Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Best Books of the Year (So Far)

Amazon has seen fit to list The Best Books of the Year (According to Them), so I thought I would do the same.

Thus far, I've read 29 books (34 if you count the ones I'm currently reading).  Out of those, this is the short-list of ones which have most moved, provoked, and/or entertained me.  There's no guarantee they will all make my year-end "Best Books" list--it's going to be especially hard to winnow down those choices this year because it's a bumper crop--but these are all titles I would gladly, eagerly press into strangers' hands and say, "Here, read this!"


Volt by Alan Heathcock
My review can be found here


Quiet Americans by Erika Dreifus
My review can be found here


So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
My review can be found here


The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
My review can be found here


The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
My review can be found here


The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack
A review is coming soon...I promise!


American Masculine by Shann Ray
(Okay, confession time: I'm still only halfway through Ray's short story collection, but unless it completely falls apart in the second half, I'm confident this will make the year-end list.)

I confined myself to books published in 2011, so that leaves off some of the other great reads I've enjoyed since January, including The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain, and the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary.  And, yes, for those of you keeping score at home, I did finish The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.  I'm still collecting my thoughts on that "novel" but at this point I don't think it will make the short-list of my favorite books of the year.  There is a lot of brilliance in those pages--some of the best writing Wallace has ever done--but overall it doesn't hold together cohesively (thus the air quotes around the word "novel").

So there you have it, my raves and faves.  And there are still plenty more books waiting to be read between now and December.  This is shaping up to be one of the best years for fiction (especially short fiction) I've seen in a long, long time.

And what about you?  What have you read in 2011 that solidifies your faith in the written word?  Share your recommendations in the comments section.

6 comments:

  1. Loved Volt! and just about to start Tiger's Wife. Going to check out some of your other recommendations. Wonderful selection.

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  2. I've read (and loved) Volt & The Sojourn, so we seem to be on a similar track; you've just added to my TBR list...

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  3. Siobhan Fallon, You Know When the Men Are Gone, is my favorite so far. Also Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (though I may have read it in 2010 - can't remember). Have added Volt! and Tiger's Wife to my list for the time when I go back to reading novels - thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. I have Volt and The Tiger's Wife very wishlisted. (Is there such a thing? Or is that like "extremely unique"?) Some favorites of mine so far this year have been Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers, Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, and Michael Crummey's Galore.

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  5. Hmmm...my book list is at home but I have to leave a bit of praise for The Borrower, which I adored.

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  6. I'm reading Volt one story at a time, but I can already tell that it's going to be on my list at the end of the year. Here's the list I did for the year so far...

    http://indiereaderhouston.com/blog/2011/06/5-best-books-of-2011-so-far/

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