Favorite books of 2011

Continuing with our “Favorite of 2011” series (read about our favorite albums here), I present our lists of favorite books of 2011.  We are both voracious readers and enjoyed our fair share of new books in 2011, especially Trisha, who is a book reviewer—as in reading and reviewing books is part of her full time job—so we put a lot of thought into our picks.  :)

Trisha’s Top 10

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Bossypants by Tina Fey
To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Ghost Lights by Lydia Millet

Honorable mentions: Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest; Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry; The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht; Boomerang by Michael Lewis; The Adults by Alison Espach; Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson; Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

2011 books still on my TBR: Swamplandia!; Zone One; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; The Astral by Kate Christensen; The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt; Blue Nights by Joan Didion.

Most overrated book of 2011: I think Dottie and I concur on this one: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Dottie’s Top 10

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
A Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate
Gypies by Koudelka/Aperture (photo book)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (audio book)

Honorable mentions: Most of the best books that I read in 2011 were actually written in 2010 or before and therefore were not eligible for this list.  Otherwise, they would have knocked off all but the top 3 (2010 was an amazing year for novels!).  They are: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Room by Emma Donoghue, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Great House by Nicole Krauss, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin, So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

2011 books still on my TBR: Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See.

We’d love to hear – what were your favorite books of 2011?

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22 thoughts on “Favorite books of 2011

  1. Cycler says:

    I just finished “The Submission”, and thought it was really well written. I liked “the Tiger’s Wife”, but not as mch as I thought I would, based on all the hype. “Room” from 2010 was something I enjoyed. Bossypants was great too.

    I’ve been on a john leCarre kick ( not 2011) but apropos the TTSS movie.

    I’m stuck about 100 pages into 1Q84′ and just started “Unbroken” from 2010. A standout of 2010 for me was “The thousand summers of Jacob De Zoet”
    I’m hoping to get “Death at Pemberly” soon from the library. Also am really interested in “Zone One”

  2. Kim says:

    I liked the Night Circus, at least as light reading :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Most of my reading from last year was non-current. I think that the only book that I finished that was published in 2011 was George RR Martin’s A Dance With Dragons which, honestly, I wouldn’t rank that highly (at least not until the author finishes the entire damn series) Aside from that, my top 5 would be:

    Kazuo Ishiguro – “Never Let Me Go”
    Bill Bryson – “In a Sunburned Country”
    David Benioff – “City of Thieves”
    Paolo Bacigalupi – “The Wind up Girl”
    James Hamilton-Paterson – “Cooking with Fernet Branca”

    • Dottie says:

      Trisha and I (and Mr. Dottie) are huge fans of City of Thieves!

      • LGRAB says:

        Yes! When, when, WHEN will David Benioff write another book? I have not heard a peep despite determined Googling. I guess I’ll just have to cave and start watching “Game of Thrones” to get a dose of him.


        • Anonymous says:

          oh beware, Game of Thrones as a stage for Benioff’s writing might be a bit of a disappointment (still a good series, imho, but the sort of dark humor that made City of Thieves so awesome is replaced with just being dark) … though there are some new scenes in the series that weren’t in the book that have his imprint all over them. They’re just a little few and far between.

          • LGRAB says:

            Beware of becoming addicted? or of bad TV? :)

            • Anonymous says:

              I wouldn’t call GoT (or Song of Ice and Fire) bad TV. It’s certainly a specific taste, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you require that fantasy fiction always be heroic andor nudity/bloody violence be used in tasteful and judicious quantities. But all that aside, it’s a fantastic deconstruction and skewering of a variety of heroic fantasy tropes and well adapted from the novel. I just say ‘beware’ in the sense that Benioff’s writing role was, imho, very secondary to Martin’s.

  4. Cherish48 says:

    Definitely favoriting this post to reference later when I’m looking for fiction books to read. I’m more of a nonfiction girl and find it hard to pick out fiction. Right now, though, I’m reading America Pacifica by Anna North and really enjoying it so far!
    Another book that I love is Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. It was actually written in 2009, but it was such a good book (had me bawling at the end) that I have to mention it.
    I’m also debating if I should finish the Abarat series. I started it in high school (the first book came out in 2002) but the last book in the series (the third) only came out this year. Clive Barker paints beautiful pictures to accompany the story — which actually inspired me to start painting a long time ago.

    Luckily I volunteer at a large library, so I have ready access to all the good books. :)

  5. What did you think of The Marriage Plot?

    • LGRAB says:

      I thought it was incredibly engaging and had a strong ending, and any book that provides a modern take on the tropes of Victorian fiction and a satire of academia and literary theory is automatically high in my esteem. But Dot wasn’t as won over as I was.

    • LGRAB says:

      Oh — it was also my first time reading Eugenides, if that counts for anything.

  6. Jennifer P-H says:

    I don’t have any list other than in my head, but recently I read the entire Bewitching Mysteries series by Madelyn Alt. Ghosties, ghoulies, a slightly neurotic heroine, small town people with small town agendas. In other words, fun, fun, fun! Slurped through it in a fortnight.

    Because of that, I was also led to Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. Lovely!

    • LGRAB says:

      Oh, GARDEN SPELLS is a very fun read.

      • Jennifer H says:

        If you liked Garden Spells, you should check out Alt’s mysteries, as well. They are both very “Practical Magic”-al in feeling, which I myself loved. I was so very happy when I found that the Bewitching series is ongoing! Seven so far with more on the way. I just bought Allen’s The Sugar Queen, in hopes that it is just as good as GS.

      • Jennifer P-H says:

        If you liked Garden Spells, you should check out Alt’s mysteries, as well. They are both very “Practical Magic”-al in feeling, which I myself loved. I was so very happy when I found that the Bewitching series is ongoing! Seven so far with more on the way. I just bought Allen’s The Sugar Queen, in hopes that it is just as good as GS.

  7. Kent Peterson says:

    My favorite book published in 2011 is T.C. Boyle’s “When the Killing’s Done” http://amzn.to/wYlisb

  8. Chrissy says:

    My favorite was definitely Bossypants by tina fey!!

  9. Sarah W. says:

    Favorite books published 2011-2010, read in 2011:
    The Marriage Plot, The Family Fang, The Night Circus (I didn’t like Great House), Swamplandia!, Bike Snob, In the Garden of Beasts, While Mortals Sleep, Brave New Knits, The Handmade Marketplace, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.

  10. David, malta says:

    i m addicted to Dean Koontz

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