I've said it before and I'll say it again: This was no easy feat. We had eighty nominees. I could pick a fantasy five or a top ten, but I'll split the difference with an awesome eight. In random order:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando
Stay with Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Nothing but the Truth (and a few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
As you can see, I like a wide variety of stories. No matter what the genre, I appreciate well-told, well-written stories with realistic, memorable characters. The aforementioned eight have all that and more.
Some of the nominees would make adorable movies, such as Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman. Ashleigh's personality and energy simply leaps off the page. Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr, my favorite comedic nominee, would also make a cute movie.
Some will be movies soon. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter actually has been optioned for film - and I would audition for the role of a Gallagher Girl in a heartbeat! I already have plenty of plaid skirts. Meanwhile, production recently wrapped on the first film based on the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. (Say that five times fast.) I really hope that is faithful to the books. Paranoid Park was cast and filmed before the book was even released.
We read a great many pieces of historical fiction. Two standouts happened to be about real authors and their spouses: Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett, about Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, aka Mary Shelley, and Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer, about Anne Hathaway.
The website for Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist encourages readers to post their own playlists. Some nominees should have been published with a CD, such as Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer, Born to Rock by Gordan Korman, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Ali in Adios and Nick in N&N wrote their own songs, and I want to hear them! I ended up making a playlist for N&N, in fact.
Some of my fellow panelists have posted their thoughts on similar subjects. Mindy shares my love for Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) and discusses additional titles, while TadMack talks about nominees which she found to be pleasant surprises.