The Best of 2011 In Books

Posted 7 December, 2011 by Lianne in Meme / 4 Comments

The Perpetual Page-Turner is hosting the end of the year book survey meme again! I filled out this meme last year, which was a great way to recap the year in reading =) Of course, there’s still the rest of the month to go in terms of reading, but I think I’ve read enough this year to fill this survey out completely =P

Edit (27 December 2011): Read some interesting books since I initially filled this meme out so I’m making some slight corrections, lol.

GENERAL
01. Best Book You Read In 2011?
Not an easy question to answer at all =P Looking at my list of books read in 2011, these were the best books I read this year (it’s a lot, I know, but I tried my best to dwindle it down! It was sooooooooo hard!):
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
George VI by Sarah Bradford
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Venetia by Georgette Heyer
Juliet by Anne Fortier
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis

02. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
Mmm, probably Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth saga. I’ve heard wonderful things about the duology and it’s pretty much a must-read if you’re into space opera but when it came down to it, I thought it was really bogged down with so much detail and it moved so slow that I just didn’t care about the characters in the end, which is unfortunate because the scope and worldbuilding was interesting. It was just that it was too much and not enough on the plot and character sympathy side.

03. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
I couldn’t really think of a book to put here but Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise comes to mind. I would describe it as surprising in a sense that this book was from a rough draft of her novel and it was just amazing to read soem of her descriptions; it did not feel like a rough draft at all, everything flowed smoothly and the narrative was just so vivid. It is so sad that she was unable to finish her novel =(

I should also make a special mention to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (which I wrote a commentary/review of in this entry); I read it earlier this year while I was still living in Ottawa for grad school and I did not expect to choke up the way I did at the end! I had to stifle it in fear that my roommate would hear me and wonder what the heck I was reading, lol! But it was a good book.

04. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
At work, I’ve been recommending Lucinda Grindle’s The Villa Triste quite a bit (you can read my commentary/review of the novel over here) because it’s a nice balance of historical fiction and mystery, covering the Italian experience under Fascism during World War Two at a more personal level.

Personally, I’ve also been recommending Anne Fortier’s Juliet quite a bit on LJ and stuff (you can read my commentary/review of the book in this entry). I read it during my vacation to Italy two months ago and absolutely adored it; it was an interesting take on the Romeo & Juliet story and the historical detail about Sienese life was very fascinating. It pretty much grabbed me from the get go so yeah, I’ve been gushing about it quite a bit since I got back xD

05. Best series you discovered in 2011?
I’m not big on series (as I have too many outstanding trilogies and other series committed to at the moment) but Larry Niven’s book Destroyer of Worlds was an interesting introduction to his famous Ringworld series which I hope to check out in the near future =)

Kevin J. Anderson’s The Hidden Planet (my review of this novel is here) was also a great start to his Saga of the Seven Suns. I hope to check out the other books in this series in the near future =)

06. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
Not a totally new author to me, but I finally got around to reading Georgette Heyer’s books, which are like the best thing ever (well, up there amongst the best things ever). It’s the perfect fix for Jane Austen/Regency lovers (you can just search my blog, I’ve made a few posts commenting on a number of her books).

07. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Not exactly a new genre for me but Bob Ong’s books were definitely outside of my comfort zone because they’re written in Tagalog and not English. I speak and understand Tagalog but I’ve never exactly read books in the language before, so that was a new and interesting experience for me.

08. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep. I read it in one evening; I could not put it down because I just had to know what was going on! lol

09. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Daniel Silva’s The Rembrandt Affair. It’s an exciting time of the year when Daniel Silva’s books hit mass paperback and this volume did not disappoint =)

S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes was another book that I was oggling over since I first heard of it; if you’re into the space opera genre, it definitely does not disappoint because it really brings back that sort of plot-driven, character-intense element to the genre back to the fore. Cannot wait to see what is in store for the rest of the series.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?
Toss up between this cover:

and this cover:

11. Most memorable character in 2011?
Wow, I read so many books this year that it’s hard to say who was the most memorable character amongst them! Aside from books from series I’ve been reading (i.e. Silva’s Gabriel Allon books, Martin’s ASoIaF), I’d have to say the character of Alessandro from Anne Fortier’s Juliet. If he was a character in real life…well, hehehe, suffice to say he’s a pretty intriguing character ^_~

12. Most beautifully written book in 2011?
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Her descriptions of some of the tents and magical sets that Marcus and Celia created in Le Cirque des Rêves were just beautiful, it would be awesome to see them in real life. They were very imaginative, kudos to Ms. Morgenstern for writing such sets! (You can read my review of her novel in this entry)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
I would say Sarah Bradford’s George VI biography. I had watched The King’s Speech earlier this year and absolutely adored it (deserved all of its accolades IMO) and reading the life of George VI was really an experience unto itself. It’s quite admirable to read how he took up his responsibilities as king of an empire despite of his reservations and insecurities, not to mention the speech impediment, weak health, etc. To have overcome all of that, lead an empire through a devastating world war and still manage to retain a stable family life is quite an accomplishment and something to look up to, I think.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
Oh man, there’s a few I could list here but the honour here goes to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Despite having read War and Peace years ago, I was kind of afraid to pick up Anna Karenina for some reason—maybe because I had an idea of what the novel was about, or many it was the absurd idea that this novel was longer and denser than War and Peace. Anyways, I was totally wrong: this novel was a lot easier to get through and there was just so much going that it was just fantastic to read. It’s definitely my favourite Tolstoy novel now; you can read my full (and highly spoilerish) commentary of the novel in this entry.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
I have a few favourites from this year (I’ve started jotting down my favourite quotes from the books I’ve read):

“No man like sto acknowledge that he has made a mistake in the choice of his profession, and every man, worthy of the name, will row long against the wind and tide before he allows himself to cry out, ‘I am baffled!’ and submits to be floated passively back to land.”
– p. 28, The Professor by Charlotte Bronte

“‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.'”
A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

“‘I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here.'”
– p. 194, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“‘Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.'”
– p. 104, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“The stars were coming out, springtime stars with a silvery glow.”
– p. 28, Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
I reckon I’ll be reading the following in 2012 again:
– Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (I seem to be re-reading this every year but I am debating about applying for a PhD so re-reading this book will be compulsary for me)
– Jane Austen’s Persuasion (because you know, I read this every year now =P)
– Jim Butcher’s Furies of Calderon (I think I read this too fast the first time around)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Oh man…how to avoid spoilers for this question…George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords had so many WTF/OMG moments in that novel (especially the last chapter of the novel before the epilogue, Sansa’s chapter; all I’m going to say is that those last two pages left me like DDD= =OOO).

LOOKING AHEAD…
01. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
I have a few but Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. I’ve been oggling over this book since I first heard of it. I got the paperback during the summer but because of my thesis, I had to put it on hold. It’s over 1000 pages long and I want to truly enjoy it when I get around to it so yeah, it will be a priority in 2012.

02. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
Patrick Rothfuss’s Wise Man’s Fear. I know it’s out in hardback right now but I want it in mass paperback to match my copy of his The Name of the Wind novel xD Oh, and Daniel Silva’s Portrait of a Spy in mass paperback too =P

03. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
Reading-wise, it would be nice to dwindle my to-read list down considerably (which is always a work-in-progress; just as I manage to dwindle it down to a managable state, somehow I’d magically make it super massive again after a trip or two to the bookstore). I seem to be getting there at the moment, I think. It would be great to get around to the two Italian novels on my list (I also have two Italian copies of Alessandro Baricco’s books Silk and The Ocean Sea; I’ve been meaning to re-read both and it would be cool to be so in Italian this time around).

Blogging-wise, it would be great to review/comment more on the books I read; I think I’ve done more this year than in previous years, but it would be great to try and comment on most of the books I’ve read. It would also be nice to become more active in the blogging community for readers in general; I participate in memes and stuff but I don’t actually get back to certain blogs, in part because I usually do other things on the Net and I’ve been away with studies for most of this year. Any recommendations on how to get around/become more active in the blogging community?

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4 Responses to “The Best of 2011 In Books”

    • Li

      Glad you enjoyed reading this post and thanks for the subscription! =)

      That’s cool that you read Juliet recently too; I think I mentioned in my review of the novel that I made the mistake of reading it while I was in Italy a few months ago—found myself wanting to stay in and finish reading the book rather than go out explore! lol.

    • Li

      Ahh, yes, she’s absolutely wonderful! I haven’t been disappointed with her work, they’re just so much fun to turn to, especially if you want a light read and want to relax =)

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