2011 – Best Books

It is that time of the year, when everyone and her mother wants to tell you about the best books of the year. Well, let’s be honest, I’m no exception to the rule. I like to go back through what I’ve read for the year and reflect on what has continued to speak to me throughout the course of the year. I did things slightly differently this year, and chose only from the books I reviewed this year, which includes a few read in 2010, and none read in December of 2011. This is actually part of the reason I’m able to write this post before the end of the year, because everything I’m reading right now will be considered for my 2012 list (particularly since I’m mostly reading things with 2012 release dates at the moment).

Because I reviewed over 200 books this year in a variety of genres (not counting Saturday Story Spotlight), I found it difficult to pick just 10, or even 20 best books. Instead, I broke my list into a the genres I read in the most, and picked up to 5 books that most stood out in each. Books marked with an asterisk are back list books, which I read in 2011. Books are listed in the order reviewed.


Faith by Jennifer Haigh, narrated by Therese Plummer
Harper Audio, an imprint of HarperCollins – released May 10, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie, narrated by Kate Simses*
Penguin Audio, an imprint of Penguin – released November 30, 2010

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton
Random House Audio, an imprint of Random House – released August 16, 2011

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaum, narrated by Tara Sands
Random House audio, an imprint of Random House – released August 23, 2011

General Fiction

The Weird Sisters
by Eleanor Brown
Amy Einhorn/Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin, released January 20, 2011

You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
Amy Einhorn/Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin, released January 20, 2011

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins – released January 23, 2011

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Knopf, an imprint of Random House – released August 9, 2011

The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides
Farrar, Straus, and Girroux, an imprint of Macmillan – released October 11, 2011

Historical Fiction

by Mary Doria Russell
Random House – released May 3, 2011

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House – released August 9, 2011

The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – released October 18

Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman
Miriam Wood/Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin – released October 4


Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear*
Picador, an imprint of Macmillan – released November 24, 2009
Note: Among the Mad is partly standing in for the entire Maisie Dobbs series, which I read early in 2011 and loved.

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin – released April 5, 2011

Skating Over the Line by Joelle Charbonneau
Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan – released September 27, 2011

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Mulholland Books, an imprint of Hachette – released November 1, 2011

The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House – released September 13, 2011


Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution
by Holly Tucker
W.W. Norton & Co – released March 21, 2011

Sex on Six Legs by Marlene Zuk
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – released July 20, 2011

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
Viking Adult, an imprint of Penguin – released September 29, 2011

Catherine the Great: A Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
Random House – released November 8, 2011

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
Viking Adult, an imprint of Penguin – released October 27, 2011

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27 comments to 2011 – Best Books

  • Thanks for your round up! I found this to be a pretty uneven reading year for me, since there were few books that I “loved” and I’m having a hard time finding something I can sink my teeth into right now. I did really enjoy Discovery of Witches, Caleb’s Crossing and the Marriage Plot, along with my first reading of the Harry Potter Series over the summer.

  • Excellent books and I don’t believe I’ve read any of them. :) Marriage Plot is on the docket for January. Hoping for The Language of Flowers for Christmas.

    • You need to read THE WEIRD SISTERS, you’d love it, I think. Actually, I think you’d love all of my fiction picks.

      • I’ve been tempted by The Weird Sisters just haven’t bought it yet. I have Girls in White Dresses in my TBR pile for February. Trying to finish 2 of your recommendations (1 that you purchased for me) before the end of the year. :)

  • Since I LOVED fates, girls in white dresses, and you know when the men are gone, I should probably read Weird Sisters (which I have on my shelf) and Marriage Plot, huh?

  • The Marriage Plot and The Weird Sisters were two of my favorites this year as well – fun to read this post (and yes, I now have more books on my wish list!!)

  • You Know When the Men are Gone will be on my list as well. Hope your next year of reading is equally as rewarding!

  • Remember when I was going to read all of the books on your list LAST year? How is it time to do this again? At least I’ve read a few of these…

  • Wow, I’ve got some reading to do! I’ve heard a few of these recommended so many times, I need to get to them.

  • I’ve only read a few of those books – thanks for the suggestions!

  • I loved The Marriage Plot too. Great list. I’ll have to check some of these out!

  • Ready Player One and The Weird Sisters are definitely going to be on my best-of list this year, too!

  • I love that you did it by genre, many books I recognise, the one I want to read also is Heads you Lose.

    Happy Holidays

  • It looks like you’ve had a great reading year. The Maid and Kitchen Counter Cooking School are both on my tbr list for next year. I hope next year goes just as well.

  • Wow, you read a lot of books. Have a great holiday!

  • This is a great list. I’m definitely going to check out the audiobook’s of Matched, The Language of Flowers and Faith!

  • Some good choices there! I’ve only read three of them, but I have several others on my wish list.

  • I haven’t read any of these, but a few are waiting on my shelves. I think I’m most looking forward to Ready Player One. Wishing you the merriest of Christmases.

  • Lots of good looking books on here! I am going to branch into audiobooks more next year, so I am excited to go back through some of your review for suggestions. :)

  • Wow, there are a lot of books I am very much behind on! I also listened to Faith and thought it was absolutely fantastic, and will more than likely make my list this week as well. I’m adding more books to my TBR now because of this post! :)

    Have a safe and Happy New Year!

  • I have heard so many people rave about The Weird Sisters, that I think I really need to give it a shot someday.

    I have only read one of the Maise Dobbs books, it made my list this year. It made me really, really want to read it.

    I really want to read the Catherine The Great book as well. I have always found that period of Russian history to be really fascinating. I remember reading your review of Blood Work and wanting to read the book itself. The History of the World in 100 Objects has piqued my curiosity as well.

    Thanks for the list.

  • Faith and You Know When the Men Are Gone made my list this year too. I definitely want to read The Marriage Plot and listen to Ready Player One. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Nice listing! I loved the Language of Flowers and I’m sure it was an amazing audiobook as well.

    The Weird Sisters was one of my favorites in 2011 and I got to hear Eleanor speak about and read from the book as well.

    The Marriage Plot is on my to-read list and I just added The Broken Teaglass & Heads You Lose based on your recommendations & reviews.

    I tried to read Blood Work but I had a hard time getting through it.

    Happy Reading in 2012!

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