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Book Awards 2011

(If you missed it, here's December's list.)

Total Books: 150
Nonfiction: 73
Fiction: 77

63% were young adult/juvenile, 6% were rereads, and 23% were books I owned but had never read.

This was The Year of the Bryson with a total of ten books by Bill Bryson, the best being Notes from a Small Island and In a Sunburned Country, where his sometimes abrasive negativity and (hilarious in print but likely maddening in person) curmudgeonlyness were tempered by a genuine love and appreciation for the places traveled.

Best new-to-me author discovery was Jo Walton, whose Among Others quickly became one of my favorite books of 2011.

I read 6 books that I would likely not have picked up otherwise because of recommendations, and enjoyed each one:

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Green Mile, Stephen King
The Treasure is the Rose, Julia Cunningham
Friendship for Grownups, Lisa Wheichel
Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

Best Travel Book: To Timbuktu, Casey Scieskza and Steven Weinberg

Most Unusual Narrator: The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak

Best Micro-history: The Dead Beat, Marilyn Johnson

Worst Ending: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

Biggest Disappointment:> The Skin Map, Stephen Lawhead*

Best Non-fiction: In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson

Best Paranormal for Grownups: A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness**

Best Cover Art: A Brief History of Montmaray, Michelle Cooper and The Encyclopedia of the Exquisite Jessica Kerwin Jenkins

Creepiest Cover Art (and also ending!): Bitter Seeds, Ian Tregillis

Best Memoir: My Family and other Animals, Gerald Durrell

Best Children's Book: The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Balen

Book That Made Me Want to Take Up Writing Ten-Page Letters: As Always, Julia, edited by Joan Reardon

Other Notable Books of 2011:

The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern. Beautiful, evocative writing.
The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown. Sisterhood, Shakespearean style.
Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton. A Jane Austen style novel of manners ... with DRAGONS.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs. It started off stronger than it ended, but the spectacular use of real photographs makes it more than worthwhile.

WORST BOOK OF 2011: How Starbucks Saved My Life, Michael Gates Gill

Condescension, name-dropping, and an overinflated ego will never be in style.

BEST BOOK OF 2011: Blackout and All Clear, Connie Willis (they can really only be counted as one book - read them, you'll see)

On the other hand, well-researched history, a dose of just the right amount of time-travel, and characters that get inside your head and make you laugh and make you cry will ALWAYS be in style. Brava, Connie Willis.

* I adore Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle and Song of Albion series, but I never could get into the Robin Hood ones and everything after that has been frankly awful.

** It's long. It's a bit dense. It's scholarly and intellectual and also amazingly thrillingly grown-upedly romantic and the most un-vampire like vampire novel in just ages.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
This was a fun read!
Jan. 2nd, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading. :)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
I really need to read Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle...
Jan. 2nd, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
Soooooo good. It's so realistic and yet also has this wonderful epic Mythness to it.
Jan. 2nd, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
Yay Connie Willis and Jo Walton!
Jan. 2nd, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
YAY! I'm so eager for either one of them to come out with something new.

Also now that it's 2012 I think I can consider it time to reread Blackout/All Clear, yes? ;)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've already re-read both, so consider yourself in the clear. :D

And yes--I keep hoping I'll hear about something from either, but I haven't so far.
Jan. 4th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
Well done! :)
Jan. 20th, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
"North to Freedom" by Ann Holm, which is also retitled "I am David" and which got made into a good movie under that later title. The movie has some scenes in Italy.

I have so many I could recommend to you.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )