Although I read a lot of books in 2011, I certainly didn’t read all that were published in 2011, and I didn’t read exclusively books that were published in 2011. So a “Best Of” list is a strange thing to produce. Necessarily, it is a list of the best books I read, not the best books that were published. I read pretty widely, too, so I need to break this down into categories. And to hedge my bets, most categories have runners-up!
Best Novel (published in 2011): Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, reviewed here.
Honorable mention: Family Fang by Kevin Wilson; and To Be Sung Under Water, by Tom McNeal, reviewed here.
Other 2011 novels I enjoyed: Blood Clay by Valerie Nieman; The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes; One Hundred and One Nights, by Benjamin Buchholz; and Whale Man, by Alan Michael Parker, which I reviewed here.
Best Novel (published prior to 2011): The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver
Honorable mention: Shanghai Dancing by Brian Castro, reviewed here.
Best Short Story Collection: Accidental Birds of the Carolinas by Marjorie Hudson
Honorable mention: Burning Man by Ed Falco.
Best Young People’s Literature: Eddie’s War by Carol Fisher Saller, reviewed here.
Honorable mention: Catcher, Caught by Sarah Collins Honenberger.
Best Memoir: Witness by Curtis Smith.
Honorable mention: Caged by Cameron Conaway, reviewed here.
Best Buddhist Book: Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor
Honorable Mention: Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das
Best Liberal Book: Aftershock by Robert Reich
Honorable Mention: Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann
I'm looking forward to more good reading in 2012!