It's near enough to the end of 2011 that I want to go ahead and do my year-end review of favorites:
Favorite fiction: Annabel, by Kathleen Winter. The story of an intersex child growing up in rural Labrador; Winter explores not just gender, but how being different affects both the individual and the people around her. Annabel is a quietly moving novel of pain and self-discovery.
Favorite non-fiction (philosophy): Phenomenology of Perception, by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This was a philosophy-heavy year for me. Nevertheless, this book (which I've wanted to read for over a decade) stands out as profound, fascinating, revolutionary and necessary.
Favorite non-fiction (history): The Killing of Crazy Horse, by Thomas Powers. Crazy Horse is one of my few heroes; Powers's book is a worthy supplement to the magisterial Crazy Horse: A Life by Kingsley M. Bray. Powers's especially focuses on the last few months leading up to Crazy Horse's murder.
Favorite non-fiction (religion): Why I Am a Five Percenter, by Michael Muhammad Knight. Knight's book is part memoir, part survey of Islamic thought, and part polemic for the validity of the Five Percenter path. It is impossible to summarize, but it is so well thought out and so beautifully written, I recommend it to anyone interested in either Islam or the Five Percenters.
Favorite non-fiction (self-help or other general usefulness): The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. I've gone on and one about this one. If you want to lose weight, I recommend this book (get the 2011 edition).
Favorite album (rock): There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret., by Bring Me the Horizon. BMTH thrash hard, and write songs that seep into your soul.
Favorite album (country): The Band Perry, by The Band Perry. These siblings are quite talented, play multiple instruments, and write songs that bridge old bluegrass to 21st century sensibilities.
Favorite album (surprise): Dancin' 'Til Sunrise: Round Dance Songs Recorded "Live", Northern Cree and Friends (Vol. 7). One of the negatives of no longer having music stores around is missing out on the joy of randomly finding something on the shelves that you wouldn't begin to think of searching for online. I came across this album at a used CD store, bought it on a whim, and I adore it. There is energy, humor and ebullition on this album. I've used songs from it in my playlists. [Hint: give "C.M.T." or "Da Might As Well" a try.]
Favorite movie (in theaters) [tie]: Hanna, A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas. Hanna is a thrilling action film with a kick-ass female lead. Harold and Kumar 3 made me laugh like an idiot. 'Nuff said.
Favorite movie (rental): Attack the Block. A British sci-fi film which starts with thugs and ends with heroes, and along the way turns an improbable circumstance into something almost believable. I recommend it for the amazing cast alone, but the story is equally excellent.