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What were your favorite reads of 2011?

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1jbd1
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 1:11pm Top

I asked the staff to come list their top five books of 2011, and the results are here. What were your favorites?!

2lilkim714
Dec 14, 2011, 1:45pm Top

Is this to be books read in 2011 or books published in 2011?

3foggidawn
Dec 14, 2011, 1:55pm Top

I tried to limit myself to five, but I just couldn't do it. So, here are my top six.

Divergent by Veronica Roth -- a YA dystopia that, to my mind, is right up there with The Hunger Games
Entwined by Heather Dixon -- a YA fairy tale retelling with absolutely beautiful writing
Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt -- my personal pick for this year's Newbery (I'll be a little disappointed if it doesn't get at least an honor)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline -- A great dystopia, all about gaming and '80s nostalgia, which I keep recommending to all of my wonderfully geeky friends
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu -- Juvenile fantasy based on "The Snow Queen", well-plotted and beautifully written
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carlson -- YA fantasy with a great main character and a well-described setting

4tardis
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 1:59pm Top

Tough choice. I'll go with:
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant (I know that's two but they sort of go together)
Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cryoburn I bought in hardcover the day it came out, because that's what I do with Lois McMaster Bujold's books. It was great, as always. Feed and Deadline I bought because they were enthusiastically recommended on LT and elsewhere and they totally lived up to advance billing. Thirteenth Child I bought after reading the library's copy because I liked it so much. Cold Comfort Farm was from last year's SantaThing and I love it. Haven't bought Reamde yet but probably will.

5foggidawn
Dec 14, 2011, 2:02pm Top

#4 -- Did you know that the sequel to Thirteenth Child just came out earlier this year? Across the Great Barrier is the title.

6jbd1
Dec 14, 2011, 2:03pm Top

>2 lilkim714: - Read in 2011 is fine!

7scvlad
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 2:11pm Top

I'll play:

The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote - a spectacular work, and timely on this 150 anniversary.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain - I'd never read it before and was stunned by how good it was. I'm not sure why; it is Mark Twain after all ...

She-Wolves by Helen Castor - a very good survey of 4 medieval queens who wielded more than ordinary power.

And for 4 and 5 I'll choose a couple of graphic novels: Watchmen by Alan Moore which is a very original dystopian take on superheroes (I'd read it before, but read it again this year), and the Fables set by Bill Willingham, which is a remarkably original and compelling take on Fairy Tales and Legends.

8GirlMisanthrope
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 2:10pm Top

Top 5 this year:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Children in dystopia. I wanted to give it a read before the movie came out.

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding. Reading is supposed to be FUN, kids. Wooding gives us a rollicking great adventure in this sequel to Retribution Falls.

Life by Keith Richards. An amazing read. I love his digs at Mick.

The War for the Oaks, a classic by Emma Bull that I finally got around to reading. (Enjoyed Territory as well.)

The Selby is in Your Place a quirky inside peek at the hipster household.

9lilkim714
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 2:15pm Top

>6 jbd1:

In that case:

I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
The Pirate King by Laurie R. King
Prophesy and Heresy by S.J. Parris
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
The Alienist by Caleb Carr

I picked 7 because I just couldn't narrow it down

edit: actually really it is 8

10jbd1
Dec 14, 2011, 2:18pm Top

Don't worry - I had a very hard time picking 5, too. On December 31 every year I pick my top ten fiction and non-fiction, so picking just five, and with a couple weeks' worth of reading to do, was difficult!

11bertilak
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 2:23pm Top

China Miéville: Embassytown -- an action-packed novel of ideas.

Patti Smith: Just Kids -- living a good life, eschewing ressentiment

James Tooley: The beautiful tree -- don't like what bureaucrats do to your schools? Start your own.

Stephen Mitchell editor and translator: The Book of Job -- the mightiest poem ever.

James P. Blaylock: The Knights of the Cornerstone -- Blaylock titrates the right balance of allegory and whimsy.

12calm
Dec 14, 2011, 2:22pm Top

In no particular order

When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman - very good historical fiction
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville - impressively imaginative. The rest of the Bas-Lag trilogy was pretty impressive too!
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor - very readable account of four remarkable Medieval women. The best of the non-fiction I have read this year
The Crippled God by Steven Erikson - brilliant conclusion to the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

I'll hold off on the fifth book as there are still a couple of weeks to go and there might be another knock-out read in the TBR stack:)

13scvlad
Dec 14, 2011, 2:25pm Top

Glad to see the two Miéville books. I just got one as a SantaThing and looking forward to digging into it!

14susiesharp
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 2:39pm Top

Ok couldn't pick a top five had to go with top 10

Sarah’s Key by, Tatiana de Rosnay
Snowflower and the Secret Fan by, Lisa See
Madame Tussaud by, Michelle Moran
Revolution by, Jennifer Donnelly
The Bird Sisters by, Rebecca Rasmussen
River marked by, Patricia Briggs
The Peach Keeper by, Sarah Addison Allen
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by, Rebecca Skloot
The King's Speech by, Mark Logue
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by, Ransom Riggs

15Bowerbirds-Library
Dec 14, 2011, 2:39pm Top

Love Among the Butterflies by Margaret Fountaine
Butterflies and Later Loves by Margaret Fountaine
While Flocks Last by Charlie Elder
Joseph Banks by Patrick O'Brien
The Garden of the Gods by Gerald Durrell

A bit of a real natural history year! The Durrell book, the last of the Corfu trilogy was really wonderful!

16sunny
Dec 14, 2011, 2:52pm Top

17whitrichardson
Dec 14, 2011, 2:53pm Top

Hmm... these are my top 5 books read in 2011:

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
K Blows Top by Peter Carlson
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Honor Thy Father by Gay Talese

19tardis
Dec 14, 2011, 3:00pm Top

#5 - YES - have Across the Great Barrier on reserve at library.

20erinclark
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 3:25pm Top

22KindleKapers
Dec 14, 2011, 3:48pm Top

23klarusu
Dec 14, 2011, 4:06pm Top

Oh so hard to pick 5 and with a couple of reading weeks to go too, but here goes:

Non-Fiction
The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
I'm still reading this but it's a truly fascinating and engaging biography of cancer.
Wired: The Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward
A meticulously researched portrait of a very troubled man.

Fiction
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
This snuck up on me & took me by surprise - I couldn't put it down.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.
Spooky in a good, old fashioned way. I listened to this on audio on my iPod in bed, dozed off & woke up at one bit that spooked me so much I had to put the light on ;-)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
Hands down my favourite audiobook of the year. Different class to the rest of her books. Innovative, imaginative & brutal - beautifully written too. Don't bother with The Hunger Games, read this instead!

Graphic Novel
Marzi by Marzena Sowa.
Biographical comic describing life in communist Poland & the fall of the communist government through the eyes of a child. So, so accurate. I laughed out loud at some bits.

OK, I didn't quite manage to keep to 5 ...

24-Eva-
Dec 14, 2011, 4:16pm Top

Ooh, lots of good suggestions here!!!

My 5 top rated for the year are:

Embassytown and Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. What can I say, the man is a genius.
Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin. Difficult to pick one in the series since Rebus became a big favorite of mine this year, but this installment was really top notch.
Cirkeln by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren. Surprising showing from a Swedish debut author duo.
The Emperor of Lies (org. title De fattiga i Łódź) by Steve Sem-Sandberg. My first read of the year, which turned out to be a punch-in-the-gut book.

My current read, Kraken (also by China Miéville), will most likely end up in the top too.

25Stbalbach
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 4:32pm Top

I was mostly into nonfiction this year, here are five favorites:

1. Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory over the West - Favorite book of year. Why is no one reading?! Should be best-seller, as good as Batavia's Graveyard (same era and setting). Jared Diamond raved about it.

2. Shadow Divers - Gripping, movie coming out soon. Better than The Perfect Storm. Audiobook is great.

3. Rat Island - hopeful, fascinating and satisfying - also use Google Maps for an exotic trip to uninhabited islands where you'll save entire species from extinction by killing off rats and pigs, great fun.

4. Europe Between the Oceans -- European history 10,000 BC to about 2000 BC was totally unknown to me. This is the best introduction.

5. More Money Than God -- a history of the Hedge Fund industry, more compelling than it sounds. Epic stories of wealth creation and loss.

26marell
Dec 14, 2011, 5:22pm Top

Sorry, I have to separate non-fiction from fiction as well, and I feel I've left out a few; not necessarily in order:

NON-FICTION:

Empire of the Summer Moon by (S.C. Gwynne) Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
97 Orchard An Edible History of Five Immigrant Familes in One New York Tenement by (Jane Ziegelman)
Gellhorn, A Twentieth Century Life by (Caroline Moorhead)
A Mountain of Crumbs, a Memoir by (Elena Gorokhova)
Pearl Buck in China, Journey to the Good Earth by (Hilary Spurling)

FICTION:

The Color of Lightening by (Paulette Jiles)
The Invisible Bridge by (Julie Orringer)
Company of Liars by (Karen Maitland)
Salvation City by (Sigrid Nunez)
Silver Pigs by (Lindsey Davis). The first but definitely not last. I can hardly wait to read the rest in the series.

27jbd1
Dec 14, 2011, 5:23pm Top

Nobody needs to feel sorry - post your favorites, as many as you like! :-)

28marell
Dec 14, 2011, 5:26pm Top

Thank you for that, Jeremy!

30Grammath
Edited: Dec 14, 2011, 6:34pm Top

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - I don't think Franzen does anything terribly original, but there's few out there who are better at constructing hugely readable novels.

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut - why hasn't this man won the Booker Prize yet? This isn't his best, but average Galgut is streets ahead of most others.

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black - my first exposure to anything by the Irish writer John Banville. I can safely say it won't be my last. Superior crime fiction set in Dublin in the 1950s.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - after the (slight) misfire that was The Night Watch, Waters is well and truly back on form here, evoking postwar Britain as well as she did the Victorian era.

Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap, proof it is possible to be fruity and soapy at the same time.

An honourable mention must go toGreat House by
Nicole Krauss, sombre but artfully constructed and full of polished prose.

I'm pleased to see a lot of love for China Mieville on this thread too.

31Bookmarque
Dec 14, 2011, 6:45pm Top

I lump all my first-reads together regardless of genre and this year the top books are all fiction -

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Sprawling, epic, devious, gripping. What’s not to love?

2. Dr. Haggard’s Disease by Patrick McGrath (1994)
The narrator may be unreliable, but McGrath delivers book after great book.

3. The Scapegoat by Daphne DuMaurier (1957)
If all you’ve read is Rebecca go out and get this novel.

4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2009)
Memorable not only for its cast of distinctive and intriguing characters, but for the location itself

5. Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter (2008)
Carter goes from strength to strength - pitch perfect, no gimmicks.

32thornton37814
Edited: Jan 1, 2012, 9:14am Top

I think I'll do 5 for Fiction and 5 for Non-Fiction since I'm currently reading Book #220 for the year.

FICTION
1. The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
2. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
3. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
4. Windflower by Gabrielle Roy
5. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

NON-FICTION
1. Tupelo Honey Cafe by Elizabeth Sims
2. Was American Founded as a Christian Nation? by John Fea
3. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg
4. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
5. The Photographs of Marion Post Wolcott by Marion Post Wolcott

I could have easily done 10 in Fiction! There are still at least 5 that I wish had made my list that didn't!

33lilkim714
Dec 14, 2011, 8:16pm Top

>32 thornton37814:..im so jealous..im on book 194 for the year..and here i thought i was doing good..lol..congrats

34aulsmith
Dec 14, 2011, 8:33pm Top

Poetry:

Lucille Clifton Terrible Stories

Play:

Christopher Fry The Lady's not for Burning It's such a shame Fry's no longer popular.

Novel:

Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness Didn't read this in college, which is good, as it would have been wasted on me then.

Non-Fiction:

Mike Davis Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster With most non-fiction I go looking for a book with certain kinds of information. However, with this one, I picked it solely by title. There is no way I would have ever conceived that a book like this existed.

Seconding lilithcat on Justin Spring's Secret Historian

I also was very impressed with Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch and Norah Vincent's Voluntary Madness. I'm kind of a sucker for Nelly Bly type investigative reporting.

35barney67
Edited: Dec 22, 2011, 2:54pm Top

A very good year. Five is out of the question. This is the year I rediscovered Tolkien and I kept reading and reading…so I'm going to include more:

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
The Road to Middle Earth: How Tolkien Created A Mythology by Tom Shippey
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football by John J. Miller
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks
The Conservatives by Patrick Allitt

Fiction:
Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe
Home Fires by Gene Wolfe
The Troy trilogy by David Gemmell
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield
The Paper Grail by James Blaylock
To The Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Look Back All The Green Valley by Fred Chappell
Ancestors and Others by Fred Chappell

36ktbarnes
Dec 14, 2011, 11:12pm Top

I'll try to limit mine to five, but I don't know if I can do it! This was a year in which I "discovered" beloved authors. Great year for it!

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin - I read this and then immediately went out and bought its sequels. I just finished Mary Ann in Autumn. What am I going to do now??
Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman - I devoured almost everything Penman after this book, including this year's Lionheart.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg - I saw the movie when I was a kid and it stayed with me. The book, however, is just amazing!
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor- Beautiful writing. Just loved it.
Katherine by Anya Seton - I cried while reading this.

Honorable Mentions:
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz - He is so funny and informative!
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - Read it in 2 days... riiiight before the show aired.
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - Can't wait for the movie!
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde - I am so happy Thursday Next is back!

40allthesepieces
Dec 15, 2011, 3:52am Top

I’m one of the people who didn’t get started on A Song of Ice and Fire until the HBO series came out. But then I got to read/devour all five right in a row, without waiting years for them to come out, like the rest of you. Who’s laughing now?


I didn't start reading them yet, either. :)

Oh, my goodness. It looks like I've only read ten (!) books this year. I knew that number was going to fall into the tank when I started working 60 hours a week. How embarrassing!

So I won't have five, and those I'll list certainly aren't the best I've ever read, but here are three that I enjoyed:

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
This just seemed to me like such a unique take on an increasingly popular genre. I absolutely loved how the author was able to pull parts of a story from old, bizarre photographs.

Seekers: The Quest Begins
OK. Another fluffy fantasy series to get into.

Brave New World
Really, I didn't think I'd like this book. I didn't really like it as I was reading it. The writing was fantastic and so realistic, but the story barely plodded along. But then the final chapters offered me so much to think about. And the last line...wow...will probably haunt me for a long time.

41landslide
Dec 15, 2011, 5:50am Top

My top 5 this year:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (1999)

Honorable Mention:
The Switch by Sandra Brown (2000)

As you can see not even one was published in 2011...

42Booksloth
Dec 15, 2011, 6:48am Top

I'm trying to keep my list to books read for the first time in 2011 because otherwise the rereads would take over completely. Here are mine:
Callisto - Torsten Kroll
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver
The Disappeared - Kim Echlin
The House of Special Purpose - John Boyne
Cham - Jonathan Trigell

Okay, I give in - top 3 rereads The Crimson Petal and the White, South Riding and Les Liaisons Dangereuses

43mooingzelda
Dec 15, 2011, 8:01am Top

Mine's a cheat's list with trilogies counted as one! In no particular order:

- Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
- Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (I read the other two books in this series this year as well, but preferred this book by far)

44Cecrow
Dec 15, 2011, 8:26am Top

Wow, so much variety in people's tastes and lists - that's what LibraryThing's all about!

A Passage to India - excellent story, excellent writing
A Dance with Dragons - waited for this forever, and it was worth it
The Diary of a Young Girl - finally got around to it, very glad I did
Swallows and Amazons - read it to my son, enjoyed it as much or more than he did
Bridge of Birds - best Asian-setting fantasy I've read (and funny to boot)

Can't help inserting honourable mentions to Black Like Me, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Watchmen, Night, Kon-Tiki and New York.

45etxgardener
Dec 15, 2011, 8:41am Top

I love these lists. I've already written down some titles I want to read. Here's my favorites from this past year:

In The Garden of Beasts by Eric Larson
Greater Journey:The Amerians in Paris by David McCullough
Cocktail Hourf Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Heminiway's Boat by Paul Hendrickson

46TLCrawford
Dec 15, 2011, 11:11am Top

A few of these I find it hard to believe I waited this long to read. The list is in order of publication and I have a few more than five.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. Philadelphia, 1776

Rankin, John. Letters on American slavery addressed to Mr. Thomas Rankin, merchant at Middlebrook, Augusta Co., Va. Boston. Garrison & Knapp. 1833

Freehling, William W. The road to disunion. v. 1, Secessionists at bay, 1776-1854. New York: Oxford University Press. 1990

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph . Silencing the past: power and the production of history. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 1995.

Blackburn, Robin, Abraham Lincoln, et.al. An Unfinished Revolution. London: Verso, 2011.

Nichols, John. The "S" Word. London: Verso, 2011.

47artturnerjr
Edited: Dec 15, 2011, 11:53am Top

Including rereads, it's:

NOVEL - The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

NOVELLA - The Machine Stops - E.M. Forster

SHORT STORY - "The Deathbird" - Harlan Ellison; "Nethescurial" - Thomas Ligotti (tie)

POEM - "The Centaur" - Clark Ashton Smith

PLAY - James Blish's imagining of the fictional play THE KING IN YELLOW in his short story "More Light"

GRAPHIC NOVEL - Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3 - Jack Kirby and Stan Lee; David Boring - Daniel Clowes (tie)

NON-FICTION: Life - Keith Richards

48reading_fox
Dec 15, 2011, 11:53am Top

Not many 5* ratings for me. Out of 116 books read this year to date (if I've remembered to tag them correctly) 11 made it to 5* Of these some authors had multiple entries but the top 5 are probably:

Stormed Fortress
I shall wear midnight
Tales for Canterbury
The best of Gerald Durrell
Swildon's Hole

With an honourable mention to CJ Cherryh's continued Foreigner series. Karen Miller and Stephen Donaldson

Also worthy of noting (to avoid) are several ER (and a few non-ER) 1 and 1.5* books!

49lahochstetler
Dec 15, 2011, 1:09pm Top

Non-Fiction:
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea- Barbara Demick
9 Highland Road: Sane Living for the Mentally Ill - Michael Winerip

Fiction:
Bobbin Up- Dorothy Hewett
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson

50magnumpigg
Dec 15, 2011, 3:24pm Top

My choices are based upon if I can even remember anything at all about the book.
I keep "years read" tags, so I find it funny the number of books I rated high this year, yet I can't remember them. (Embarrassing, huh?)
Then, on the other hand, some books linger; I don't just remember them...they linger. And some of those were rated midland to high.
So, here is what lingers fondly for the year:
Top read, hands down: The Cold Kiss by John Rector
Quickly followed by: Midnight Solitaire by Greg F. Gifune
The first three in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden -- Yes, I know, 3 books; but they felt and read as one.
Mandibles by Jeff Strand -- Great B-movie fun.
Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson -- I read a lot of zombie books (quirky fun); of the 14 read this year (so far) this was the most fun.

51kellyslist
Dec 15, 2011, 4:23pm Top

Night strangers by Christopher Bohjalian
Trick of the light by Louise Penny
Paris wife by Paula McLain
Dog who knew too much by Spencer Quinn
Before I go to sleep by S.J. Watson

Though I'm reading 11/22/63 right now and also listening to the Night Circus and they are about to be favorites of the year. Jim Dale reading Night Circus is almost like having another Harry Potter book.

52jnwelch
Dec 15, 2011, 5:09pm Top

This is a tough one, isn't it? Here are my tip-top 5, although a bunch of others are clamoring to get on the list:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

53karen_o
Dec 15, 2011, 6:30pm Top

The most important thing, for me, is that I've picked up 5 titles from all the lists above of books I hadn't previously heard about that are already on my wish list (or requested from the library).

This was not a stellar reading year for me; there weren't any books that made me just jump up and down with joy for reading them. But there were several that were very, very good and they are, in no particular order:

Room by Emma Donoghue despite what would seem to be subject matter almost too painful to read and a narrative view that just couldn't work, the author does an incredible job with both. In fact, I believe it was the choice of 5-year old Jack as narrator that made the book bearable.

Faith by Jennifer Haigh another one with subject matter that I just wouldn't have believed could be made palatable but the author takes another approach, shows another side to at least one of the stories we've heard in the news, and delivers a terrific read.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld extremely well-done fictionalized character study that really demonstrates the intricacies of a marriage and how Laura Bush just might have ordered her life.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson is sort of a "Best in Genre" choice for me. When reading mystery or suspense I'm just there for the ride, not spending a lot of energey trying to figure out the intricacies of plot. Perhaps that explains why I was so surprised by the end of this story, but... perhaps it's just a darned good book.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell who is brilliant. 'Nuff said.

54becbart
Dec 15, 2011, 6:34pm Top

This was a surprisingly tough list! My top 5 books of 2011 in the order I read them are:

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
When you reach me by Rebecca Stead
Spiral by Paul McEuen
One day by David Nicholls
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I am heartily enjoying reading everyone else's lists as well, and they reiterate the much-stated fact that I need to get around to reading A Game of Thrones as soon as possible.

55becbart
Dec 15, 2011, 6:38pm Top

@51 kellyslist: Jim Dale reads The Night Circus?! I only finished the book last week but knowing Dale is reading it will have me hunting down the audiobook now. Thanks for mentioning that! :)

56mabith
Edited: Dec 15, 2011, 7:53pm Top

Snuff - Terry Pratchett
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth - Xiaolu Guo
Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
Palace Walk - Naguib Mahfouz
Dreams of Joy - Lisa See

Those were immensely hard to choose! I have a hard enough time just choosing my favorite for each month, let alone narrowing it down (and still had to bump it up to six).

57sturlington
Dec 16, 2011, 9:52am Top

I read 5 books in 2011 that I rated 5 stars. This is very unusual for me; usually, I'm lucky to read one 5-star book in a year. But three of them were rereads, so they were kind of givens. I think they make a good mix of books, though. They were:

Five Great Short Stories by Anton Chekhov -- classic; short stories

Brighten the Corner Where you Are by Fred Chappell -- Southern fantasy-like fiction; reread

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns -- thriller; reread

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster -- classic; reread

And my favorite book of the year is the one I just finished reading yesterday...

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell -- science fiction

58riida
Dec 16, 2011, 10:17am Top

what a nice way to look back at one's reading year :) i probably did not read as much as i should have this year, but here are those that made me want to grab random strangers in the bus/train/market/public toilet and say "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!"

Candide by Voltaire
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

hmmm...that's 6...sorry, i didnt have the heart to cut off one more :)

btw, just for everybody's peace of mind, i didnt really grab anyone :)

60ReneeGKC
Edited: Dec 16, 2011, 9:40pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

61Booksloth
Dec 17, 2011, 5:38am Top

#58 Know what, riida? I've never much fancied being grabbed in a public toilet by anyone but if they followed the grabbing up with 'You must read this' I think it might count as one of my better ever toilet experiences. And so much for my resolution to buy fewer books next year, this thread has capsized that little idea for sure.

62clif_hiker
Edited: Dec 17, 2011, 6:19am Top

pretty tough to choose... I read a lot of great books this year

here goes (in no particular order)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
1776 by David McCullough
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

honorable mention

Pandora's Star by Peter Hamilton
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Contract Surgeon by Dan O'Brien

books that other people liked a lot but didn't make my list (not that I didn't like them... )

Unbroken
State of Wonder

63Athabasca
Dec 17, 2011, 8:23am Top

I found this difficult too - LT has introduced me to so many great titles this year. However, the top 6, in no order...

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Another great Miles book)
The uncommon reader by Alan Bennett (Hilarious)
Death comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (Fantastic writer I had never heard of before LT)
South Riding by Winifred Holtby (Another amazing writer I had never encountered)
River marked by Patricia Briggs (Great continuation of a fine series)
Bury your dead by Louise Penny (Great continuation of an amazing series. I can't understand why this author isn't better known in the UK)

64hailelib
Edited: Dec 18, 2011, 9:38am Top

The books that stand out are

Fiction:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (and its sequels)
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Several from The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by McCall Smith -- Both my husband and I are working our way through this wonderful series.
Soulless and its sequels by Gail Carriger
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie - also enjoyed by Jim

Nonfiction:

When They Severed Earth from Sky by E. J. W. Barber
The 10,000 Year Explosion by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending
Not So Big Remodeling by Sarah Susanka
These were also read and raved about by my husband.

Additionally, I liked The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's obsession and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendell and Soul Made Flesh; the discovery of the brain by Carl Zimmer

Tricia

65Sinetrig
Edited: Dec 18, 2011, 8:31pm Top

66lottpoet
Edited: Dec 20, 2011, 7:59am Top

I didn't read many books in 2011 and even less stuck with me. My favorites:

The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson
Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay

The Gargoyle was one librarything kept recommending for various other books I had read, insisting I would love it. I finally broke down and read it and librarything was so very right. Actually, since then I've been taking the recommendations way more seriously.

Under Heaven was my first Kay book. I don't like historical fiction so I figured his books wouldn't do anything for me. I read this book because I was trying to read the whole shortlist from the Mythopoeic awards. I was blown away by this book. Enjoyed every moment of it.

67riida
Dec 20, 2011, 8:24am Top

>66 lottpoet:, oh my! you have just reminded me of the gargoyle. its one of my all time faves! :)

“Love is as strong as death, as hard as hell”

arrrrrggggggggggghhh!

that's me, btw, writhing in indulgent pain ;p

68AngelaB86
Dec 20, 2011, 8:38am Top

I read mostly fiction this year, and have only completed 34 books. Not many really stood out for me, but here are the ones that did:

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
The Hunger Games Trilogy
World War Z: an oral history of the zombie apocalypse.

I have a couple books I'll probably finish before the year ends, but I don't know how they'll measure up.

69ijustgetbored
Edited: Dec 20, 2011, 5:13pm Top

In no order (a few already mentioned, and more than five because math was never my strong suit):

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

In no case did I manage, if I did write a review of these, to write a good review, because I liked them so much that I couldn't articulate very well how much I did like them.

70bell7
Dec 23, 2011, 9:28am Top

Here are my favorite books of 2011 - I unintentionally ended up with five in each category, but this was just from a cursory look at the books I read this year and how strongly I remembered and still think about what I read:

Fiction
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Nonfiction
The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Little Princes by Conor Grennan
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Children's and Young Adult
Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of Night by Joyce Sidman
Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Also, I'm listening to Unbroken right now, and if I manage to finish it before the end of this year, I suspect it will make its way only this list.

71bbellthom
Dec 23, 2011, 8:06pm Top

My favorites for this year in no particular order were:

Sense and Sensibility- The first Jane Austen book I have read.

The Heretics Daughter - A book about the Salem Witch Trials which someone on LT recommended.

Wednesday Wars and I'm Okay for Now - Probably the two books that I laughed the most while reading.

Life - Written by Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. A book I didn't think I would like as much as I did.

Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children - Another LT recommendation that was wonderful.

I'm finishing up a few more but I don't think they will make my favorites list.

72susiesharp
Dec 23, 2011, 8:45pm Top

>71bbellthom- I too enjoyed Life way more than I thought I would I know Bossypants is on alot of people's best of list but I enjoyed Life way more!

73GabrielF
Dec 24, 2011, 10:34pm Top

So far the book published in 2011 that I've enjoyed the most has been Arguably by Christopher Hitchens. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet was excellent but published in 2010.

Favorite books read this year but published in previous years:
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
I Married a Communist by Philip Roth
Cat and Mouse by Gunter Grass
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

74CrazyOkie
Dec 28, 2011, 12:25pm Top

Top 5 in 2011, in order
1) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
2) Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
3) A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
4) No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan
5) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Honorable Mentions:
Known & Unknown: A Memoir by Don Rumsfeld
Feast of Crows by George R. R. Martin
The Plague by Albert Camus
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
Capitalism & Freedom by Milton Friedman
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

One book I'd like to include but can't yet, as I haven't finished it. It would go to the top of the list for favorites, though: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. It is an extraordinary book.

What can I say; I'm a fiscal conservative and I thought it high time I read some books by fellow conservatives as well as start on Ayn Rand's novels. Biggest surprises were No God But God which taught me a lot about Islam and 1491. 2012 favorites will likely include Atlas Shrugged but also 1493, A Dance With Dragons and 11/22/63!

75GCPLreader
Dec 28, 2011, 12:35pm Top

My 5 favorite novels of the year:

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

--a big thank you to my public library for lending me all the books that made my reading year so wonderful! --Jenny

76crazy4reading
Dec 29, 2011, 8:59am Top

Okay this is going to be hard. I hate trying to think of the books I read for the year let alone deciding if they are one of my top 5.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

1. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory I loved this book more than Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
2. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay; I just loved this book!
3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess; Very interesting read.
4. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus; I love reading about Native Americans
5. Paper Towns by John Green; One that was recommended by friends.

My one read that I always love and is my all time favorite book is:

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton; I read it again this year but didn't want to include it in the top 5 since it was a re-read and I would read it every year!



78mckait
Dec 30, 2011, 4:05pm Top

I have been thinking about this and trying to make a decision.
I am pretty sure that my number one read will be Night Circus.
As for the next several? No idea, no time to really decide..

79Iudita
Dec 30, 2011, 11:28pm Top

I love browsing these lists. It's so interesting to see what other people with different tastes are enjoying.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Eagle and the Raven by Pauline Gedge
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander

80mdexter
Dec 31, 2011, 6:37pm Top

Couldn't narrow it down, and in no particular order:

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Something for Nothing by David Anthony
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce
West of Here by Jonathan Evison
When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Room by Emma Donoghue
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

81mallinje
Jan 1, 2012, 7:37pm Top

Probably my favorite was The She-Wolf of France by Maurice Druon. I read all 6 in the Accursed Kings Series in 2011.

82detailmuse
Jan 3, 2012, 2:38pm Top

One novel:
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver -- the fictional biography of a family whose teen son carries out a school shooting; fascinating, disturbing, outstanding.

And nine nonfiction, in alphabetical order:
Alinea by Grant Achatz -- a tour of molecular gastronomy and a phenomenal restaurant; exceeds 5 stars

A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross -- part memoir, part instruction manual, part expose on eldercare and financing

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace -- mix of entertaining and erudite 1990s essays on the popular culture

Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz -- exploration of why we err and how we feel about being wrong

Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton -- memoir of a woman’s path to chef/restaurateur and writer

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard -- collection of coming-of-age personal essays, where growing up is as likely to occur at thirty as at thirteen or three.

My Own Country by Abraham Verghese – memoir of a doctor treating early AIDS patients in small-town Tennessee

Radioactive by Lauren Redniss -- nonfiction vignettes that form a biography of Marie Curie and of radiation itself; generously illustrated with art created by “cyanotype printing” that evokes a sense of radiation

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand -- biography of Louis Zamperini: juvenile near-delinquent, Olympic runner, WWII prisoner of war, inspiring human

83mabith
Jan 3, 2012, 10:34pm Top

This is my favorite thread! I realized all the books I had lined up for January and February were non-fiction, so I desperately needed this thread to add some fiction to the winter.

84librararian
Jan 9, 2012, 12:58am Top

Impractical Jokes by Charlie Pickering

Love Honour & O'Brien by Jennifer Rowe

Me of the never never by Fiona O'Loughlin

Virals by Kathy Reichs

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

85chrissybob
Jan 11, 2012, 10:38am Top

This was hard - I think my top 5 looks like this (until I remember something else!)

1. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Attwood
I think this one has become one of my absolute all time favourites.

2. Room - Emma Donoghue
This is the only book I have taken to work and hidden in a car park to finish - obviously making myself late for work!!

3. Never Let Me Go - Kazua Ishiguro
My first Ishiguro - loved it and his others that I read in 2011 but this one was my favourite.

4. Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence (completely took me by surprise that I like this so much!)

5. Legend - David Gemmell
Another one that I read because it was on the 1001 list and completely surprised myself by loving it. My husband had to run to the shop to get some wine when I was done - I was gutted!!!

86laytonwoman3rd
Jan 18, 2012, 4:05pm Top

Top Fiction Reads of 2011

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht
Gates of November by Chaim Potok
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Top Non-Fiction Reads of 2011
It wasn't a big non-fiction year for me, and I mean to remedy that in 2012. But these were the best of what I did read --all memoirs, as you will see.

West With the Night by Beryl Markham
My Nine Lives by Leon Fleisher
A House in Flanders by Michael Jenknis
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Honorable Mention: These are the one that surprised me, because I enjoyed them despite the fact that their authors are not among my favorites:

Washington Square by Henry James
I Lock My Door Upon Myself by Joyce Carol Oates
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

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