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.
When it comes to graphic novels, I treat them as a format and not a genre. So there’s a few graphic memoirs and biographies that are among the best books I’ve read this year but will be featured on my favorite non-fiction books list.
The Odyssey by Garth Hinds. Garth Hinds does a magnificent job of bringing Homer’s The Odyssey to life. Readers will find themselves wanting to pick up the original after reading this massive graphic novel. Whether you’ve read the original or not, this book is too good to miss.
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan. Lost and Found is a collection of three previously published tales: The Red Tree, The Lost Things, and The Rabbits, written by John Marsden. As usual, the illustrations are breathtaking, weird, and fit perfectly with each story. The Red Tree is a great analogy about depression while The Lost Things is a quirky story about a boy and an object he found. My favorite story is the magnificent and powerful The Rabbits, a dark tale about colonialism.
Chew: The Omnivore Edition by John Layman and Rob Guillory. Chew: The Omnivore Edition combines the first two books of the Chew series: Taster’s Choice and International Flavor. It’s best if you have the new two books ready to read when you start this edition. Tony Chu is a cibopath – something who knows the origin of any food just by eating it. As an agent for the FDA, this has put him in some sticky situations especially since chicken has been banned worldwide because of an avian virus that’s killed millions. What I love about this series: it’s hilarious, has a neurotic but lovable protagonist, and is not for those without a strong stomach.
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch. If you read my review about Hereville earlier this year, you know I love love love the story of Mirka, an Orthodox Jewish girl who wants to battle dragons. Though everyone else around Mirka has a different idea how she could spend her time, this headstrong character doesn’t want to stop her quest though she has no idea where to start. When Mirka finds the house of a witch in her small town, she may have just found a way to slay dragons. Though meant for a middle-grade audience, Hereville is a book that even adults will love.
Fables 14: Witches and Fables 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham. I love this series. If you haven’t read book one yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. After the disappointment of Fables Vol. 13, volumes 14 and 15 redeem Willingham. In Witches, Bufkin the Monkey is trapped in Fabletown’s mayor’s office with Baba Yaga, a new character Mr. Dark is introduced, and readers learn more about Frau Totenkinder. In Rose Red, the evil Mr. Dark is getting closer to destroying the Fabletown community and it’s time for Rose Red to step up. Will she? Fables readers will find much to love about these two volumes that are among the best of the series.
The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier. I’m noticing that some of my favorite graphic novels this year are part of a series: Fables, Zeus, Hereville, Chew, and Scott Pilgrim. I’m finding that fact to be lovely and scary since I can imagine all the time I’m going to spend checking authors’ sites waiting for the publication date of the next book in each series. The Unsinkable Walker Bean is part pirate tale, part coming of age story about nerdy Walker Bean who’s sent on a quest to return a stolen pearl skull to two sea witches in order to lift a curse on his beloved grandfather. What happens next is more than anyone could have dreamt of, including Walker himself.
Bayou Vol. 2 by Jeremy Love. Bayou is a comic that is so rich in Southern folktale and lore. Past and present is featured in this dark tale about a young girl’s mission to rescue her friend in an underworld that reminds readers of a Southern version of Alice in Wonderland. Bayou challenges and gives readers a tale that until now, wasn’t found in this format.