I went back and forth on what to choose for my top books of 2011, and on how to present them. I’m going to just present a list of books alphabetically by author, and pull out one I want to flag as my favorite– not necessarily the best, but the one that I just found delightful!
These aren’t necessarily books that were published in 2011, but books that I read for the first time last year.
My top reads:
- The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011)
- Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton (2011)
- Horns by Joe Hill (2010)
- Pirate King by Laurie R. King (2011)
- Original Sin by Beth McMullen (2011)
- Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman (2011)
- State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (2011)
- The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond (2007)
- Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos (2011)
- The Cat, the Professor, and the Poison by Leann Sweeney (2010)
Honorable Mentions go to those that I had a really hard time not putting on this list– I probably could legitimately made it a top 20 list, and not differentiated between those and these.: The Last Unicorn (Graphic Novel) by Peter S. Beagle, Peter Gillis, Renae De Liz, & Ray Dillon (2011), Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel (2010), Where She Went by Gayle Forman (2011), A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (2011), Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson (2010), The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (2006), Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012), I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (2010), Devotion by Dani Shapiro (2010), and The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton (2010),
The book I want to pull out as my favorite of 2011 is Original Sin by Beth McMullen. I was delighted by this book as a crazy spy adventure, and I laughed out loud many times at the wording and the situations. Even more than that, I loved the look at the change of self-identity with a major life change– in this case, motherhood, but other events can and do prompt a total change in how you see yourself. I haven’t seen this book around the Internet much, so I want to encourage more people to pick this book up and read it. (Ironically, there was another book by the same name published around the same time, so keep an eye on the author’s name on this one!).
I read 169 books total last year. This is a few less than the previous year, which doesn’t particularly bother me. I want to push myself to keep reading a variety of books I did do that this year.
At the end of the year, I started cutting down on books I received for review.. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first part of the year is significantly overrepresented on my lists above. 60 of the books (36%) I read this year were review copies. 70% of my top 10 list and 65% of my top 20 list were review books. Between TLC Book Tours, NetGalley, various publicists and the publishers themselves, I find out about books that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, and as long as I remain cautious about what I accept, I think I’ll be thrilled to be in this position.
I read 24 books for my two book clubs. Of my top 20 books of the year, 4 of them were books I read for one of them. Interestingly, 3 of my bottom 10 were also book club books. 4 of the bottom 10 were review books, and 3 of those were tour books. That makes sense, since if it’s a book I’m reading for myself, I have the option of giving up on it and picking up something that is a better match.
Last year, I had a strong set of non-fiction books in my favorites of the year, I made an effort to continue reading more non-fiction this year. I’m glad I did, but only one made my top 10, (and just one more in the next 10). I think I want to make an effort to track down better recommendations for non-fiction, to try to find more great books for next years lists.
I don’t have any real changes planned for my reading. I do want to get back to posting more regularly. I also want to be realistic about my expectations. My daughter is starting her rhythmic gymnastics season, I’m planning on taking one or two classes starting in February, so I don’t want to get too ambitious and not be able to meet my goals.
I hope every one of you had a good 2011 and has an even better 2012!