Best Books of 2011

12 Jan

I was lucky enough to read a lot this year. Not only did I read a lot, but I read a lot of really great books. Thank God for Goodreads, or else I would have never remembered all of these. Goodreads is probably my favorite social media tool, mostly because I’m a book dork, but also because I used to walk around with these incredibly long lists of books I wanted to read shoved in my purse and I would lose them and heaven only knows how many great books have been recommended to me that I just forgot to read.

2011 was also, apparently, my year of reading young adult fiction. I never thought I would like YA as much as I do – but I suppose there is a part of me that still thinks I’m 17 so I suppose I identify with those characters. Also, it seems like there is a lot of really good YA out there right now, and I was worried because a lot of it seems to be piggybacking on The Hunger Games, and I thought nothing could come close to THG, but I was totally wrong.

I failed miserably at picking just 10 so it’s a top 15. AND I cheated and sometimes counted multiple books as one.

So here’s a list of the best books I read this year, in no particular order.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: I’m a King fan anyway, but this was him at his best – great characters, a little bit of magic and craziness, time travel, and an incredibly strong storyline. Also typical of King, it’s incredibly long, but totally worth it.

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman: These books get strong reviews, but I had a particularly strong reaction to them. I think it’s because they center around family, a fatal car accident, and the age-old question of life after death – subjects that hit incredibly close to home for me. I am totally and completely in love with these characters and I will likely re-read these books many times.

Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: Yes. Just, yes. This book was funny and tender and touching and just all around wonderful. I love these characters, too and still think about them. That sounds weird, right?

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: This was like Harry Potter, but Harry Potter if Harry had got caught up with the wrong crowd and started smoking crack. Edgier than HP, but just as gripping and fantastical. Love.

Graceling and Fire by Kristen Cashore: These were just strong, page-turning stories with compelling characters. The world Cashore has built is fascinating and I devoured these books.

Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (and the rest of the Chaos Walking series, which I read this year too): The concept of this book (a world where there are no women and all the men can hear each others’ thoughts) fascinated me. Can you imagine living in a world where everyone can hear your every thought? The last book in the series was alien-heavy, which I don’t usually like, but it was a gradual build up in the first two books, so it worked in the end. Another page-turner.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: There aren’t words to describe how absolutely enraptured I was by this book. If I had to pick the best of this year, this would probably be it. This is a story of a POW’s survival in WWII and the fact that this man defied death so many times in the name of serving our country brought me to tears many times as I read. Plus, the writing is fantastic and it’s the kind of book where you learn a whole lot, but don’t realize you’re learning it. Highly, highly recommend.

On Writing by Stephen King: For a wannabe writer like me, this book was compelling, encouraging, fascinating, and life-altering (in a very non-dramatic way). If you like to write, or even if you just like King, it’s a great read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey: I don’t read hardly any celebrity memoirs, because I’m always afraid they will be annoying. This was not at all. There was the perfect amount of name-dropping, insight to the celebrity world, and hilarity. Great read.

Divergent by Veronica Roth: Perfect YA. Characters I fell in love with, a fascinating storyline, dystopian world. Love it.

The Passage by Justin Cronin: So long, and a little boring in the middle, but SO good. Vampire story, but the opposite of Twilight vampires. Can’t wait for the sequel.

The Book Thief byMarkus Zusak: It took me a long time to get into this one, but once I did it was so worth it.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Twilight, but for adults. Witches, other supernatural beings, a great love story, it’s got everything. Another sequel I’m anxiously awaiting.

Bag of Bones by Stephen King: Another example of King at his very best. It still has an element of the supernatural, as all King does, but it’s not over the top. Just very creepy, but almost believable. Really loveable characters and a story that will stay with you for a long time after you’re done.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: Probably not the best writing, but a totally gripping story. And historical fiction, which is my fav.

Honorable Mentions (I told you I read a lot of good books this year!)

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Duma Key by Stephen King (this was almost on the list)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The Stand by Stephen King (this was also, apparently the year of Stephen King)

I could go on, but I’ll stop now! What were the best books you read? Are you on Goodreads?? If so, let me know!

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8 Responses to “Best Books of 2011”

  1. themadgayman January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    I absolutely love Stephen King. He’s my idol. Last year, I had to read On Writing for my Creative Writing class, and it helped me with my writing exponentially. I didn’t realize how much his writing process correlates with mine (at first, he wrote what he saw on screen; I did the exact same thing).

    Anything Stephen King is definitely on my list of things to read. I’ve read Carrie, It, Cujo, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales and his Bachman books. Anytime a movie based off his work comes out, I am definitely there to watch it and I usually love them, despite what Hollywood does because I know the source material is amazing.

    I’ll check out Discovery of Witches and The Magicians. They’ve intrigued me, but I am always weary about spending my money on novels I don’t know much about. But it seems like you and I share the same tastes.

    Thanks!

    • Kristina January 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Discovery of Witches is definitely a book that was targeted to women – it’s very “swoony” if that makes sense. The Magicians is just plain good for everyone 🙂

  2. beckyday6 January 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Oooh this is really interesting, it looks like we have similar taste’s in books. I’m currently reading The Hunger Games and it’s amazing so far. I loved If I Stay, but haven’t yet got around to reading the sequal, Divergent is on my wishlist. A Discovery of Witches and The Book Thief are sitting on my shelf ready to be read, and I just bought 11.22.63 today! Haha. I’m glad you enjoyed these books and hopefully I will enjoy reading them as well! I’ve never heard of Unbroken, I shall definitely have to check that one out 🙂

  3. Life of a Doctor's Wife January 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    The Tiger’s Wife – OMG go read this book right now. Best book of the year, hands down.

  4. Ryan January 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    You gonna get all classical on me in 2012 or were you just engaging in tomfoolery?

    • Kristina January 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Oh, I’m going to get classical, don’t you worry 🙂 What’s next on our list??

  5. Denise January 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Enjoyed The Hunger Games – actually enjoy is too light of a compliment. I loved them. I also read The Passage. Anything vampire is fun for me and I liked his twist. I also liked that this was a grown-up vampire novel.

    Some of my picks for this year:
    Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
    A Thousand Sisters – Lisa Shannon
    The Snowman – Jo Nesbo (it’s a nordic thriller. Have suddenly become obssessed with them.
    Faithful Place – Tana French (it is third in a series, but you don’t have to read them all)
    Little Bee – Chris Cleave

  6. Heather January 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank you for providing me a “Download to Kindle ASAP” list, lady!

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