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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of 2011 - Final List

It's time for the unveiling of my Top 10 fiction and nonfiction lists for 2011.  I am especially happy with this year's lists, and just reading through them brings back great reading memories about the discovery of new authors, the return of some old reliables, and the great fun I've had here on Book Chase in the last twelve months.  So, here goes with the lists:

2011 Top 10 - Fiction
1.  Nemesis - Philip Roth (October, 2010, novel set in 1950s New York)
2.  Saturday - Ian McEwan (2006 novel set in London)
3.   Remember Ben Clayton - Stephen Harrigan (novel set in 1920s Texas)
4.  The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach (coming of age baseball novel)
5.  The Sisters Brothers  - Patrick deWitt (western noir novel)
6.  Love at Absolute Zero - Christopher Meeks (comic novel about science and love)
 7.  Doc - Mary Doria Russell (realistic western about Holliday and the Earps)
8.  Lost Memory of Skin - Russell Banks (novel about registered sex offenders in Miami)
9.  The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides (college novel set in 1980s)
10. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb - Melanie Benjamin (novel about little people and P.T. Barnum)
I just realized, while putting this list together, that my reading taste seems to be evolving because there is no detective or crime fiction on the list despite how many books of that type I still read.  Too, I'm slowly moving away from listing books published in prior years - only two on the fiction list for 2011 - but I think that books published late in the year are often considered for the next year's list, so I have only one "ringer" on the list this year,

2011 Top 10 - Nonfiction

1.  If Trouble Don't Kill Me - Ralph Berrier (August, 2010, dual biography of two musician brothers from rural Virginia)
2.  Wolf : The Lives of Jack London - James L. Haley (Jack London biography)
3.  Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens (memoir republished in 2011)
4.  A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents - and Ourselves -  Jane Gross (a brilliant how-to manual)
5.  Tiny Terror: Why Truman Capote (Almost) Wrote Answered Prayers - Todd Schultz (biographical analysis of Capote's mind)
6.  Chinaberry Sidewalks - Rodney Crowell (loving biography of the country singer's parents)
7.  We Were Not Orphans: Stories from the Waco State Home - Sherry Matthews (adults remember their childhood years in Texas state home)
8.  Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year - Charles Bracelen (Grant's race against cancer to finish his memoirs)
9.  He Stopped Loving Her Today - Jack Isenhour (creation of the greatest country song ever recorded)
10. What It Is Like to Go to War - Karl Marlantes (Vietnam war memoir) 

And, that's it, a fond farewell to 2011, and an enthusiastic welcome to 2012 (the last year I plan to hold a full-time job, by the way, so it's bound to be a memorable one for me).  
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