Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2011

For weeks I've looked forward to this list, for the delight of reminiscing about what felt like a year of honestly fantastic reading.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

For the sake of sanity, series count as one entry; otherwise, The Wheel of Time might have made an unfair share of appearances. Also, I've not counted re-reads unless I hadn't read the book since childhood. Re-reading a book as an adult is a new experience even if you remember the story.

Not necessarily in perfect order:

1. The Host by Stephenie Meyer. A tale of two souls in one body, the physical force of love, and what it means to be human. By far Meyer's best work, in my opinion. Review.

2. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Beautiful on the first read and even better on the second. I loved this story with my whole heart. Honorable mention to Forest Born, the fourth Book of Bayern, as well. Review.

3. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Artful prose, deeply empathetic character portrayals, and a warm, loving, thoughtful little heroine. Review.

4. Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl. Sci-fi meets fantasy in a beautifully-written interplanetary tale. Review.

5. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. These books finished what began with stories like The Chronicles of Narnia and No Flying in the House: they sold me wholly on speculative fiction. It's my favorite genre now. Review of book 1.

6. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I liked the first one, but loved the second and third. It's brain candy, hilarious and suspenseful, but it sneaks a little bit of classical education into you when you're not looking. I've got the fourth out from the library right now. Review of book 1.

7. The Emily books by L.M. Montgomery. I greatly preferred the first to the second and third, but adored the heroine and truly did love her early days (and, admittedly, a few of her later days as well). Review of book 1.

8. Anna Karenina by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Two moral and spiritual journeys: one toward despair and madness, one toward happiness and peace. I didn't expect to care much for it, and was very pleasantly surprised. Review coming.

9. Beauty by Robin McKinley. My first experience with McKinley's work, and as a fan of fairy tale retellings, I adored it. Lovely in every way. Review.

10. That Summer by Sarah Dessen. I loved this story for its splendid sense of place and character, and for how much I could sympathize with protagonist Haven McPhail. Review.

The Silmarillion may knock something off the list if I finish it in time (can I get through the last 2/3 in four days? We'll see...) It's beautiful so far.

What were your favorite reads of this year?


  1. In reverse chronological order (of reading), here's the best of what I gave 5 stars this year:

    The Eyre Affair (and The Well of Lost Plots, my favorite of it's sequels) by Jasper Fforde

    The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

    Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

    Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis
    (also her Doomsday Book - set in the same world of time travel)

    God and Harry Potter at Yale

    Called out of Darkness: a Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice

    The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure

    I'm Proud of You: Life Lessons from My Friend Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan

    Matched by Allie Condie

  2. Meant to add - I completely agree about The Host, and add that if you want to read more Robin McKinley you MUST read both Sunshine, and the Blue Sword (my two favorites of hers of what I've read so far)

  3. I've been a Robin McKinley fan since I was 12, I think. I loved reading her young adult books then, and I so enjoy her adult fantasy now. Have you read her book, Sunshine? It's her contribution to the vampire genre. I wish she'd write a follow-up.

  4. Lots of good books on your list, Alison! I remember loving the Trapp story, and should really read The Wilder Life and God and Harry Potter at Yale.

    Beauty is the only McKinley book I've read, but I definitely need to change that. I think my sister has The Blue Sword, and I intend to borrow it off her. Robyn, I had no idea she'd done a vampire story! Though vampires creep me out like little else, on the double recommendation here, I might give Sunshine a try. :)

  5. I'll do a little conflating with this, but that's only to squeeze in more books than the allotted 10. :) Also these are in no particular order.

    1) Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, & Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. First time I'd read any of them. What a loss I hadn't read them earlier in life!

    2) The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally read all of the Holmes stories & novels. Great stuff for the most part.

    3) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.

    4) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. 3rd book I've read by Hale. I especially like the complementarian way she portrays the male-female relationships.

    5) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. So much to mine here.

    6) Death Rides the Sky: The Story of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado by Angela Mason. There's only three books I know of on this tornado which was the worst in American history. They're all good but this one is the best of the three.

    7) The Battle of Midway by Craig Symonds and Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal by James Hornfischer. Very detailed but readable accounts of two of the pivotal naval battles of WWII.

    8) Anything I've read by P.G. Wodehouse over the past year.

    9) The Chronicles of Pyrdain by Lloyd Alexander. Been decades since I'd read these books but read them again because a certain blogger was reading them. ;)

    10) For my final choice, I'm just going to give a shout out to books in general. They're great & wonderful & magical things.

  6. Ooh, some of my favorite books, George! :D

    I keep meaning to read more Wodehouse, and I keep forgetting. Maybe once I unbury myself from the pile of Christmas books (not that I'm complaining, mind.)

    Oh, and I'm totally with you on Hale's ability to portray men and women in complementary relationship. She manages to pull off strong female characters while letting the boys keep their natural male strength. I appreciate that a lot.

  7. The good thing about Wodehouse is there's lots of free & very cheap copies of his works in the Kindle store. :)

  8. I also enjoyed reading Siren & Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn.

  9. Oh, right... I keep meaning to read those! Checking to make sure they're on my to-read list...


All comments are currently moderated. Friendly comments are welcomed with fairy music, magic wishes, and possible unicorn sightings. Troll comments will be Transfigured into decent-looking rocks or Vanished. Spam comments will be shot down with blasters.