Books Read in 2011

Last year, I set the goal of reading 30 books, and somehow managed to surpass that goal, by reading 40 books. The books are listed, more or less, in chronological order from most recently read.

So, in looking back at the past year of reading, what stands out? How best to categorize or discuss the books? There’s always the easy “best” and “worst” categories, but that may not be very helpful.

Strangest Book: The winner of that prize goes to Kangaroo Notebook by Kōbō Abe. Kangaroo Notebook is a surreal narrative about a man who starts to turn into a radish. It’s creative, bizarre, and sad. I really enjoyed reading it.

Most Overhyped: Hands down this award goes to 1Q84. There was so much buzz around the book and it seemed like people were scared to say aloud that the book(s) wasn’t good. Murakami is repetitive and narrative meanders around for pages upon pages. All around, 1Q84 was a huge disappointment.

Most Unsettling: For this category, Point Omega by Don DeLillo edges out Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam. While Lamb leaves the reader complicit in a dark story, Point Omega stands the reader next to the faceless anonymity of terror. The unknown is more terrible than the known.

Favorite Author: Last year was the first time I read anything by Jonathan Franzen. The Corrections was wonderful and I’m currently reading Freedom and love it.

Least Memorable: The winner is Blackout by Connie Willis. This was the first and last book I’ve read by Willis. Plot holes, generic characters, bad writing, you name it, and Blackout suffered from it. I randomly grabbed this during lunch one day when I was between books. Almost forgot I read it.

Uncategorized: 2666 is one of those books that’s tough to place in a category. It was challenging and made me think. The story went all over the place. At times, the writing was sharp and then it would wander all over the page. Compared to 1Q84, it was wonderful, but again, the novel is so sprawling it’s hard to see how everything relates.

Most Enjoyable: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. The writing was spectacular and it felt like a complete novel.

If you want to look at the other books, which I didn’t mention, scroll down the list and click on the reviews. Other books, which I didn’t spend time on, but were wonderful include: The Sleepwalker at Sea, Blink, and The Windup Girl (this book may especially appeal to readers who liked Margaret Atwood’s novels The Year of the Flood, and Oryx and Crake). Also, if you have any suggestions of books to read in 2012, let me know.

  1. Temperance: Malkasian, Cathy
  2. The Sleepwalker at Sea: Grovier, Kelly
  3. A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5): Martin, George R.R.
  4. Lamb: Nadzam, Bonnie
  5. 1Q84: Murakami, Haruki
  6. The Warsaw Anagrams: Zimler, Richard
  7. Blackout (All Clear, #1): Willis, Connie
  8. The Oregon Experiment: Scribner, Keith
  9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: McCullers, Carson
  10. Laughing Whitefish: Traver, Robert
  11. The Solitude of Prime Numbers: Giordano, Paolo
  12. Mademoiselle Fifi And Other Stories: Maupassant, Guy de
  13. You are Not a Gadget: Lanier, Jaron
  14. Blink: Gladwell, Malcolm
  15. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2): Rothfuss, Patrick
  16. The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long as It Takes: Silber, Joan
  17. The Russian Debutante’s Handbook: Shteyngart, Gary
  18. The Corrections: Franzen, Jonathan
  19. Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: Kenrick, Douglas T.
  20. While the Women Are Sleeping: Marías, Javier
  21. The Haunting of Hill House: Jackson, Shirley
  22. The Book of Bunny Suicides: Riley, Andy
  23. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Jones, Diana Wynne
  24. The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1): Fforde, Jasper
  25. A Visit from the Goon Squad: Egan, Jennifer
  26. Kitchen: Yoshimoto, Banana
  27. Hardboiled and Hard Luck: Yoshimoto, Banana
  28. Great House: Krauss, Nicole
  29. The Windup Girl: Bacigalupi, Paolo
  30. Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37): Pratchett, Terry
  31. Kangaroo Notebook: Abe, Kōbō
  32. The Left Bank Gang: Jason
  33. The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye: Revell, Donald
  34. I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38): Pratchett, Terry
  35. 2666: Bolaño, Roberto
  36. The Walking Dead, Book Two: Kirkman, Robert
  37. The Walking Dead, Book Three: Kirkman, Robert
  38. The Walking Dead, Book One: Kirkman, Robert
  39. Point Omega: DeLillo, Don
  40. City of Glass: Auster, Paul

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)