These books are those I label best. I either feel that they changed me, changed the genre they were written in, or could change the world. "But wait!" you said. "We love your best books of the year, but please, give us overly specific award categories and imaginary theme songs!"* All right, all right. Anything for my loyal readers.
Best comedy of manners masquerading as a mystery. Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
Best comic supernatural retelling of an early novel. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - "Living Dead Girl" by White Zombie
Best fairy tale graphic novel for children. Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale - "Take the Road" from Never After
Best gay teen superhero story. Hero by Perry Moore - "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross
Best Greek-tragedy-influenced classic noir. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler</a> "One for my Baby, and One for the Road" by Billy Holiday
Best late-life sexual memoir.** A Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska - "F*ck and Run" - Liz Phair
Best sexy pentacle tattoo novel set in Victorian England. Soulless by Gail Carriger - "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston
Best speculative suspense novel. Touchstone by Laurie R King - "Don't Let It Bring You Down," Annie Lenox
Best YA fantasy with a skeleton hero. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down," from All Dogs Go to Heaven
Best YA starring a female assassin. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - "Bitterblue" by Cat Stevens
These books earned a grade of B+, which is the high end of the "I love this book and would read it over and over!" category.
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammet
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
No! I don't Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironsides
My Most Excellent Year by Steven Kluger
Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrow
Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos** by Bucky Sinister
The Fox by Sherwood Smith
Dies the Fire by SM Stirling
Gate of the Gods by Martha Wells
The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Tempting Fate by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Want even more best-of goodness? Click here for 2008's best fiction, and here for the best nonfiction.
*All right, so you didn't. But you would have if you had thought of it. Am I right, or am I right?
**This year's notable nonfiction titles. Surprisingly, there were only two - usually it breaks down more evenly.