Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Best of 2011 - Books

So!  Onto my favorite books this year where I actually had to use my eyes.

Keep in mind that the books I'm listing weren't necessarily published in 2011, I just stumbled upon them in 2011.

I find this list very interesting and fairly representative of the crazy array of genres I read this year.  I might also add this has something to do with the fact that I gave up nearly all ARCs and tours (a few squeaked through) and challenges.  I basically read whatever the hell I wanted.  And this is what I got...awesomeness.

Again, in no particular order:

1.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick.  This book may be for kids 9 and up, but it seems to collect fans of every age.  Part novel part storybook, this classic inspired my imagination by introducing both a famous maker of old black and white movies and the amazing invention of the automaton.  While it is as big as a doorstop, you will be able to read it in a few hours, and I might guess your jaw will be hanging open from cover to cover.

2.  Outlaw - Warren Kiefer.  I read this book for CB James' Western Month, but it was actually a re-read from my pre-blogging days.  And despite what you might think, this is not a book for men!  Our protagonist is a morally ambiguous but charismatic guy who escorts us through the Wild West at the turn of the century and beyond.  It is gripping and completely un-putdownable.

3.  Cutting For Stone - Abraham Verghese.  If I analyzed all the elements of a successful Sandy book, this one would not have qualified.  Orphans in Africa, raised by doctors, becoming doctors themselves, their destinies shaped by seemingly unimportant events.  The description didn't do anything for me, and I only read it because of book club.  But Verghese's writing pulled me in from the beginning, the characters capturing my heart. 

4.  The Doomsday Book - Connie Willis.  Time travel and The Plague!  Great characters!  A pace of plot that your little eyes can barely keep up with!  Read it so you can gush with the rest of us!

5.  The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard.  On the surface, this is a story about a girl who goes missing.  Beneath the surface, it is about a community (mostly the girl's male classmates) and how they deal with her loss, and how they deal with growing up.  It is unique for it's collective first person prose, and it won me over with all the familiar high school-isms that I completely related to.  People were hot and cold on this book, but I loved it.  

6.  What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty. When a middle-aged mother bonks her head and forgets the last ten years of her life, she is forced to examine how her life has deteriorated from her more earnest and innocent days of a decade prior.  This touching, extremely easy-to-read book gave me alot to think about. 

7.  This Is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper.  There seems to have been a surge of books about men bumbling through a life crisis with humor and humility.  This one caused belly laughs and spitting of drinks and some touching reflections on family.  I'm anxious to see how this one turns out on film.

8.  Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist.  I thought I was over vampires, but Lindqvist takes them to a whole new level, weaving in coming-of-age and bullying to make an unforgettable story.  And some really horrifying, toe-curling business with acid. 

9.  Exposed -  Kimberly Marcus.  This was my first experience with free verse, and no wonder I totally fell in love with this form of prose.  The story is a riveting one about one young high school girl and a tragedy that explodes around her.  Do yourself a huge favor, and set aside a couple of hours one day to appreciate this one.

10.  ALL THINGS NESBO!  I'm not going to list all my reviews here, but was the year of the Nesbo.  I read all of his translated books (except his latest "The Leopard") and became completely addicted to this drunken but dogged Norwegian police officer.  It was certainly the highlight of 2011!


There you have it, the fruits of my labor.  Have you read any of these, and what did you think?  My wish for 2012 is that I can continue to resist commitment and forge my own reading destiny!
  

34 comments:

Nymeth said...

Love 1 and 4 and clearly need to read more of your choices! Especially Nesbo.

Anna said...

I haven't read any of these, but now I'm thinking I must give Nesbo a try!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I REALLY want to read Cutting for Stone! I haven't read most of the ones on your list... I need to for sure.

Renee said...

Hi sandy, your 2011 print list has given me great ideas, I'm going to give most of them a try.... I've read This is where I leave you and What Alice forgot and I agree both 5 star reads! Can't wait to hear what you think of Steven King's new 1!
Renee

rhapsodyinbooks said...

My list is very different but only because most of them I read in a different year, except for Nesbo, who will be on my list as well!

Zibilee said...

I loved a few of these books as well, but most of them I haven't read. But that's ok, because now I have a comprehensive list of things I need to read in the new year! And I think there needs to be a concentrated effort to get more people to read Doomsday Book. It's such a great read, and I need to read it again!

Marce said...

I think the best is reading to your mood and whatever you choose instead of having to be on a schedule, great stuff.

I have 6, 7 and 8 on my Wishlist. I enjoyed Exposed also, verse novels are my simple pleasure. You must pick up Lisa Schroeder's verse novels, she is my favourite so far.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Loved Let the Right One In and it would probably make my list as well! Will need to compile that one this week. I also have The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø, so I'm looking forward to starting that soon.

Melissa said...

Hmmm, while I've heard of some of these, I haven't read any of them! Time to get cracking!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I loved Hugo this year. I also have Cutting for Stone on my book club's list for next year, so I can't wait to read that one!

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read Hugo Cabret after seeing the movie. I loved What Alice Forgot, but Cutting for Stone won't make my best of list.

Jenners said...

I must read this Hugo book! And I agree with you on What Alice Forgot. I'm planning to read The Doomsday Book due to your raving about it. As for Nesbo, we'll see if I fall for him like you did. Nemesis is coming up soon.

Jo-Jo said...

I haven't read any of these myself, but Cutting for Stone is definitely on my Must Read list!

Danette Haworth said...

I just read The Marriage Plot and loved it. Very much in the style of Anne Tyler and Sue Miller, both of whom I love.

Merry Christmas!

Carrie K. said...

I find it amazing that, in spite of how alike our reading tastes are, I've only read two of the books on your list! I loved Hugo and Doomsday Book. I really want to read Cutting for Stone - and Nesbo is definitely on my to-read list for 2012.

Julie P. said...

You make me feel so inadequate. I've only read a couple of these.

JoAnn said...

This is Where I Leave You is the funniest book I've read in years!! Loved 1 and 3, too.... especially 3.

heidenkind said...

OH BRIAN SELZNIK. <3333

Jenny said...

I'm so excited to read Cutting for Stone. I got it for my sister for Christmas and got myself a copy, hehe. Hopefully I'll read it soon. I was recently gifted What Alice Forgot and I am sooo looking forward to reading it. I remember your great review! I read This is Where I Leave You last year and loooved it as well!

Trisha said...

Hell yes for Hugo! Such a wonderful book. And someday I shall read Nesbo.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Since I'm sure I'll never get over vampires...been a fan since middle school...I'll go ahead and put Let the Right One In on my WishList. ;)

Amy said...

I haven't read any of these :(

Melissa said...

Of these I've only read Cutting for Stone and it was just ok to me...I'm adding The Doomsday Book to my TBR!

♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Melissa said...

Of these I've only read Cutting for Stone and it was just ok to me...I'm adding The Doomsday Book to my TBR!

♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Kathleen said...

I've read none of these and that actually makes me happy because I have all of these good books to look forward to (maybe in 2012?). You've never steered me wrong yet!

Melody said...

Enjoyed reading your post, Sandy! (And of course I need to get to those books which I haven't read from your list...)

Alyce said...

I've read three on your list (Hugo Cabret, What Alice Forgot & Doomsday). I have enjoyed all of Connie Willis's books, but have discovered that I can't read them back to back (with the exception of Blackout & All Clear which are really one book anyway) because her style can wear on me after a while. Which is really ironic because when I read them one at a time they are stellar.

C.B. James said...

Well, Outlaw did not make it to my list this year. :-( But I am glad to see that it held up well enough on the second reading to make it to your list. I did have fun with it.

farmlanebooks said...

I loved Hugo Cabret and am not surprised to see it listed as your favourite - I've given a copy of that book to every boy of an appropriate age I know! I also loved Cutting for Stone. I'm going to have to read When the Fates Will Find their Way and What Alice Forgot next year. :-) and maybe I'll try a novel in verse ....

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I read What Alice Forgot, but haven't read any of the others. It kills me just how varied these lists are. Absolutely no way to keep up. I do want to check out Hugo though, fairly soon.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Will you this less of me for saying I haven't read any of them? :( Still great opportunity to discover them (cup half full and all that)...

Gavin said...

Great list, Sandy. I've read Hugo Cabret and Cutting for Stone and loved both of them. Have a wonderful holiday!

Unruly Reader said...

Loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Doomsday Book, and This Is Where I Leave You. Will have to investigate some of these others!

Literary Feline said...

Always a pleasure to read your best of list, Sandy! I really liked Let the Right One In too. It was much more than I expected.

I really need to get around to reading Cutting For Stone. I've heard such great things about it. And Nesbo--must read. Why I haven't I already?!