2011 in Books

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

  1. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
  2. The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis
  3. Sweethearts, Sara Zarr
  4. Paper Towns, John Green
  5. Vida, Patricia Engel
  6. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  7. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
  8. How to Say Goodbye in Robot, Natalie Standiford
  9. March, Geraldine Brooks
  10. On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
  11. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron
  12. The Once and Future King, T.H. White
  13. Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool, Taylor Clark
  14. My Latest Grievance, Elinor Lipman
  15. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
  16. How to Marry an English Lord, or How Anglomania Really Got Started, Gail McColl & Carol McD. Wallace
  17. Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
  18. The Million Dollar Mermaid: an Autobiography, Esther Williams
  19. Please Ignore Vera Dietz, A.S. King
  20. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
  21. The Mystery of Nancy Drew: Girl Sleuth on the Couch, Betsy Caprio
  22. Dark Summit: the True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season, Nick Heil
  23. Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin
  24. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  25. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Suketu Mehta
  26. The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, Leah Wilson
  27. A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
  28. The Magician King, Lev Grossman
  29. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
  30. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
  31. The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman
  32. A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin
  33. Stranger Things Happen, Kelly Link
  34. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Karen Russell
  35. The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

A lot of young adult in the first half of this year, which wouldn’t have been a bad thing except that most of the Y.A. I read was less compelling than I’d hoped for. The major exception was Paper Towns by John Green, who is an obvious and perennial exception to the dashing of my hopes. (I’m almost worried that my expectations are so high for his upcoming The Fault in Our Stars that the inevitable expectation-dashing is coming.) Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot was also charming. The later forays into more adult fiction, although equally uneven, were more rewarding.

What I really loved: Into Thin Air continued my tradition of finishing Krakauer’s books in a day. How to Marry an English Lord, the most embarrassingly titled selection on my list (scratch that–that award clearly goes to Anna and the French Kiss), was perhaps the most enjoyable surprise of the year, a really readable account of the Gilded Age trend of American heiresses marrying British lords. And Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, which I read at the continued insistence of Dead Presidents’ Anthony Bergen, was incredible. Clearly I need to be reading more non-fiction. On the fiction side, the book that blew everything else away was Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector. While by no means a perfect book (like most people, I’m rationally annoyed by surprise crop-ups of 9/11-related plotlines), it was still addictive, romantic, charming, funny and smart. March, A Visit from the Goon Squad, and The Once and Future King round out the fiction portion of my “loved” list.

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