2011 Best Books Lists…

Year end is always a time of reflection,  many of us look at the things we’ve done, places we have been, and also those things left undone, yet to be completed.  One thing I always reflect on is the pile of books that I want to read, especially as I go over all the Best Books of the year lists.   So many books and so little time is always the challenge!  Here are a few suggestions for outstanding 2011 titles that you may want to consider.  Remember, if they aren’t available directly through San Diego County Library, you can use Circuit and Link+ available through our catalog.  Ask us if you have any questions on how to use these great resources that are available to SDCL library card holders.  Or if the title you are interested in has no available copies, be sure to place a request for that title, and when it does come available, it will be waiting on the Holds shelf for you in your branch of choice.  Library staff is happy to help anyone with these options. Happy holiday reading!

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See the complete list from Publishers Weekly

The Marriage Plot / Jeffrey Eugenides

Like many of the heroines of the Victorian novels she favors, Madeline Hanna, Brown University class of 1982 English major, must choose between men: the hungry wanderer Mitchell Grammaticus or the brilliant but troubled Leonard Bankhead. Madeline goes with the latter, sidelining her own intellectual pursuits in favor of riding a manic depressive’s roller-coaster through the dawn of semiotics, post-structuralism, identity politics, and psychopharmacology. A coming-of-age novel that’s as unapologetically erudite as it is funny, fun, and profound.  (Publishers Weekly)

See the list of choices by Nancy Pearl, Librarian extraordinaire:

In Zanesville : A Novel by  Jo Ann Beard

The story of a few months in a 1970s adolescent’s life is so accurately portrayed, the dialogue so precisely rendered, the inner monologue so painfully evocative that the reader plainly remembers being the late-blooming teen herself. The book isn’t nostalgic, because Beard doesn’t write as an adult recalling how she thinks she felt way back when. Beard’s narrator is eclectic, thoughtful, witty, imaginative and constantly trying to catch up to her peers, who already seem to know how the world works.  To read In Zanesville is to step back in time—revisiting the bitter and the sweet memories we all share.   (Booklist)

A World On Fire:  Britains Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman (available through Link+)

A very good read and a grand panorama of the war on land and sea, in the press, and in drawing rooms and public assemblies on both sides of the Atlantic. Highly recommended for all students of the Civil War, buffs and scholars alike, and anyone wanting to understand the complicated world of Anglo-American relations.  A  big book rich in description and strong in narrative, with a large cast of characters that includes British nobles and American statesmen jockeying for power, British journalists reporting the war, and Englishmen and Irishmen fighting, respectively, with the Union and Confederate armies in what they regarded as noble causes.  (Library Journal)


The 100 Top Notable Books from New York Times Book Review:  (in alphabetical order!)

The Art of Fielding : A Novel by Chad Harbach

You don’t have to like baseball to savor Chad Harbach’s sumptuous debut novel, a wise and tender story of love and friendship, ambition and the cruelty of dashed dreams, featuring an appealing cast of characters. From the day he discovers Henry Skrimshander on a sun-bleached American Legion baseball field, Mike Schwartz is on a mission to turn the gifted shortstop into a major-league-caliber player.

This allusive, Franzen-like novel, about a gifted but vulnerable baseball player, proceeds with a handsome stateliness.  Chad Harbach makes the case for baseball, thrillingly, in his slow, precious and altogether excellent first novel.   (Bookpage)


Or see what’s most popular on   The New York Times Best Sellers this week:

11/22/63 : A Novel by Stephen King

The buzz on Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63, is that it’s about a man who goes back in time to save JFK. It’s true; that is the mission undertaken by King’s hero, 35-year-old high school teacher Jake Epping. But to a careful reader, it quickly becomes clear that this is actually a novel about falling in love: first with a time period, and then with an awkward, tall librarian named Sadie.  This quietly moving and thought-provoking book, with its unexpectedly poignant ending, is a compelling tale.  Film rights have already been optioned by Jonathan Demme.  (Bookpage)


For children’s and teens best books School Library Journal’s list its top choices:

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Selznick plays with a plethora of interwoven themes, including deafness and silence, the ability to see and value the world, family, and the interconnectedness of life.   The dual text/illustration format is used to tell the stories; the combination provides an emotional experience that neither the words nor the illustrations could achieve on their own.  Although the book is hefty, at more than 600 pages, the pace is nevertheless brisk, and the kid-appealing mystery propels the story. With appreciative nods to museums, libraries, and E. L. Konigsburg, Wonderstruck is a gift for the eye, mind, and heart.   (Booklist)


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