Unlike movies, I rarely read books when they're first released, especially hardcover fiction, so my favorite reads in any given year are usually a mix of backlist and "new" trade paperbacks. I also like to mix things up throughout the year, so I rarely read as deeply in any one genre as I might like to, and my to-read pile grows ever higher as I discover new-to-me writers with deep backlists that I'll never have enough time to fully explore. Here are my five favorites (plus one honorable mention), in order of combined awesomeness and emotional impact, in what has arguably been one of the best years of reading in a long time, not just in quantity, but quality, too.
It will be interesting to see what other publisher can successfully go the Marvel route; with a $2B+ worldwide box office already in for the Avengers' on-screen storyworld (one that still bizarrely lives in total isolation from the comics), I'm guessing several will make the attempt within the next 2-3 years. Two gaming franchises I think have some serious transmedia potential are Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls and Activision's Skylanders, though you might be surprised by which one I think has the most potential.
The Influencing Machine is an insightful graphic manifesto that offers a broad, contextual overview of the history of media, recounted with a healthy sense of humor, and a refreshing undertone of optimism.
One of Godin's running themes throughout Poke is to be an initiator, and that risking failure is the best road to achieving success, and by making Poke the Box the first offering from The Domino Project, he's practicing what he preaches. He initiated, he shipped, and he pretty much failed to deliver a good book.
The Art of Immersion is a much-needed bridge to/from Henry Jenkins' seminal Convergence Culture, as Frank Rose crafts an engaging, insightful overview of how storytelling has evolved in the digital age that's accessible to all, whether enthusiast or skeptic.