My Year in Books: 2011

December 31st, 2011
There are about 185 books on this list; I need to add a few more. I’ll continue to format/update through tomorrow, but I wanted to at least put the list up today. At the request of several friends and colleagues, I’ll also try to give brief annotations for each book, but if my fingers seize up from typing you’ll know why…

A few caveats:
–These are not in chronological or ranked order; I simply drew on my memory, notes, bookshelves, tweets, blog entries, and more. However, it is accurate to the point that I read each and every book on this list–some with better attention and/or comprehension than others.
–I read a lot of galleys and ARCs. Some of these books won’t be available for sale until early-to-mid 2012. This is also why I often forget that I’ve read something. If you know I’ve read something (we’ve discussed it, etc.) and I’ve left it off of this list, let me know.
–As possible, I’ve used Indiebound links. However, for a few titles this wasn’t possible even after numerous tries and configurations of search terms. In those cases, I’ve reverted to publisher pages.
–I have pretty “catholic-with-a-small-c” reading taste, as I believe is evident from this list. However, there are areas in which I’d love to improve. If you have suggestions for me, please send them! Since I’m gently retiring my moniker of The Book Maven, the best email address to use is bethannekellypatrick at gmail dot com.

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler -- Foodies, locavores, read this book. You’ll learn how to turn every kitchen move into choreography.
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz – A surprisingly delightful Holmesian romp that will satisfy Irregulars as well as readers of steampunk.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – Childhood demons return and eke revenge in this elegant examination of how our pasts haunt us.
The Next One to Fall by Hilary Davidson — A thriller set in Peru; great travel deets, as well as believable and readable dialogue between protagonist Lily and her BFF Jack.
The Outermost House by Henry Beston — A classic of naturalism, set on Cape Cod. Although Beston’s tiny two-room Fo’castle was destroyed in 1974, his vista remains.
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore Belle Epoque hijinks from the author of Fool. This one is all about the color blue; will be released in April 2012.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson — An imperfect but powerful bio of man who was same. I’ve said before that it reads like several books in one: biography, corporate history, and even business how to.
Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff — A perfect and powerful bio of a woman who was the latter. Schiff brings Cleopatra’s world to life, rather than simply detailing her chronology.
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt — So good you may forget you learned anything. Subtitle is “How the World Became Modern,” and guess what? It all starts with…a book.
Exley by Brock Clarke — A boy works through family dysfunction via A Fan’s Notes.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan — Dystopian inversion of The Scarlet Letter.
Other People We Married by Emma Straub — Freshly brewed short stories.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead — Zombies, yes, but the real action is emotional.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern — Steampunkish big-top nostalgia–and evil.
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan — Three generations of women, one summer house.
Room by Emma Donahue — Conceit so clever people overlooked second half’s power.
Dirty Minds by Kayt Sukel — Early 2012 nonfic about the brain and desire.
Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George — Thomas Lynley is back, and so is Sgt. Havers.
The Astral by Kate Christensen — A man takes a Brooklyn walk–that’s all? Yes.  A+
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson — Lost upstate NY kids in 80s NYC.
The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell — Read Winter’s Bone. then this. SHIVER.
Open City by Teju Cole — So amazing, such a feat, just read it right now, mkay?
The Corn Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates Worth it just for “A Hole in the Head.”
So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman – You’ll never look at NY dairy farms the same…
The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore – Grrrrl authorrrr power, and fun.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch – Wholly different. Lovely.
420 Characters by Lou Beach – What’s in a Facebook status update? Author Beach knows each one could be an entire story, so he’s written them. Unforgettable, whimsical.
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure – I’ve wearied of stunt memoirs, but McClure’s heartfelt and book wise attempts to recreate experiences Laura Ingalls Wilder had during her life slew me.
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards – Edwards was one of my favorite author interviews of 2011, and her Booker Prize-short-listed novel of domestic violence and its legacy will show you why.
Vaclav and Lena by Hilary Tanner – Deceptively adorable at first, this debut novel sweeps you in to Russian-emigre Brooklyn and doesn’t let you out until you’ve finished riding an emotional roller coaster.
Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter
11/22/63 by Stephen King
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Dominance by Will Lavender
Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
We the Animals by Justin Torres
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
The Lovers’ Dictionary by David Levitan
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman
Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
Love at First Bark by Julie Klam
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Making Babies by Anne Engirt
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber
Queen of America by Luis Urrea
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
The Foreigners by Maxine Swann
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Odd Bits by Jennifer McIagan
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
Tigerlily’s Orchids by Ruth Rendell
The Vault by Ruth Rendell
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsson
2222 by Anne Holt
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
Habibi by Craig Thompson
Townie by Andre Dubus III
West of Here by Jonathan Evans
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
Galore by Michael Crummey
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
As Always, Julia by Joan Reardon
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan
The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulos
A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Tides of War by Stella Tilyard
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penney
There But for The by Ali Smith
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie,
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
The Mistress Contract by She
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Last Werewolf by Glenn Duncan
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Swim Back to Me by Ann Packer
Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
Life by Keith Richards
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
Swing Low by Miriam Toews
Satori by Don Winslow
The Sentimentalists by Joanna Skibsrud
The Maid by Kimberly Cutter
The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow
Leeches by David Albahari
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Poetsch
Wait for Me by Deborah Devonshire
American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
Lola, California by Edie Meidav
The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman
Untold Story by Monica Ali
The Inverted Forest by John Dalton
In Caddis Wood by Mary F. Rockcastle
The Good and the Ghastly by James Boice
Children of Fire by Ursula Hegi
The Little Bride by Anna Solomon
Snuff by Terry Pratchett
The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen
Daughters in Law by Joanna Trollope
After the Party by Lisa Jewell
How to Live by Sarah Bakewell
Enough about Love by Herve Le Tellier
Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam
The Glitter Scene by Monica Fagerholm
The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
You Believers by Jane Bradley
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Lucky Break by Esther Freud
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
Paris to the Past by Ina Caro
Beijing Welcomes You by Tom Scocca
Clover Adams by Natalie Dykstra
The Taker by Alma Katsu
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese
Canada by Richard Ford
2030 by Albert Brooks
The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
Heidegger’s Glasses by Thaisa Frank
The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Deliriously Happy: And Other Bad Thoughts  by Larry Doyle
Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones – I was sorry not to see this book on more year-end lists, because it’s breakout material in content: about the “secret children” of bigamists, and what happens when families collide.
Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp – A quiet novel that I believe should have a much wider readership due to its pitch-perfect handling of working-class New Englanders.
The Curfew by Jesse Ball – A spare and scary fable set in a dystopian Euro-scape in which a father’s attempts to protect his daughter cannot surmount Fascist society.
The Year of the Gadlfy by Jennifer Miller
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths
A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
Marriage Confidential by Pamela Haag
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

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5 Responses to “My Year in Books: 2011”

  1. Becky Sain says:

    Wow… you are a reading superhero — Captain Maven!

  2. AmyG35 says:

    Ditto: Wow! Impressive list that I’ll be referring to for suggestions. Thanks,Book Maven, for taking the time to put this together!

  3. Scott says:

    I just ordered “The Tiger’s Wife” after hearing an intriguing interview on my favorite radio show, The Book Report, a couple of weeks ago. Host Elaine Charles has reviewed many of these books on this list and does a fantastic job. You can catch her online at . The show helps me figure out what books to buy next.

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Bethanne. I am impressed!

  5. Dante says:

    Good work! I thought my list was impressive at 102 titles this year… as a self challenge, last year and this year, I tried to read my height (6’4) in books. At the end of each year, I stacked up all the titles and won both times. I’d be curious to know how long your list would be when placed end to end (it probably wouldn’t stay standing if you did it vertically)

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