Books I read in 2011

With a comment or two, if I felt so inclined.

  • Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems Volume 2 (Poetry) – some gems, and better in small doses, I was surprised that I wasn’t taken by the work of this celebrated poet.
  • John Rock’s Paseando: Out for a walk (Autobiography) – an interesting and engaging book by a friend – travel tales and more
  • Richard Labonte’s Beautiful Boys (Gay Erotica/Anthology) – I thought this was a good, digestable mix of stories – some more traditional erotica, others less so.
  • Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall (Fiction) – I’ve read everything that he’s written and I’m not stopping now. Many moments of beauty, but I wasn’t as engaged as previous books.
  • Larissa Lai’s Automaton Biographies (Poetry)
  • Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet (Fiction) – This is Australia, it’s language, it’s heart and bones. They should have made me read this when I landed in Sydney.
  • Carol Shields’s The Stone Diaries (Fiction) – Again. I started it and realized I’d read it before.
  • Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon (Memoir)
  • Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness (Short Fiction)
  • Charles Merewether’s Ai Weiwei: Under Construction (Art Criticism/Review)
  • Best American Poetry 2011 (Poetry)
  • Dave Eggers’s Short Short Fiction (Fiction)
  • Tim Miller’s Shirts & Skin (Autobiography/Gay)
  • Joanne Harris’s Coastliners (Fiction)
  • Tina Fey’s Bossypants (Autobiography/Comedy)
  • Patrick Gale’s Rough Music (Fiction)
  • E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (Fiction/Children’s)
  • Jennifer Egan’s Welcome to the Goon Squad (Fiction) – my pick for the year. Great writing, great story-telling, of-the-moment, funny, touching. The whole gamut. Loved it.
  • Alan Downs’s The Velvet Rage (Psychology) – essential reading for gay men. If it doesn’t help you understand yourself, you’ll recognise your friends!
  • Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (Fiction) – As a first foray into trying to read a book on an iphone, this was a good choice – with a linear narrative. Always wondered what the fuss was about, and now I know: really beautiful use of language. Jane is a pretty fabulous character too, though I think I really understood her after seeing this year’s film version (which was great).
  • Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood (Fiction) – I love that Atwood did a companion novel set at the same time as Oryx and Crake but from a completely different perspective. Inventive, readable, poetic and engaging. That’s how I like ’em.
  • Dan Disney’s and then when the (Poetry)
  • Chandler Burr’s The Emperor of Scent (Biography/Science) – Review on my blog.
  • Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road (Fiction) – Review on my blog.
  • Ian McEwan’s Company of Strangers (Fiction)
  • Anita Desai’s The Zigzag Way (Fiction) – Review on my blog.
  • Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups (Fiction) – I traded in a stack of books at Elizabeth’s used book store, and used them to buy the Burr, Chabon, McEwan, Desai and Tyler… I’d say the Burr was the most engaging! What next, what next?
  • Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s A Recipe for Bees (Fiction) – a Canadian novelist who had a hit with her first book. I found this engaging and quite lovely – and enjoyed the older narrator. I’m a bit tired of the trope of the curmudgeonly, cute and cuddly older narrator (i.e. I did love the story of Water for Elephants, but found the narrator a bit much) and found this speaker much richer and more interesting.
  • Dr. Raymond Moody’s Glimpses of Eternity (Spirituality) – a follow-on to his book about near-death experiences, this one is about shared-death experiences. I’m open to what he presents though didn’t love the way he presented it.
  • Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table (Fiction) – I finished the first half in the last days of 2011…

Feel free to share in comments your favourite book of 2011.

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2 Responses to Books I read in 2011

  1. andyq says:

    Some recommendations and comments from facebook friends:

    *One of my favourites was “Under Heaven” by Guy Gavriel Kay. A fantastic Canadian author.

    *I loved Year of the Flood too. But my fave was probably ‘Plastic – A Toxic Love Story’. I prefer non-fiction.

    *”The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” by David Mitchell. He is brilliant and a master wordsmith.

    *Perdurabo” by Richard Kaczynski, the first fully researched, detailed biography of Aleister Crowley. Tragic & funny & as Peter Lamborn Wilson says, it “takes the magic seriously.” 705 pages!

  2. andyq says:

    And some more…

    David: ‎”At All Costs” by David Weber- Apocalyptic outer-space opera shoot-’em-up massed spaceship, bang-bang mega slaughter from the Honor Harrington series.

    Sylla: “The Alexandria quartet” by Lawrence Durell

    Heather: Sum! Great, diverse imaginations about what happens after we die… Very fun and thought-provoking.

    Emma: If I could only recommend one it would be The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

    Matthew: ‘Just Kids’ Patti Smith’s beautifully written account of her relationship with Mapplethorpe.

    Jonathan: Yep – ‘Year of the Flood’. The pre-disaster dystopia she describes in it (and in Oryx & Crake) is so credible. Only a few steps away, it sometimes seems…

    Freddy: The Slap

    Mary: Think mine was Patti just kids – gotta love the girl and brilliantly written …

    Linda: We’ve been reading the Pendragon series.

    David: A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin was good too.

    Kirsten: What I talk about when I talk about running – Haruki Murakami

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