1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: I read this in high school and didn't like it as much as Austen's other books, but reading it again recently, I realized just how funny it is. I didn't appreciate the satirical elements when I was 15. I will definitely be reading this again one day.
2. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell: I didn't like it as much as North and South, but a great read, with interesting characters and a story that drew me in.
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry: Don't know how I missed this growing up, but what a great book! Given the prevalence of "dystopian" YA fiction, I've appreciated reading some older dystopians as comparison, and The Giver is definitely a must-read.
4. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: I love time travel, and this one was recommended by a good friend. WOW! A time travel story involving an African American woman who is unable to keep from slipping between the 1970s and the Antebellum South. Gripping and well-written.
5. Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill: So apparently, I've read a lot about slavery recently... This book tells the fascinating story of Aminata, a young girl from Africa who is captured and sold into slavery. Her tenacity and intelligence lead her from the South, to New York, to Nova Scotia, and back to Africa. A fantastic book.
6. The Reader by Bernard Schlink: From slavery to post-WWII Germany, I'm a barrel of laughs today. This book isn't for everyone, but it's a really thought-provoking read about a teenage and his much-older lover, as well as a metaphor for dealing with the legacy of WWII.
7. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: The disturbing tale of a group of undergraduate students and their odd Greek professor, and how their relationship turned from friendship to betrayal.
8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Yep, I did read at least one happier book. The story of Cath, moving out to go to college and adjusting to her new roommate, the strained turn in her relationship with her twin sister, and her obsession with writing Simon Snow fan fiction. I loved this book.
9. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin: I mentioned this recently, but Team of Rivals ranks as one of my favourite biographies of all time. I raced through this because I found Lincoln and his companions so interesting.
10. Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum: I've had this on my shelves for a couple of years, and only now picked it up. This book chronicling the history of the Soviet GULAG system, as well as what life was like within it, is certainly a heavy read, but it is extremely well-researched, thorough, and interesting.