Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favorite Reads of 2011

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?



  1. Some of my favorites have been The Story of Beautiful Girl and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I enjoyed the Armchair BEA as well, I'm hoping to attend the actual BEA in 2012.

  2. Those sound like great reads, would love to read Miss Peregrine. (Would also love to get to BEA!)

  3. I think this is one of the most interesting and surprising lists I've seen from the year's end. I feel like most of these books come from a quieter school and weren't as hyped up as many others (well... with the exception of The Tiger's Wife and I guess Margaret Atwood). Still glad to see A Pigeon and a Boy on your list, looking forward to doing some more research on the other titles.

  4. Thanks so much! did read many of the quieter books this year, some of the "bigger" (noisier?) books I read (even while very well done/impressive) didn't leave me with as much to chew on as these did.


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