This year I've read every one of the Hugo nominees for best novel, and was excited in turn when each of them was published. Since April 2006 (via my book tracker), I've read 10 unique books by Neil Gaiman (13 total readings), 9 by Charles Stross, 6 by Cory Doctorow, 5 by John Scalzi, and 4 by Neal Stephenson. I read the blogs of Gaiman, Stross, and Scalzi, and follow boingboing.net, of which Doctorow is a founding member and constant contributor. I would read Stephenson's blog in a heartbeat, if he had one.
If I had to choose, I'd give it to either Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, or The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. I'm not sure which, because they have very different strengths. Anathem is an intricately-realized world that forces the reader to engage with the differences between it and our own. The Graveyard Book is both resonant and elegant, taking few shortcuts in its treatment of the process of growing up. Cory Doctorow's Little Brother comes a close third, especially for its engagement with copyright law and civil rights. John Scalzi's offering, Zoe's Tale, was good, but not groundbreaking (especially in the context of the rest of the series). Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross, is (by his own admission) one of the weaker of his recent Hugo-nominated novels.
I'm both excited and disappointed by this slate. Excited, because it gives recognition to many of my favorite authors, but also disappointed, because it doesn't point out any new novels that I should be reading. Not that I have any time to read novels right now. Soon.
Luckily there is a lot of unfamiliar stuff under other categories, and much of it has been placed online by the publishers. I've already listened to the StarShipSofa podcast of "Exhalation", Ted Chiang's nominated short story. It's an elegant tale well worth 45 minutes, by one of my favorite short story writers.
You should all be reading science fiction. It's important!