I’m a steady reader since I have a commute by metro to work and also need to read before I can fall asleep at night, so it was hard to pick only a few books I enjoyed this year. I blogged on Mary Shelley’s birthday about Passion by Jude Morgan, and I can’t wait to read his next one, Symphony, about the love affair between Berlioz and Harriet Smithson (hint to nearest and dearest–it’s on my Amazon wishlist). I also loved The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James whom the Riskies interviewed earlier this month.

OK, first, let’s get the literary crack out of the way. Read this hilarious spoof by the Smart Bitches and you’ll know what I mean–I find JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series immensely entertaining, embarrassingly addictive, and I just about still respect myself in the morning. I can give them up any time I wahnt (a joke, not a typo). Same with Anne Stuart’s Ice books, where–what’s not to love–phenomenally good looking male operatives are trained to be so good at sex that they can make women do anything. And they do. Terrific escapist fun, both series.

My friend Robin L. Rotham published her first book Alien Overnight this year–it’s funny, sexy, and very well-written and has a hilariously over the top cover. Carry a big stick, har har. How’s this for a killer opening sentence: “Notice the slight emergence of the male’s accessory sexual organ, or what the Garathani refer to as a breeding spur.”

Well, what can I say. I’m in love with another species myself. I pooh-poohed the idea of dragons in the Napoleonic wars when Megan blogged about them last year, but I read all four of Naomi Novik’s fabulous Temeraire books in less than two weeks. I take it all back. These are a brilliant blend of fact with fantasy, and I’m absolutely in love with both Temeraire the dragon (whose neck fringes are infinitely better than Gerard Butler’s and everything is much much bigger) and the wonderful, gentlemanly Captain Laurence.

I also enjoyed new books by two favorites–Making Money by Terry Pratchett (check out the macroeconomic model in the basement of the bank) and Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next–First Among Sequels. If you don’t know these two writers you’re in for a treat; Pratchett writes (sort of) satirical sci-fi; Fforde writes about an investigator for the Department of Jurisfiction in an alternative literary England. I’d suggest trying to read them in order, although Pratchett has a huge amount of books in print.

I was also thrilled that Jennifer Crusie and Bob Meyer’s second collaboration, Agnes and the Hitman, was right on the money; great, funny stuff, although I still can’t get used to the idea of Jennifer Crusie writing about the mafia. Maybe Bob wrote those bits. You really can’t tell, with such a seamless collaboration.

I discovered a new author, Fiona Neill, whose book Slummy Mummy is about that most hideous phenomenon, London yuppies in reproductive mode. As well as the obvious jokes involving high-powered women putting their formidable talents into child-rearing, this book had a lot of heart and wisdom. I recommend it highly.

I finally got around to a 2006 release, Mozart’s Women, about the women he loved and the music he wrote for them, and I desperately want the gown Nannerle his sister is wearing on the cover. Also in nonfiction, London in the Nineteenth Century by Jerry White, which was excellent, although disappointing in only very brief mentions of servants and the black population. I don’t think it’s available yet in the US.

And finally, The Elements of Internet Style for anyone who’s interested in literacy, books, the web, and where everything online and in print seems to be going. It’s entertaining and smart, and I wrote a section of it.

Have you read any of these? What’s on your wishlist?

All contests all the time. Check out what Pam Rosenthal is giving away in her contest; read an alternate ending to The Rules of Gentility and enter to win a prize at janetmullany.com.