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.
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.
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 Well” by 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.