It’s only November, but here it is: Best Reads of 2011

It’s November, so it’s a little early for Best of 2011’s.  Right?  Except I’ve already seen two, one from Amazon and one in the Atlantic.  It’s like the holiday season, which starts earlier and earlier (I actually ordered holiday cards yesterday, which is shockingly early for me).

At least by going early, I can pre-empt the rest of the Best-Of lists, including my favorite, the New York Times.  I’ll write about that one when it comes out, but this way you have my unadulterated opinion first.

I know a Best-Of list should be about books actually released in 2011, but I actually didn’t read that many new releases this year.  So I’m providing two lists.

Here is my Best Books Read in 2011, Published Anytime list.  I decided to take off books that are part of a series, because it seems impossible to compare a book like Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men (which was awesome) to a book like The Book Thief.  I could make a top ten series list but I’m writing about series for another post.

  1. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
  2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  4. When the Killing’s Done by TC Boyle
  5. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
  6. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
  7. One Day by David Nicholls
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  9. Trespass by Rose Tremain
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Now, my Best Books Published in 2011 list (and here I have to include series books):

  1. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
  2. When the Killing’s Done by TC Boyle
  3. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
  4. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
  5. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
  6. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
  7. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
  8. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
  9. The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
  10. Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson

I’m not sure how meaningful this last list is, since these are nearly all the books I read in 2011 that were published in 2011.  I tend to read books I ought to have read a long time ago, and I rarely feel the need to read something as soon as it comes out.  Still, I can highly recommend every book that is on the above list (if you like that sort of thing).  I especially recommend Pigeon English, which I would name as my favorite book of the year.  It was on the Man Booker Prize Shortlist, but otherwise no one is talking about it.

For the record, Amazon’s Best Literature and Fiction of 2011 are:

  1. The Art of Fielding
  2. 1Q84
  3. The Marriage Plot
  4. The Tiger’s Wife
  5. The Night Circus
  6. The Lovers Dictionary
  7. Lost Memory of Skin
  8. The Sisters Brothers
  9. The Cat’s Table
  10. Please Look After Mom

Have you read any of these?  Which do you recommend?

  6 comments for “It’s only November, but here it is: Best Reads of 2011

  1. November 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I read The Book Thief last year, and in 2011, The Lover’s dictionary and One Day. One Day is actually the best read of 2011, together with Jeanette Winterson’s memoir “Why be happy when you could be normal?”. I have on my TBR list Cat’s Table, The marriage Plot and 1Q84… 🙂

    • November 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      One Day is kind of a love it or hate it. I really identified with it. I didn’t see the movie though, did you?

      • November 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

        I did, and I cried my heart out, even if I knew the end 😦

  2. November 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I prefer the “Best of what (you) Read” in 2011, regardless of publication date. Your list (and mine) are much more meaningful in that format.

    • November 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks! I loved reading about all the 2012 Challenges on your blog. I’ll probably pick a couple to try. I’m thinking the TBR challenge and one of the Classics or maybe vintage mystery. Hmmm…

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