My Best (and Worst) Of 2011

I'm a little reluctant to do this post now, since there are still 9 more days left of the year and I might finish a book or two before it's over, but something tells me they might not make the cut (if by chance they do I'll make an addendum). So, here are the best ten books I read this year, plus a few you should stay away from:

1. 180 Degrees South- Conquerors of the Useless by Chris Malloy: This is technically a coffee table book, but I read it like a novel. After being completely consumed by the documentary, I asked for this book last Christmas and received it. The photographs and writing invoke such a spirit of adventure and environmental consciousness. And now I have definitely added visiting Patagonia to my bucket list.

2. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni: This novel told the coming of age story of a boy who lived with his eccentric grandmother in a glass dome. He makes friends with a kid with a heart transplant and they start a horrible rock band. It's funny, quirky, and sentimental without being cheesy.

3. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano: This was a such a simply written book about complex emotions. It wasn't necessary plot drive or a character study- somewhere comfortable in between. And the author is quite the looker (not that that matters).

4. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: This, I'm sure, is on a lot of lists this month, since it truly was a great book. I did have some reservations about the scientific aspect, but I find it to be a book that I think about often. Well-written and just plain interesting.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling: There was something bittersweet about ending the series- I was glad to finally complete something I had started ten years prior, but I find myself missing Harry, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore (not Ron the whiner).

6. The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen: I cannot gush about this book enough. I fell in love (like platonic "oh how cute, I wan to pinch your cheeks" love, not "I want to rip your clothes off and make babies with you" love, just to clarify) with T.S. from the very first pages and wanted to adopt him by the end. Larsen is such a great writer and the illustrations and notes that went in to the text are amazing.

7. Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez: I'm a little wary of the apocalypse genre ever since the zombies started taking over, but I really enjoyed this book. It was told from the perspective of a young boy whose parents had died from the super-flu that had wiped out a huge chunk of the population. Interesting and frightening realistic.

8. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: I hesitated as to whether or not this book belonged on the list, since the first part of the novel was a little slow for me. But, the end made up for it and the way the Bipolar aspect was treated made it significant to me. This isn't for casual readers, though.

9. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman: This novel could almost be considered a collection of short stories; the perspective of different newspaper employees as the paper is closed. It's an interesting look at what is happening in the print industry right now. And, by proxy, makes me hate eReaders even more.

10. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: This is a great book, for runners and non-runners. While it does tout the barefoot running line a bit much, I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of ultras, trail running, and the quest to create one of the best races in history.

A Few That Almost Made It:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Keep Your Distance:
C by Tom McCarthy- Horribly boring.
Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee- Added nothing to the Indian literature genre.
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown- Could have been better, but ended up flat.
There But For The by Ali Smith- Could not get into it; failed attempt at something with potential.

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