Top Ten Tuesday: The Best Of 2011

Break out the champagne, I'm finally ready to post the best of list (which also happens to be the topic today for The Broke and The Bookish Top Ten Tuesday).  These are the ten best books that I read in 2011, not necessarily published in 2011 (although most of them were).  The links this week go to my reviews, click on the images if you would like to buy the books through my Powells' affiliate links.

#10: Rachel Simon,The Story of Beautiful Girl
I was really moved by this story of two people who run away from an asylum together, are separated, and spend the rest of their lives looking for one another.  It was beautifully written and the story was important.

9. J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine:
I haven't reviewed this one yet, but I really enjoyed the interweaving narratives of three generations of women from an Irish Catholic family who come together in a summer of many changes at their Maine beach house.

8. Peter Mountford, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism:
I was surprised by this book.  Not only did it teach me a few things about economics, I was engrossed in the saga of the young reporter turned hedge fund lackey as he navigated his new position in South America.  In the end, it is a great coming of age story for a generation (mine) that sees to be coming of age a little late.

7. Emma Straub, Other People We Married
This is one of the best short story collections I've read.  I enjoyed the accuracy of Ms. Straub's descriptions of the everyday and her quirky set of characters.

6. Evan Mandery, Q: A Novel
This was a strange, but really lovely little story about time travel, and about love, and about finding happiness.  This is another one that surprised me in a very good way.

5. Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story: A Memoir
I'm not always a big fan of memoirs, but I couldn't stop reading this one about Oates' husband's death and the year following it.  Yes, it is very sad, but also very worth reading and it got me interested in reading more of Oates' fiction because she is such a skilled writer.

4. Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
Carson calls this strange little book a novel in verse.  It is part poetry, part rumination on language, part rewriting of myth, part coming of age story.  It's amazing.

3. John Green and David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
This might be my favorite YA novel, like ever.  It got me hooked on John Green. This is the story of two Will Graysons and how their lives intersect.  And it is also very much about male friendships.  And Tiny Cooper.  

2. Benjamin Hale, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
Kind of like Lolita, but narrated by a chimp?  Why wouldn't you read this.  This one is definitely not for every reader, but I found it refreshing and unique, and I never just wanted it to be over with despite its length.

1. Maira Kalman, And the Pursuit of Happiness
I have a girl crush on Maira Kalman (and Emma Straub actually).  I simultaneously want to read everything she has ever written (or drawn) and I want to not, so that I can savor them slowly lest they run out.  This is my favorite of the year, and it is the story of Maira's love affair with American history + awesome (ly strange) drawings.

Honorable Mentions:
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
Ann Patchett, The Getaway Car
Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad
Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

What were your favorite reads this year?  Have you read any of mine?


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