Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Susan's Top 10 Books of 2011
Now, in a normal year, paring down a top 10 list is a torturous process for me. This year, it was just ridiculous. Oddly enough, in some ways, having to be so ruthless with the cuts made it easier. What I've compiled below is a very idiosyncratic list. I'll tell you right now, from an objective viewpoint, these are not necessarily the best books I read this year. There were a lot of highly acclaimed novels that I read and loved that surely deserve to be on this list more. A few examples:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides was the 11th book on my short list. I thought it was fantastic. But it didn't effect me as strongly as some of theses others that I did choose.
And I wrote a review of The Art of Fielding, the acclaimed novel by Chad Harbach, the other night. I read the book months ago, but reflecting on the book in order to finally write the review, I realized more than ever how much I'd enjoyed reading it, and what an accomplished debut it is.
And I read Haruki Murakami's massive and impressive 1Q84 this year! And I enjoyed it so much! The language, especially, was just unbelievable. I still want to carry the tome around and make people listen to me read from it. But truthfully... It was just a little too much work to make my top 10 list.
So, what did make the cut? And how did I choose? Well, simply put, these are the books that I felt that I had the strongest response to. Perhaps I can explain that a little better in the notes that accompany each pick. What you'll notice is that about half of these books are on every mainstream reviewers' list, and about half of them are on no one's. That seems like a good balance to me. But the single most interesting thing about this collection of titles? Seven of the ten are debut novels. Me and the NYT, we're simpatico, yo. (And we are. Three of their five fiction picks overlap my own.)
As is my tradition, only the #1 pick is ranked. The rest are in no particular order. And without stalling any further, here are my top ten books of 2011:
So, for better or worse, those were my top 10 for 2011. Agree? Disagree? Feel like sharing your own list? I'd love to get the year started with a good discussion!