Favorite Reads of 2011: Fiction

Instead of a “best of 2011” list, I‘m posting my favorites of 2011 because many of the books I’ve read this year were published before 2011. My favorite books are the best books I’ve read this year- books that I have or plan on buying and re-reading. I’ve found it pretty hard to narrow my favorites down to just ten books so I’m sharing my favorite books of various genres. Every day this week there’ll be a favorite list posted and by the end of the week, I’ll share my favorite book of 2011.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. What is there not to love about this story of an American girl sent to a French boarding school? Anna is one of those fabulous female teen characters that readers need more of. She’s smart, funny, and a little unsure of herself. I’m so tired of young girl characters who are so smart but constantly make stupid decisions. Thankfully, Anna isn’t one of those girls.

Please Look after Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin. Translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim. This is one of the most unexpected and pleasing reads of the year. The story of five selfish adult children and the search for their missing mother broke my heart. I can’t wait for more work by the author to be translated into English.


The Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Otsuka. I loved this book so much that I couldn’t write a review. The Buddha in the Attic follows the lives of several Japanese “mail brides” as they leave Japan to meet their husbands for the first time in Northern California. Otsuka’s writing is precise and beautiful. It’s a book that I plan on re-reading in 2012.

32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. The story of Davidia “Davie” Jones, who runs away from her small Southern town as a teenager to make it big in Los Angeles, was such an engaging read. Davie is a ugly duckling who doesn’t take some of the pitfalls of life lying down. After reading this, I couldn’t help but want to be more like Davie.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I can’t believe it took me so long to read this classic about mothers and daughters! Told from the point of view of all four mothers and their daughters, there’s a great gulf between the two generations, not only because of age but also because of origin. The mothers are all Chinese-born while the daughters are first generation Americans. There is much miscommunication between the two groups but their love for each other comes across nicely.

Honorary Mentions: 

Love by Toni Morrison. An amazing tale about love, revenge, and greed.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. One of the few books I read in both audio and print at the same time.

Short stories:

I had to include short stories to this list because I read several that stood out. The majority of the stories can be read online in their entirety on Tor.com, just clicked on the titles.

Ponies by Kij Johnson. Johnson takes the imagery of unicorns and turns it on its head.

Fare Thee Wellby Cathy Clamp. For lovers of Greek mythology.

“The Courtship of the Queen” by Bruce McAllister. It’s the sweet and sad story of a boy’s childhood.

“Foster” by Claire Keegan. Thanks to Claire at Paperback Reader for bringing this story to my attention. “Foster” is the story of a young girl’s year-long stay at the home of distant relatives. I’ve read this story many times over the past year and I’ve yet to find the right words for it.

Glitches by Marissa Meyer. “Glitches” is a prequel to the highly anticipated Cinder by Marissa Meyers.

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25 thoughts on “Favorite Reads of 2011: Fiction

  1. Oooh, I loved The Joy Luck Club, both the book and the movie. They were awesome.

    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a book? I had no idea. Sorry, distracted by your sidebar…have to let the wife know. We both loved the movie.

  2. Please Look After Mom is on the longlist for the Man Asian Lit Prize, and I have it here to read before the shortlist announcement on January 10th. Glad you liked it. Something to look forward to.

  3. Have enjoyed quite a few of Amy Tan’s novels and plan to finally read The Joy Luck Club in 2012. The Kitchen God’s Wife is my favorite so far.

  4. I really must read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS this year. It sounds wonderful!

    You’ve reminded me that I forgot to highlight my favourite short story on my own list. I wonder if it’s too late to edit the post to include it? There was only one real stand-out last year, so I’m not sure it deserves its own post. Hmm.

  5. Happy New Year! This is a great list. Please Look After Mom is on my list for 2012, and thanks for the links to those stories.

  6. My ‘best of’ list is always the best of what I’ve ‘consumed’ that year as most of my reading is always outside of what has been published in a given year.

    I know I’ve read some Kij Johnson short stories but I’ll have to check out the one you list because the last Johnson story I read in Eclipse Volume 4 was way too experimental and I just didn’t like it at all. However it got a lot of praise from others, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  7. What a fantastically diverse list! I also loved The Buddha in the Attic and Please Look After Mom. Both were so unique and well-written. I don’t read much YA anymore, but everyone seems to adore Anna and the French Kiss, so I may have to give it a try.

  8. I love Anna andthe French kiss too. I also read the joy luck club a few years ago and remember enjoying it. I’ll have to add the other books to my wishlist.

  9. I love Amy Tan so it is lovely to see her on your list. I haven’t read any of the others, but Buddha in the Attic is high on my TBR pile. Have a wonderful 2012!

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