Thoughts and other Miscellany

The Best of 2011

I’ve waited until the last day of 2011 to post this, on principle. Having been a bit confused last year by bloggers insisting that they couldn’t possibly have a book underway across the year change, I’ve fallen addicted victim to the book-counting bug this year and so will be following suit; this year the confusion was that lots of bloggers were posting their best of lists in the weeks up to Christmas, not at the end of or just after 2011. However, they will have almost definitely had turkey- or poor-internet-related reasons for that. By the time the fireworks went off, I had read 98 books and they are all listed on Books read in 2011, although not all of them have got reviews up yet.

The books scoring that elusive 10/10 ranking were (in alphabetical order):

Eleanor Brown – The Weird Sisters: in Brown’s delightful Shakespearean pastiche of small town American life, three bibliophilic sisters have lost their way a little. It takes a trip home to care for their ailing mother to set their worlds to rights. Includes the gorgeous quote: “There is no problem a library card can’t solve.

Emma Donoghue – Room: you’ve read the synopses and the reviews and you’ve thought, “Really? How can a book about a kidnapped young woman and the child she bears her captor be good/Booker shortlisted/important?” It just is. Just buy it and read it already. Somehow it is harrowing and beautiful at the same time.

Vanessa Farquharson – Sleeping Naked is Green: an unexpected inclusion, even from me. This memoir chronicles Farquharson’s year of making a green change a day. Some are teeny (make sure you switch off the light). Some are huge (switching off the fridge). Whether you’re looking for eco-enlightenment or not, this woman coined the word “Farch” (for that ghastly season between winter and spring where it doesn’t snow but it’s wet and cold and EVERYONE is grumpy).

David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (which I selected as my book of the year for Reading Matters): Just. Beautiful. Booker-shortlisted in 2010 as well as Room, this is the more elegantly expressed, culturally interesting, historically impeccable account of a young Dutch clerk in the Dutch trading post of Dejima, in 1790s Japan.

And the not that much less elusive 9/10 was earned by:

Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Alan Bradley’s A Red Herring Without Mustard, Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test, Jane Green’s The Love Verb, Casey Hill’s Taboo, Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger, Elle Newmark’s The Sandalwood Tree, David Nicholls’ One Day, Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, Frances de Pontes Peebles’ The Seamstress, Elizabeth Peters’ Crocodile on the Sandbank and Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility.

OK, so there were quite a few 9/10s.


9 thoughts on “The Best of 2011”

  1. Have The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet on the audiobook TBR. DO you think it will work well in audio format? Room was my best of last year and the book I’ve been more often pushing to friends ever since.

  2. I really liked Room and The Thousands Autumns too. Bel Canto is an all-time favourite and I really enjoyed The Seamstress. I have a copy of Moon Tiger so I must dig it up and get to it since you think it’s that good. Lemon Cake intrigues me now, think I’ll give it a try as well. I’ll read your reviews of these after I’ve read the books. Happy reading in 2012.

  3. That’s a wonderful list, The Weird Sisters made it on my favourite’s list as well. I’ve had so many people recommend David Mitchell to me, I really should read some this year. Have a lovely, and very bookish, 2012!

  4. I loved Room, though it didn’t quite make it onto my best of 2011 list. I also enjoyed The Sandalwood Tree and Moon Tiger. And I’m about to start reading Crocodile on the Sandbank – I hope I like it as much as you did!

  5. I like the sound of the weird sisters – it was the words ‘Shakespearean pastiche’ that did it for me – now on my wishlist.

  6. I really love everyone’s best-of lists. I was given Room for Christmas so I hope to get to that soon(ish). And I also want to read the Amor Towles. Several others I haven’t heard about that I’m interested in, too, particularly The Weird Sisters which sounds a blast!

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