Sunday, January 8, 2012

Best of 2011

I have been struggling with this list for weeks, and every time I look at it, something changes, but here it is!   Please remember, my list is one of books I read in 2011, not necessarily those that were published in 2011. There are also quite a few fabulous books that I simply didn't get to this year. 

Happy Reading!


1.  THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday; 11/13/11)
Took my breath away, to the point where my review makes me sound like a gushing idiot. I knew from the minute I read the last page, this would be in my #1 spot for 2011. 

2.  READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (Crown; 8/16/11)
Totally took me by surprise.  I listened to the audio read by Wil Wheaton and it was brilliant!  I highly recommend this one to anyone who remembers the 80s, anyone who likes video games, and anyone who is looking for a smart, witty, and exciting book. 

3.  11/22/63 by Stephen King (Scribner; 11/8/11)
I haven't read a Stephen King novel in a very, very long time.  I'm wimpy when it comes to the master of horror.  11/22/63 was extremely clever, with just enough gore to remind you who wrote it, but not so much that you lose sleep wondering what's hiding inside your walls. If you love Stephen King, don't miss it.  If you're afraid of Stephen King, this is the one to read. 

4.  UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House; 11/16/11)
By far, the best WWII non-fiction book I have ever read.  It's truly a survivor story that will leave you in awe of Louie Zamparini and all of the men and women who so bravely serve our country.  Heartbreaking.  Inspiring. Unfathomable.  I had to keep reminding myself I was reading non-fiction!

5. THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown (Amy Einhorn; 1/20/11)
This is the book I wished I had written.  Three sisters, Shakespeare scholar father, and lots of drama.  Beautifully written, funny, and original. I have not seen this book on any of the "Best of" lists, and I really hope it is not overlooked any further. 

6.  BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur; 4/5/11)
Laugh out loud funny! I love Tina Fey, and now I love Don Fey too.  If you really want a treat, listen to the audio version of Bossypants, read by Tina Fey, as only she can with her sarcastic, self-depricating tone that her fans know and love.

7.  HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow; 2/16/11)
Such a cool book! I honestly had no idea who Joe Hill's dad was when I read Horns, so it is with even greater pleasure that I can put a father and son on my top 10 list!  How cool is that?  Horns was like nothing I had ever read before.  Joe Hill is clearly a product of his father, but can hold his own in every way.  Suspenseful, twisted, and hilarious!

8.  YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE by Siobhan Fallon (Amy Einhorn; 1/20/11)
Every American should read this book. It reminds us of the sacrifice our soldiers and their families make each and every day.  It gives us a glimpse into a world that I have always respected, but not truly understood.  Filled with a collection of stories, this small book will leave a huge impact on your heart.

9.  DON'T SING AT THE TABLE by Adriana Trigiani (Harper; 10/4/11)
You all know how I love Adriana Trigiani, right?  Her fiction is among my favorites, but her first non-fiction book was terrific. It is her welcoming her readers into her home, to take a look at her family, and to share the life lessons her grandmothers taught her.  I pick this book up over and over again.  As someone who didn't really know my grandmothers, thank you to Adriana for sharing hers with me. 

10. DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME by Jessica Anya Blau (Harper Perennial; 1/18/11)
I had no idea when I read this book that it would stick with me the way that it did.  I loved it much in the same way I loved The Glass Castle.  Crazy family, lots of drama, tons of laughter, and buckets of tears.  When I can't stop thinking about a book, it ends up on my favorites shelf.  This is another book I haven't seen on anyone else's list before, and I think this is another reason why it appeals to me so much.  Read it with your book club! You can thank me later.


1.  THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic; 10/18/11)
As far as I'm concerned, Maggie Stiefvater can do no wrong. The Scorpio Races is just as good, if not better, than any of her previous books. 

2.  A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness (Candlewick; 5/11)
What can I say about this book that I haven't already said?  I seriously overshared in my original review...

3.  BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray (Scholastic; 5/24/11)
Libba Bray knocks my socks off.  That is all.

4.  LEGEND by Marie Lu (Putnam; 11/29/11)
Legend sucked me in from page one, and I couldn't put it down.  June and Day are two of my favorite characters from everything I read all year.  Don't miss this one!

5. ASHFALL by Mike Mullin (Tanglewood; 11/27/11)
Amazing... Mike Mullin nailed this one.  I keep describing it as The Road for Young Adults...but it really is so much more than that.  Read it.  Trust me.
The writing blew me away.  The characters, the scenery, the storyline...all amazing. Some of the elements we have seen before, but Laini Taylor pieces it all together with beautiful prose.  Gorgeous book!

7.  THE IRON KNIGHT by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen; 10/25/11)
I love this series.  When Julie wrote The Iron Queen, I said it was my favorite in the series, and no way did I think it could be topped, especially not by the 4th book!  She did it.  The Iron Knight was even bettter!

8.  BEAUTIFUL CHAOS (Beautiful Creatures #3) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown; 10/18/11)
Another one of my favorite YA series came in with the 3rd book that knocked me out.  The dream team does it again!

9.  VIRALS by Kathy Riechs (Razorbill; 11/2/10)
Such a cool book.  It's original, and exciting, and actually a little geeky.  I like that.  Best known for her Temperance Brennan series (on which the show Bones is based), the Virals series is her first attempt at Young Adult, and I'm hooked!

10. SHINE by Lauren Myracle (Amulet; 5/1/11)
This book was so much more than I could possibly summarize in a few sentences.  It's honest, raw, shocking, and will get you downright good and angry. 
Last on my list, but first in my heart.  Lauren Myracle has shown such grace this year, I am a new fan of her work, and her character.  I am looking forward to catching up on the rest of her work.



1.  THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick (Scholastic; 1/30/07)

2.  THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann (Aladdin; 8/30/11)

3.  HOLES by Louis Sachar (Yearling; 5/00)

4.  BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond Press; 11/27/11)

5. DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK by Tom Angleberger (Amulet; 8/23/11)

6.  THE GENIUS FILES: MISSION UNSTOPPABLE by Dan Gutman (HarperCollins; 1/25/11)
7.  THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander (Walden Pond Press; 2/8/11)

8.  JUNIPER BERRY by M.P. Kozlowsky (Walden Pond Press; 5/26/11)

9/10. SAVVY/SCUMBLE by Ingrid Law (Puffin; 2000)

This list would not be so complete (or so LONG)  if not for the generosity of the many publishers who are so good to me, and trust me with their titles.  2011 was a great year in publishing, and I have never been more proud to be a book blogger.  I'm looking forward to what is ahead!

I am still completely blown away that people actually read my blog, and that my list of readers continues to grow each month.  I am both honored and humbled when you send me an e-mail, or stop me on the street, just to tell me that you liked a review I wrote or a recommendation I gave. 

Thank you and Happy Reading!


Marce said...

Great list, I like how you featured different genres. I have only read Horns and thought it was great for sure, very unique.

bermudaonion said...

I've read 5 of the books you featured and they were all great. I'll be reading 11/22/63 and The Weird Sisters soon. Great list!!

Alison's Book Marks said...

Thank you! One of the things I love about this book blogger world is there are NO two Best Of lists that are the same. Our own little Book Fingerprints! Thanks for reading!

Shana said...

Love so many of those titles Alison. I am looking forward to reading a few more from your list because I think we have similar tastes. Thanks.

Jenny said...

I need to remember Dribking Closer to Home... It's on my nook and I'm gla to hear its so good. The Weird Sisters made it on my 2011 favorites list!

Alexia561 said...

Excellent list! I've only read a few, but have added several others to my wishlists. Great job!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Always awesome choices Alison! We tend to agree on books so I am going to use your list to choose some of my future reads!

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