Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best Books of 2011

Greetings and happy Wednesday to you all!  As I said my post a couple of weeks ago, I did quite a bit of reading in 2011 - 51 books as of today, actually!  I thought I'd share my 5 favorite books that I read in 2011!

Here they are, in no particular order!

 The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - I discovered this book when I was perusing the Barnes & Noble "Best of 2010" list last December.  I was looking for books for my Paris trip and since part of this was set in Paris, it was an easy sell for me.  It did not disappoint.  It is a bit on a the long side, but it's such a great book.  It tells the stories of 3 Hungarian brothers whose lives were torn apart by WWII.  They are Jewish, and thus are subjected to such horrible cruelties, it was difficult to read at times.  However, I think it's important for us to read these kind of books that remind us of the horrors of WWII (and war in general).  Many WWII memorials say, 'Never Forget' - reading books like this is one way we can live out that mission.

 Secret Daughter by Shilip Somaya Gowda

 The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - This is another book that I read while I was in Paris.  It was neat to read about areas that I had explored. This book is difficult to read at times as it does deal with the issue of fidelity.  I usually can't handle books about infidelity, but this one was so well-written.  I recommend reading Hemingway's memoir, A Moveable Feast, before or after reading this, as Hemingway reflects on this same time period, but he writes about it at the end of his life.  He was a total and complete scoundrel in this book, but after reading A Moveable Feast, it made me wonder if, to some extent, he regretted his behavior as he writes about his Paris Wife with such tenderness - you would never have guess that he cheated on her...

 Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - Emily favorably reviewed this one, so I decided to check it out and I am so glad I did.  Wow.  At the beginning of the book, I thought I knew where the story line was going and then BAM - a tragedy that I did not see coming occurs and the book just carries you away from that point on.  Quindlen does an amazing job of writing from the perspective of a parent who has just experienced such a horrible loss.  She uses this sort of detached style of writing that makes you realize how in shock the parent is.  It's hard to describe, but it was so effective. 

The Art of Racing the Rain by Garth Stein - I did not expect to like this book.  It's about car racing and dogs.  I have zero interest in car racing and I am not a dog person.  But I ended up loving this book, which is a true testament to the author's ability to write!  This book is told from the perspective of a dog, which is such a rare narrative technique - but it works.  The owner experiences so many awful things, but the dog does a great job of explaining them and you definitely appreciate the relationship between an owner and their dog.  This book is one of the few books that made me cry in 2011. 

Have you read any of these books?  What were some of the best books you read this year?

PS - I'd like to wish a Happy Birthday to my dear dad!!  I wish I could celebrate with him, but know we will belatedly celebrate his birthday this weekend!  He's set the best example of what I should look for in a husband - he's kind hearted, hard working, devoted to his family, and he has this great quirky sense of humor.  So I wish him the happiest of birthdays!!

19 comments:

Caroline said...

I just finished readying the art of racing in the rain - I loved it! I'll have to add some of these others to my list, I've been looking for some new books

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I'm so excited that Secret Daughter made your top 5 list! I would say that one and Invisible Bridge would also be on my top 5 of the year. I loving Art of Racing in the Rain too, but it's probably more like in the top 10- I read a lot this year too (for me) and I loved so many books! I have to check out the other two you read that I haven't yet :)

Raquelita said...

I'd like to read the Paris Wife. Right now I'm making my way through the Millenium series and then I have to read The Rook (by Daniel O'Malley who is a friend of mine from back in the day). My favorite books of the year were probably Chocolat and The Elephant's Journey.

Stephany said...

I actually haven't read any but they're going on my to-read shelf! My favorite book from 2011 was The Help. Powerful book. So well-written.

Marlys said...

Your Dad said "That was sweet!" You made his day! I will add these books to my list to read as they do sound interesting!

imlivinginadream said...

I LOVED Secret Daughter! I literally could not put that book down for one moment. It's strange because a lot of people gave that book bad reviews, saying that as a new author, her writing was very poor and scattered... I couldn't disagree more!

I really want to read Art of Racing in the Rain and I've heard good things about Paris Wife... Will definitely try to get around to those in 2012 :)

And I love how we're all in sync with this post today lol! Look at us go.

missris said...

I loved The Paris Wife! That was probably my favorite book I read this past year!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I'm totally doing a post like this soon! Wish I had done it today now that you and Stephany did. ;)

We had a few of the same on the list! I'm not sure what will be in my top 10 list yet, though.

I really enjoyed reading some of the same books as you this year and can't wait to read along with you in 2012!

Jess said...

I loved The Paris Wife, as I think I mentioned to you before. I don't know what I was really expecting when I picked it up, but I just really loved it! I keep thinking I now need to read A Moveable Feast now, so you may have motivated me to actually go ahead and do that.

I read a lot of "chick lit" this year, mostly because I still think I'm recovering from not being a student any longer. Sometimes, light reads are just so enjoyable.

Cherry Blossoms said...

Oh how I loved Art of Racing. I heard its going to be made into a movie. Forget the popcorn and hello box of tissues.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I think we had a lot of similarities in our lists! I have not read the Secret Daughter but I am putting it on my To Read list!

I also liked The Invisible Bridge, but I did my list before I had finished reading it!

Jeanie said...

The only one I've read here is Paris Wife. I'll put them on my list!

Lisa-Marie said...

I must get 'Every Last One'. I love Quindlen's writing and haven't read that one.

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

The only one of these books that I've read is The Art of Racing in the Rain and as you know I LOVED that book! I am going to search the rest of the ones you recommended on my kobo and see if I can get them for a decent price. I have 'The Invisible Bridge' on hold at the library but who knows how long it will take to get to me!

Shoshanah said...

I've read none of these, and I'm a little ashamed of myself. I remember reading most of your reviews of these initially and thinking I'd really enjoy several of them. I'm guessing I'll have to try to get to them in 2012

Becky said...

What a great book post! Thanks for some recommendations!

Marisa A. said...

Geez I need to get reading. I haven't actually finished a book in probably a year. I'm a little embarrassed to write that. Hopefully, when my life calms down a bit I can read one of these!

pinkflipflops said...

You are so sweet in your birthday wish to your dad! I need to read The Secret Daughter and The Paris Wife.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I haven't read any of those books.

Happy Birthday to your Dad!