A Bookworm's Pick: Top 2011 Reads

Everyone's doing it, and I'm a big fan of the bandwagon, so what follows is my (first ever, I might note!) attempt to pick out my top 2011 reads. Note that these are my top ten new reads - all were published in 2011 (unless I made a mistake, in which case, let me amend that sentence to read "Most were published in 2011."). I'm comfortable posting this now because I know that in the next three weeks, I will be reading books with publication dates in 2012, or be working on those shelves and shelves of TBR books that are mocking me from the shelves.

13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro: This unexpected little gem showed up at my door early this year from the publisher, and proved an absolute delight to read. Very French, very fun, very thoughful. Very recommended. Includes some steamy bedroom scenes, as an added bonus. 

The Magician King by Lev Grossman: I fell head-over-heels in love with The Magicians in January, and eagerly anticipated its sequel. Luckily, Grossman did not disappoint. A healthy dose of teenage angst, and post-college life angst, and magic, and back story made for the perfect follow-up to what others have called "Harry Potter for grown-ups," and what I call "Harry Potter if he was a loner stoner who went to magic college and did a lot of drugs and fell in love and discovered Narnia." But I also hate the fact that we constantly compare all fantasy books to Harry Potter, and believe that both The Magicians and The Magician King stand wonderfully on their own two feet.

Among Others by Jo Walton: This one was a gift from my husband, who read about its release on io9, and promptly pre-ordered me a copy, believing it would be right up my alley. It was. It still is. Walton perfectly captures the magic of books and of belief in magic, and Among Others proves as much a fantasy novel in its own right as it is a love letter to fantasy books. Read with pen in hand, because there are multiple quotes you'll want to recall later on, and the books mentioned will have the holds shelf on your local library exploding before you're done.

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell: I love anything and everything by Sarah Vowell, including things she writes on subjects about which I previously had no interest. Case in point: this book. I can't profess to have cared much about Hawaiian history until I heard Vowell was writing about it, but Unfamiliar Fishes was a worthwhile jaunt into the history of a collection of islands that sort of accidentally on purpose happen to be a state. Vowell has a special knack for making me feel educated and entertained at the same time, and that's saying something.


11/22/63 by Stephen King: I haven't even finished this yet, and I'm saving it a spot on my list. King is a master at storytelling, I'm learning (this is my first King novel, I confess in shame), and I am totally, completely hooked on this story. If I keep writing, I'm just going to descend into downright gushing. So. Read it. I want to talk about it with you, I promise. Time-travelling, after all, is a brain teaser.

Among the Missing by Morag Joss: I am probably just as surprised as anyone to find this on my list. The novel's cover suggests... I don't know what it suggests, actually, but it proves to be something other than what you'd think. A probing, intellectual exploration of the emotional turmoil that comes from a collapsed bridge, and what it means to be the one missing, the one left behind, and the one who finds excitement in the terror. This story has stayed with me for months -- hence the inclusion on the top 2011 reads. Because, as I've always said, the kind of book that lingers past its final page is the kind of book worth reading.

Enough About Love by Herve le Tellier: I guess I had a French thing going on this year. Who knew? Le Tellier's book is beautiful, gripping, and, as with so many others on this list, unforgettable. Enough About Love is a very French novel about the power of love, and fidelity, and what it means to fall out of love, and infidelity. Complex but never complicated. Not uplifting, but not quite depressing. Just... thought-provoking.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This one has caught a lot of flack from other reviewers (and a lot of praise, too!), but I can't help but include it here. Yes, the plot is a bit slow, and there were times when I questioned the development of the characters. But Morgenstern's perfectly captured world, of a circus, of magic, of love, of mystery, is inescapable, and I'm a sucker for description, and imagery, and magic, magic, magic. Done well, that is, which it is here.


  1. I've heard a lot about The Night Circus and The Magician King, better put them on reserve at the library. :)

    I've been eyeballing Morag Joss books for years -- might have to actually get around to reading one based on your recommendation. I think, actually, that I may own one. Off to see...

  2. Can I come over for pasta night and also borrow all of these?? Thanks.

  3. Jessica - I'd never heard of Morag Joss before receiving a copy of Among the Missing for review, and I was so pleasantly surprised!

    Erica - DUH.

  4. GREAT picks! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Kerry, great choices, and I'm so glad that 11/22/63 made the list as well! It will be making my list this year as well; I just loved it!

  6. Thanks, all! I wish I'd read more this year (don't we all), but there were definitely some gems in there.


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