27 December 2011

Top 10 for 2011

January 2011 marked the first time in years in which I actually recorded in a journal the title and author of every book I read.  Not coincidentally, my participation in Goodreads and my own book blogging rose exponentially.  The last time I had recorded the books I read (and by "books read" I include both unabridged audio books and novel-length fanfiction pieces) was in 2002, and that year I read 113 books.  Not wanting to set myself up for failure, my Goodreads goal for 2011 was 125 books, so I was quite gratified to see (as of this writing on 23 December) that my tally actually came to 148, with one week left to hit the Big 150.  I might just make it.

Thus my deliberation over my Top Ten for the year--I have never truly read as many terrific books in a single year as I have read in 2011.  My personal parameters to be included on this list is that the book had to be published either in hardcover or paperback in 2011, which eliminates a good number of backlist books, not-yet-published books, and some excellent pieces of fanfiction.  Here's how my overall reading stacked up:

Fiction: 129
Nonfiction: 19
Audio: 13
YA: 32
Fanfiction: 10 (I did not count re-reads within in the same year)

In no particular order, then, here are my picks for 2011.  Each hyperlinked title will take you to my review of the book.  Last year, as I recall, I had only reviewed about 2/3 of my Top Ten 2010 list, so here is even more evidence that my book blogging has been on the rise for 2011:

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (NB: This was probably my favorite, but not necessarily the best, book of 2011.  After all, it's not every book that makes you want to dye your hair a color not found in nature)

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Open City by Teju Cole (In my masterful and superior opinion, 
Cole was robbed of the National Book Award for this book)

Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji

Submission by Amy Waldman (these last two almost function as two halves of the same coin -- both are stories of politics & religion in a post-9/11, anti-Islamic western world; one is emotionally engaging and the other is emotionally detached)

Best Nonfiction: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

Best YA: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Honorable mention: The Song of Achilles (not published until next year), 
but would have otherwise been in the Top Three.  

With the exceptions of The Sojourn, which I picked up from a generic White Box mailing to my bookstore, and Revolution, which I received from my Secret Santa, all of these books came from my wonderful sales reps, whom I'd like to thank here.  Y'all are terrific and I'm so very grateful that you keep me in books.  In order from the book listed on top: Jennifer Philpott from MPS, Anne DeCourcey from Harper, Ann Kingman from Random House, Michael Kindness from Random House, Roger Saginario from Hachette, and Karl Krueger from Penguin/Viking. (Some publishers are represented more than once, which is why I have more books listed here than reps, and there are some reps, like John Muse from Simon & Schuster and my many great University Press reps, whose books didn't make it to my Top Ten list, but who ought to be recognized, too.)


  1. Amazing! I am a new writer but have been a reader for over 45 years, yet never have I come close to what you have done. I commend your dedication!

  2. I picked The Art of Fielding too, I loved that book!

  3. Thank you for this fabulous list! I need to meet and become friends with all your sales rep buddies. Lucky you!

    Here's my Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011.

  4. Congrats for hitting your reading target! I've not read many of the books you have highlighted but I definitely hope to read Submission in 2012.

    Happy reading in 2012!

  5. WOW! I love that you dyed your hair because of The Night Circus! I am kind of obsessed with circuses now because of it, but your reaction is way more intense (and awesome!)

  6. I did read The Night Circus, but it didn't make my top ten for the year, though I still think you look very nice with red hair. Good to see we have so little overlap, as now I can add many of these to my list for this year.

  7. Such an accomplishment! That's a lot of reading :0)

  8. I've seen The Art of Fielding on another list today, so it must be quite excellent. I feel as if The Submission would be great too, what with its subject matter...I haven't seen a lot of lite about post-9/11 Islam lately.

    PS: Don't be frightened to flirt with my faves of 2011 here. Thanks!

  9. I'm with Robyn: looks like I've got my first ten books for 2012! And Song of Achilles didn't make my list either because I'm saving it for next year too. Thanks for yet another inspiring post, E.

  10. Awesome list - quite a few of them are on my to be read list for 2012. And a few others, I read - like The Night Circus which was amazing like you said :-)

  11. Everyone's read The Art of Fielding! Dangit, more to go on the TBR list...

    Family Fang was excellent. One of my favorite recs of yours. ;)

  12. There are definitely some books here that are on my TBR, but I haven't read many of them. I think The Family Fang looks like a lot of fun and I've had The Submission and The Art of Fielding for a while.

  13. Wow.... you read so many books and kept track, too!! :-) And dyed your hair!!! :-) What a great year.

    I'm a new GFC wondering thru. I love your enthusiasm for your fav books of the year.

  14. I've only read The Night Circus, but I've had my eye on The Art of Fielding too!


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