wet yourself a little. Binky is a cat. And he is 100%, all-cat. And he goes to space. So.
I also have to recommend Small Saul by Spires as well. Saul is enchanted with the sea, but when he tries to enlist in the navy, he's dismiss because he's too short. So he becomes a pirate instead. In his own way.
I've also been on a self-sufficiency/homesteading kick. These books all talk about the same subjects: kitchen gardens, animal husbandry, home dairies, etc. My favorite reads in this category include the Homemade Living series by Ashley English, the Storey's Guide series, and The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour.
A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone. A (not totally) academic look at the history of women in relation to food cultivation, preparation, and culture in America. Schenone starts at the beginning. Literally. Like, creation myths. So, it was thorough. And very informative. I loved all the artifacts she included. Lots of great old ads and product labels.
I'm not finished reading yet, but I've been working on The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I also read Reading Lolita in Tehran this year, but I had a hard time working with the author's philosophies. She bugged me, honestly. But with the courage and frankness of a child, Satrapi communicates with much more facility the reality of the Islamic Revolution. Her sense of humor is at once moving and snarky and clever and devastating. It's one of those great reads that is too good to put down, but every page haunts or shocks me. Or makes me laugh out loud in the bathroom.
Looking over my list, I feel like a spastic reader. And I feel like I read more grown-up books this year. Didn't I? It was a goal (unofficial, though) for this year. Epic FAIL. But no regrets.