1. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
Summary: (from Goodreads)
Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.I remember reading Palimpsest after seeing it was voted the best new fantasy book of 2009 by amazon and being completely surprised by how good the book really was. When I reviewed the book I said, "I guess you could say this book is like the abandoned love child of Juliet Marillier and Simon Green’s Something from the Nightside series" and that "this is the kind of book that makes you want to read out loud so you can feel the velvety texture of the words on your tongue. That’s how great the writing is." I still stand by both those statements and I'm surprised I haven't seen this book get more attention.
2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned--a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.I actually read this book just last month and have already mentioned my surprise at how good Animal Farm really is. The line, "All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others," is still one of the best I've ever read. My love for this book completely blindsided me.
3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Summary: (from Goodreads)
The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves--Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.It's no secret that I didn't like Twilight and I found myself ready to hate the Host before I even picked it up. When it turned out that I actually enjoyed reading this book, I was completely surprised. Shocked even. Though there are similarities to Twilight (over-protective men, teenage girls being carried all the time, sappy dialogue, etc.), the Host is a far better story. I also really loved the science fiction aspects to the book. While it seems to take Meyer forever to get to her point, I still enjoyed this book a lot.
A Book that reminds you of home: I am actually skipping this one because I really can't think of a single book that fits this criteria.