Part of this post first appeared on Book Riot on 12/15/11 as part of my Best Books of 2011 recommendation, which you can read here.
My first short list of favorite reads in 2011 — which covers everything I read this year, regardless of when it was published — was more than 25 books long. I managed to cut down my list to five fiction and five nonfiction favorites. Since I don’t think I’ll be finishing any more books this year, I’m posting my fiction picks today and nonfiction picks tomorrow. Let me know what you think!
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
As I said in my one sentence review of this book, The Magician King was fucking awesome. When I finished this book I was just giddy and couldn’t stop blabbering about it to The Boyfriend. If you like fantasy, even a little bit, I highly suggest picking up Grossman’s first book in the series, The Magicians, so you can read The Magician King.
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
I absolutely loved reading Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. The book is sarcastic, warm, sweet, engaging and laugh-out-loud funny throughout. Norman perfectly captures the absurdity of office life, very much like the hilarious When We Came to the End, but with a lot more affection for every character.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
I loved The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and I have a special, goofy place in my heart for The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which probably makes me the ideal reader for When She Woke. Even so, this literary mash-up uses many of the best parts of the works that inspired it to create an astute and honest look at sexual politics and personal choice in a world so close to the world we live in now it’s spooky.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Not everyone is going to fall in love with a more than 500 page book set at a small college in Wisconsin that pays homage to baseball and Moby Dick, but I was charmed by this book. Reading it was one of those immersive experiences where I fell in love with the characters, setting, and story over a long weekend of reading. I can tell this is a book I’ll go back and read again.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
I didn’t have a ton to say about The Imperfectionists when I first read it last summer, but it’s a book that’s stayed with me since I finished it. I loved the use of interconnected short stories, the setting at an international English-language newspaper, and the characters that filled each story with humor and sadness. The stories change tone quickly and kept me off balance, but in the best way possible.