An end of year best-of post is required for book bloggers, is it not? My favorite reads (including some books read, but not published in 2011) tended to be the ones that left me with something upon which to reflect. There are so many outstanding books that deserve readership and attention; the following are just a few that stood out as especially moving or original or delighting or thought-provoking. Reviews for most of them can be found on the title index over there <----- .
The reads from my best-of list for Armchair BEA (put together much earlier in the year) still remain some of my absolute favorites: in exceptionally written and powerful short stories: Matt Bell's How They Were Found, Patrick Somerville's The Universe In Miniature in Miniature, and Alan Heathcock's Volt; in enlightening and entertaining non-fiction: Carmela Ciuraru's Nom de Plume, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns; in transporting novels: Sarita Mandanna's Tiger Hills, and Meir Shalev's A Pigeon and a Boy.
To that list I would add: Bonnie Jo Campbell's striking and evocative novel Once Upon a River; Tim Kinsella's brilliant and bleak A Karaoke Singer's Guide to Self Defense; Steve Himmer's highly original and endlessly thought-provoking The Bee-Loud Glade...
...Elissa Schappell's powerful short stories Blueprints for Building Better Girls; Jessica Francis Kane's The Report, Bradford Morrow's beautiful and haunting The Diviner's Tale; Tea Obreht's charming The Tiger's Wife and Margaret Atwood's suspenseful and surprising The Blind Assassin.
I would also like to mention a few other writers and short story collections that captured my attention and imagination this year: Megan Mayhew Bergman's unique and moving Birds of a Lesser Paradise (book and review forthcoming in 2012), Xu Xi's sharply written, exciting and globe-trotting Access (review also forthcoming), Alissa Nutting's wildly imaginative Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, Tiff Holland's moving and colorfully charactered chapbook Betty Superman, Caitlyn Horrock's This is Not Your City, and Erika Dreifus' thoughtful and thought-provoking Quiet Americans.
I'm sure I've forgotten something... my apologies in advance.
What were some of your favorite reads this year?