Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011--Top Reads

I decided to go with a top 11 list this year, in honor of the dearly departing year, and also because I couldn't figure out which of these to drop off the list. It wasn't my best year ever in reading for several reasons, chiefly because of my byzantine system of choosing what to read next. I can't go into it; it's a little OCD. Anyway, these are in the order that I read them. I can't rate beyond that. If I had to choose the top book, it would be New York Trilogy, made more surprising and delightful by the fact that it came from nowhere and made my head spin.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace. Yes, the title essay was funny, but the two that really got me were the one about growing up in east central Illinois (which I did too, at exactly the same time that he did), and the one about the Illinois State Fair, which had me snorting for the better part of an hour.

Songs in ordinary time by Mary McGarry Morris

Paradise Dogs by Man Martin. You all knew this would make the list. I haven't been able to shut up about this book or this author. I loved that it was Floridian in that weird and wacky Florida way. It was funny. It was poignant.  It made me laugh. The author did an interview with me.

Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Now, where did I get the idea that Collins was boring? Because he's not.

The Rose & the Beast by Francesca Lia Block. 

Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell. Expanded ed. OK, this was my favorite book from childhood, but I got my hands on the expanded edition with two new chapters this year. The illustrations were just the same (gorgeous)! So I'm cheating and including it.

Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith. You all know that I have a book by Alexander McCall Smith on the list just about every year. I hate to say it, but this was the only book of his that I read this year. My to-read pile is just too unmanageable.

New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. I had never heard of him. I'd never heard of the book. And so it was a double delight to start reading and find that I was blown away. I didn't understand it, but had fun trying.

The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. A time-travel thriller that really made me think. Terrific read.

Ironweed by William Kennedy. Try to forget that Jack Nicholson was in the movie. The book is a masterpiece.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. A small England village is stricken by the plague and resolves to isolate itself in order to spare the neighboring villages. While the narrator finds sources of strength she did not know existed, others in the village give in to the temptations that accompany their terror.

Total books read this year: 144. 

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