Top Ten of 2011

Wow! What a year it has been. My daughter got married. I lost my VW Beetle in a car accident and I had to learn how to navigate with a broken foot. Below is the list of the books that became: a great escape, or felt like a visit from an old friend, or made me laugh, or taught me something.

Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope

The Call by Yannick Murphy

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

Emily Alone by Stewart O’Nan

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (my Young Adult book)

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

A Bad Day for Scandal by Sophie Littlefield

—Janet

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Most (but not all!) of Stacey’s Favorite 2011 Reads

Really. It’s like trying to choose a favorite kind of ice cream or one particular style of cookie -the taste that pleases you most will depend on your mood of the day- right? And yet. Aren’t there some books, and ice cream flavors or kinds of cookies, that never seem to let you down? That’s how I tried to select my list of books this year. It’s tough to stay within the number boundaries, but like last year, I kept it pretty close!

I made sure to include a variety of books, from non-fiction to a graphic novel to teen books, so I could feel confident that I provided a potential “new favorite” title for just about everyone! See what you think?

You Against Me by Jenny Downham
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Plague *and* Fear (which will be published in 2012) by Michael Grant
5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin by Michael Inman
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
365 Thank Yous by John Kralik
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Children of the Street by Kwei Quartey
Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Gone With a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

Yes. I know. There’s more than eleven -but just by one! So this year I kept it the same, but made it different too, from my Top Ten of 2010. What’s the same? I’ve created a list of twelve books, they are in alphabetical order, and there is a variety of genres/age appeal. What’s different? I specifically made sure that I didn’t repeat authors -except one, how could I not include Deanna Raybourn’s newest gem? The two non-fiction books aren’t in The Reading Room, so I linked to the author’s website and you can see more of what they’re about…

I hope you enjoy reading my list, and hopefully the actual books!, as much as I enjoyed making the list! (And at least half as much as I enjoyed seeing what other books got a shout out this week!)

Have a wonderful time reading!

— Stacey

Rosemary’s Best 11 of 2011

Last week we had about an inch of snow and my dog was beside himself with happiness. Jack loves the snow! He loves it when I kick it up into the air and he can launch himself at it. As we were heading back home from our walk, I noticed how his small footprints and my big ones were intersecting all the way down the sidewalk. I wonder if we will have a white Christmas? I know Jack is dreaming of one. My top 2011 books were all read and savored in the company of my faithful companion.

Dark Inquiry by Deanna Raybourn

The Call by Yannick Murphy

Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven

Emily Alone by Stewart O’Nan

Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope

Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

To be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher (nonfiction)

 

  

Top 10 + 1 of 2011

Looking over the past year, I’ve read a bit of everything, but to be honest not many new ones. Here are my top ones, in no particular order. Hope you find one that you may have missed. Enjoy!

River of Doubt,Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard
Roosevelt heads out on an Amazon adventure to soothe his broken spirits after his presidential defeat in 1912.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry
I had never read this children’s classic, and was blown away by it. It’s the story of a utopian society that has gotten rid of pain and discomfort, and 12 year old Jonas’ discovery of a whole range of emotions that have been eliminated from his society.

No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
The movie follows this book closely, but if you haven’t seen it, the story is about a hunter, Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad on the US-Mexico border in 1980. He’s pursued by Anton Chigurh, a pure psychopath.

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
I was surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did. It’s the memoir of Jeannette Walls, and her wreck of a family. Her dad is an alcoholic and her mom is about as selfish as they come, and the two of them drag the poor kids all across the country dodging the law and bill collectors. At times funny and heartbreaking.

Land of Lincoln: Adventure’s in Abe’s America, by Andrew Ferguson
Ferguson grew up a Lincoln buff and as an adult tours the country’s Lincoln museums and events. Funny and educational, the most interesting part is about the making and planning of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Pepper Pike, by Les Roberts
This is the first in his long sleuth series centered in Cleveland, featuring Slovenian private investigator Milan Jacovich.

Benjamin Franklin, an American Life, by Walter Isaacson
Engaging biography of this remarkable genius.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Hilarious novel about sloth-like Ignatius J. Reilly and his adventures and assortment of characters he runs into in 1960’s New Orleans.

Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin
White author Griffin’s real life experiment with racism. Griffin dyed his pigment and lived in the South in the late 1950’s. This is a real eye-opener.

Marley and Me, by John Grogan
Here’s another one I was surprised by. Anyone who has had a crazy dog will relate and laugh their head off. Even if you don’t have a dog you will enjoy this read, although be warned, the end is a tearjerker.

And one bonus book…

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
The true story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner and Word War II POW, and his unbelievable tale of survival after being adrift in the Pacific, and then held captive in deplorable conditions in a POW camp.

Top Ten of 2011

Ok, so I managed to finish some books this year – whoo hoo! But did 10 of them merit the end of the year “best of” list? No. Or at least not that I remember…. Soooo, I will be rounding out the list with some titles that I have only just started but will be compelled to finish (if all the rave reviews can be believed).

Allen, Sarah Addison: Girl Who Chased the Moon

Bailey, Elisabeth Tova: Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Forman, Gayle: Where She Went

Harkness, Deborah: A Discovery of Witches

Hiaasen, Carl: Star Island

Joyce, William: The Man in the Moon

Perkins, Stephanie: Anna and the French Kiss

Almost-reads:

Horowitz, Anthony: House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

Kaaberbol, Lene & Agnete Friis: The Boy in the Suitcase

Morgenstern, Erin: Night Circus

— Julie

Megan’s Top 10 of 2011

Last year at this time I could not come up with ten favorite non-YA books to share. I am the Teen Librarian, so it is my job to read all those fun YA books, but 1. I also talk to adults all day and 2. even I need a break from all the teenaged drama sometimes. I made a conscious effort in 2011 to broaden my reading horizons. My efforts paid off and this year I had to make cuts to my favorites list! I had a great time reading and listening to all the books my list and I think it contains a nice bit of variety. So, without further blabbering, here are just 11 of my favorite books read in 2011:

1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin was originally published in 1996 but the series got a lot of attention this year with the HBO series and the release of the fifth book in the series. I had never even heard of this epic fantasy until this year. It came recommended by a number of my coworkers (ok, fine, I succumbed to peer pressure) and I am thrilled that I finally took the plunge and read outside of my comfort zone. I am hooked. I can’t wait for a quiet, snowy day to settle in to book 2 of the series.

2. A Gentleman of Fortune, or the suspicions of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean is the second mystery starring amateur sleuth, Dido Kent. In a time when women were considered the fairer sex, and not intellectual equals to men, Miss Kent takes advantage of her near invisibility to make sense of the untimely death of an elderly neighbor. Full of historical details, a complex mystery, and a sharp-as-a-tack heroine, this series is a must-read for Regency lovers.

3. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward was a much-needed Lisa Lutz fix while waiting for more of her Spellman Files (Trail of the Spellmans is coming in early 2012). The story itself often borders on ridiculous as Lutz and Hayward seem to go out of their way to muddy the plot for each other. The real treasure is found between chapters in the form of the correspondence between the two authors who at one point in time were a couple.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is another book that I did not snatch up right away when in came out. I wish I had. It turned out that I had to wait a long time to finally get a turn with the audiobook version, but it was well worth the wait. Now I have to wait my turn for the movie because I somehow missed it in the theater.

5. A Red Herring Without Mustard and I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley are the third and fourth books in the Flavia de Luce series. How lucky to get two in one year! This is one of my favorite series to listen to because the reader Jayne Entwistle so perfectly captures the precocious spirit of the young chemist and poison-lover Flavia. I love to recommend these charming mysteries set in 1950s England. We’re going to just go ahead and count this as one entry.

6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a fascinating piece of nonfiction. In addition to telling the heartbreaking and tragic story of Henrietta Lacks and her amazing cancer cells, this books also delves into the issues of human experimentation and medical ethics. This book was by far one of the most thought-provoking books I read this year. I highly recommend the audiobook version.

7. The Paris Wife Paula McLain was a wonderful surprise for me. I don’t usually choose historical fiction and I am not very interested in Ernest Hemingway, but after having opportunity to hear the author speak I felt compelled to run home and immediately start reading my autographed copy. I couldn’t help myself; I fell in love with Hadley Richardson and her story.

8. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen is another charming story for the author of Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. These books are wonderful on audio, and The Peach Keeper is no exception. Southern charm, romance, memorable characters, family secrets, and a hint of magic come together another for your reading/listening pleasure.

9.  The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth is a standalone sequel to Blood Oath starring Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who has been bound to serve and protect the president since Andrew Jackson’s administration. This fast-paced book is full of action, monsters, conspiracies, and blood and gore. This is a political thriller with a paranormal twist. It won’t appeal to everyone, but I love this series and can’t wait for more. Bronson Pinchot narrates the audiobooks and he is fabulous.

10. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht is a stunning debut novel. I enjoyed the unique Eastern European setting and the blend of local folklore, family drama, historical fiction, and a touch of magical realism.

My +1:

11.  Fables by Bill Willingham is an ongoing comic book series that has been compiled in graphic novel format for my reading pleasure. Fables follows the lives of both well and lesser-known characters from fairy tales as they live in exile after their lands were conquered by an unknown Adversary. After centuries of peace, Fabletown has found itself in the midst of political change and upheaval. The series is clever and fresh with beautiful color illustrations. These are fairy tales all grown up.

If feels weird to not have any YA books on this list. I may have to make a second YA-only list.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten (+1) of 2011

All year-long I read and enjoy! That’s the easy part. The hard part is picking only a handful of books for my year’s ‘best’ list. Here’s hoping I’ve read something this year that you might find a worthwhile read.
So, here, I give to you, the books that I consider My Top Ten (+ 1) of 2011:

1. A Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
This is book five in a series that just gets better with each book. Smart crime solving, passionate romance, and a wonderfully descriptive historical backdrop are just a few reasons to pick up these mystery novels starring Lady Julia Grey.

2. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
When the Sudden Departure occurs, millions instantly disappear, and the remaining population questions the absence and the reasons they were left behind. This unique post-apocalyptic novel is a funny, sad, contemplative and unforgettable novel.

3. The Return of Capt. John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
This smart and eloquently written mystery, set in post WWI, takes a serious look at the ramifications of war and makes for atmospheric and memorable reading.

4. The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Zed, an agent from the “perfect future,” has been sent back in time to 2010 to ensure that an eminent disaster that leads to his peaceful world, occurs. This genre bender has sci-fi elements, is part action-packed political/spy thriller and is part a work of dystopian fiction–a perfect blend for suspenseful reading.

5. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Like many, I am late to this party (Thanks HBO). But I’m now finishing book five in a mind-blowing epic fantasy series that starts with this first. Kings without thrones, back-stabbing queens, bloody battles…need I say more?

6. Room by Emma Donoghue
This is the remarkable story of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has lived his whole life in a single room. Once you peek into Jack’s world, you’ll realise that this story is one of unbreakable love.

7. The Priest by Gerard O’Donovan
A hard-boiled riveting mystery filled with nonstop suspense, this debut left me breathless and eagerly awaiting a second installment.

8. When She Woke by Hilary Jordan
Set in a future where humans are chromed for their crimes instead of incarcerated, this unputdownable book is a modern-day The Scarlet Letter meets 1984.

9. Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress
The sassy and smart character of Georgia, a little bit of steamy romance, and hidden secrets are a few reasons to pick up this funny and poignant portrait of Southern living.

10. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
When Hadley Richardson meets Ernest Hemingway, he is just a war vet with a way with words. They head to Paris in the 20s, where Hemingway, the writer and womanizer, is born.

(Plus one). The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Frankie Pratt doesn’t marry Hemingway, but she does go to Paris in the twenties! Filled with vintage flare, this scrapbook-as-novel tells its story with words (and pictures!) & would make a great gift for your best girlfriend.

Now, don’t say I didn’t give you anything for Christmas!
Enjoy and Have a Happy New Year (of Reading)!
~Carol