And the Freebie goes to...
Best book I read this year:
For the longest time, I, like so many of you, was prejudiced against Longfellow. But Irmscher's interesting and lively book really made me reconsider and appreciate what HWL accomplished. It's time that Americans threw off the sophomoric hostility to him and regained their appreciation for an artist who succeeded not only in speaking to the diverse population of 19th Century America, but to all the generations since. He's certainly the anti-Whitman, but you can appreciate them both, and Irmscher's book is a great first step in doing so.
Best new discovery:
Stallings restores my faith in contemporary poets. Clever, insightful, passionate and thoughtful, a first-rate artist. Very, very highly recommended.
Best audio book this year: