Everyday Reading: Favorite Books of 2011

December 14, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

Yes, I could, potentially, read something in the next two weeks that becomes a favorite, but I'm not inclined to think this will happen. If it does, though, you will be the first to know.

I have read many, many many mediocre books this year. But there have also been standouts and several good middle grade books and a lot of excellent non-fiction. Frankly, the adult titles have been fantastic this year - SIX of my top 12 books this year are published for the adult market.

Just looking at this list makes me happy. These are books that transported me, that I couldn't put down, that opened my eyes to all sort of things I knew nothing about, that made me fall desperately in love with fictional characters.

Ack, the gushing is making me feel a little nauseous (or that could be the cookies I pretended were dinner. Either way. . . ). Here is my 2011, in books:



Unbroken - These generally aren't in any order, except Unbroken? Absolutely my number one book of the year. This is just the most amazing non-fiction. I love this book so very very much. You can read more wild-eyed ranting about it here, in my regular review.

Okay for Now - Alright, alright, this list might be a tiny bit in order, at least with these first two. I thought I couldn't love any middle grade/young adult fiction like I loved The Wednesday Wars. But this one is neck and neck with it. I laughed, I cried, it shot to the top of my favorite books list. I am holding out hope that this one will get a Newbery nod in January. Full review here.

What Alice Forgot - The bright spot of chick-lit in 2011. Funny, romantic, and amnesia - a perfect book for me. Full review here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - More people would like fantasy if more fantasy was written like this one. This one is so tightly plotted, funny, and heart-wrenching. I fear that they'll make a movie of it and ruin everything. Full review here.

Falling for Hamlet - I love a retelling and this one was fantastically done. This one earned it's place on my bookshelf. Full review here.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter - Everyone I have recommended this book to has loved it. And nothing makes me happier than that. Full review here.

The Warmth of Other Suns - This was a book club read (chosen by Julie), about the huge numbers of black Americans who left the South between 1920s and 1970s to find new lives in northern cities (or in the West). It follows three people who left in different decades for different places for different reasons, and the whole book is just really fascinating. I wish I hadn't procrastinated reading it so much that I had to zip through it in three days.

Room - I still think about this book often - the whole thing is so horrifying and yet full of hope and promise. It really is as good as everyone says. Full review here.

Split - This was the third book I read in 2011, and yet my love for it has not been dimmed at all by the number of books I've read since then. In fact, it might have increased my devotion since most of the YA books I read over the course of the year failed to come even close to competing with how masterfully written this one was. I cannot wait for her next book. Full review here.

After Ever After - This book is a great example of why I love realistic fiction - I love a book that is all about the character and the storyline is really not the point (not that this book doesn't have a great storyline too).  Full review here.

Moon Over Manifest - I find Newbery winners to be so hit or miss. This one was a bulls-eye. Wonderful, wonderful historical fiction, set in both WWI and the Great Depression. I'd give this to any kid. Full review here.

The Omnivore's Dilemma - We read this for book club and it really has changed my life - I joined the CSA because of this book and we've made a lot of other changes in our diet as well. My nerdy self loved almost every page of this book (the mushroom chapter was . . . a little too lengthy).

23 comments:

  1. I was looking for some good books to read over Christmas break in Phoenix....now I have some :)

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  2. I so agree on Split. But that shouldn't surprise you.

    Similar in the Split spirit you might like is Stick (sigh, even the titles are similar) by Andrew Smith.

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  3. I love The Omnivore's Dilemma, it is one of those "Change You" books and--finals week aside--has totally changed the way I eat.

    I've got Warm of Other Suns in my To Read pile, and am now adding Falling for Hamlet to my wish list. :)

    xox

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  4. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news! According to Shelf Life on EW.com, "Universal Pictures announced that it has acquired worldwide rights to the young adult fantasy novel."

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  5. Janssen, posts like these make me very, very happy. I have to tell you, I found your blog via your facebook page in April of this year. After I'd graduated, gotten married, and had my first day off without a thesis looming over my head, I was combing through my friends' "favorite books" to start a reading list. Thanks for doing all the grunt work so I can spend my time reading stuff I know I'll like. Merry Christmas!

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  6. ummm can I just say I'm proud that I've actually read 1.5 books on your favorites list!? ha. considering I usually only read about 10 books a year (sad I know). and all thanks to your suggestions of course.

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  7. Hooray!!! Love your reviews, but all in one place?? Double love!!! Now to update my library holds...

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  8. Looks like a really good list. Okay for Now will definitely be on the top of my list this year too. Daughter of Smoke and Bones may very well make that list as well. I'll be posting my favorites on the last day of the year if you want to check it out.

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  9. Sorry if you've already addressed this, but in one or two sentences could you tell me the main difference between Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food?

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  10. Pinned it - now for January to come so I can have time to read again.

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  11. I read so many stinkers this year, it's just sad. But! I too read Omnivore's Dilemma, and YES that was too much about mushrooms. My favorite of the year was Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me.

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  12. Now I have lots to add to my list. I do completely agree with Moon over Manifest-very worthy award winner.

    I am reading NurtureShock right now and am re-thinking many of my previous ideas on parenting and school systems in general.

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  13. Yay, best books lists! Sad I had to return Daughter of Smoke and Bone to the library yesterday before reading, although I'm still wary about its extreme-fantasy-ness.

    And I feel like everyone who reads Omnivore's Dilemma agrees on the mushroom chapter. Myself included. It kind of made me never want to look for a mushroom in the woods ever.

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  14. I have to give you credit for the fact that I picked Unbroken for my book club, and everyone loved it. I'm gonna add a few of these others to my library list now!

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  15. Unbroken is sitting on my nightstand right now! But the thing is, I'm reading Nutureshock and can't hardly put it down.

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  16. I still need to get to Falling for Hamlet! I agree on Split, it was a fantastic read. It was one that came out of nowhere for me.

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  17. Thanks so much for your list! Bizarrely, I haven't read any of these yet, but several are on my list after reading your reviews earlier in the year. Its good to know at the end of the year, you still think they are the tops! I'm totally torn about Split, though. The rave reviews both you and other people have given it REALLY make me want to read it, but I just don't know if I can handle it... maybe i just need to find some courage.

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  18. Oooh! I need some new books to read, thank you!

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  19. OK, Lady--I am now itching to read every single one of these. Thank you for this post!

    Also, on a hilarious (to me) note: I was tagging a group photo on facebook and it narrowed in on my friend's two-year-old daughter and it was automatically recommending names based on facial recognition. I'm sure you can see where this is going, but it recommended you and I seriously laughed for a good five minutes. Mostly because you have often complained about your "baby face." Made me wish we lived closer!

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  20. OK, Lady--I am now itching to read every single one of these. Thank you for this post!

    Also, on a hilarious (to me) note: I was tagging a group photo on facebook and it narrowed in on my friend's two-year-old daughter and it was automatically recommending names based on facial recognition. I'm sure you can see where this is going, but it recommended you and I seriously laughed for a good five minutes. Mostly because you have often complained about your "baby face." Made me wish we lived closer!

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  21. I just added every one of these to a little list in my phone. I'd already requested Daughter, but will make it my goal to work through the rest!

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  22. I don't know if you're interested in my list, but I always like to see what other people are reading to get ideas, so here's my top ten for this year: http://vermillionrules.blogspot.com/2012/01/top-10ish-books-of-2011.html

    I've already added most of the books from your top ten (the ones I haven't read) to my Goodreads to-read! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  23. I'm always looking for book inspiration so I've been browsing your year lists of favorite books. On a whim I picked up Okay For Now after reading your recommendation. I was already in the middle of another book, and with Christmas coming, I almost put it in my return pile without opening it. But then I left my purse with my Kindle in it at a Christmas party...and until I could get it back the next day I needed something else to read so I started this book. Now I can't put it down! So good!!

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