Monday, November 21, 2011
Searching for the perfect gift for the holidays? Or maybe just a good book to help you get through the dark, cold winter ahead? I've asked Boston Book Festival staff to weigh in on the best books they read in 2011. Given our opinionated staff and eclectic tastes, there's bound to be something here for everyone on your list--even yourself!
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
Picking favorite books from among the BBF 2011 list is a little like saying which of your children you love best. Having said that, The Cat's Table was indeed a favorite!
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe
I was not familiar with Jonathan Coe before 2011, but I'm glad I discovered him this year.
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
There But for The by Ali Smith
Loaded with wordplay and whimsy, experimental in form, this novel by Whitbread Award-winner Smith is a great choice for anyone who enjoyed Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad.
The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt
Perhaps the most intellectual--but no less heartwrenching--breakup novel ever, this is the story of Mia, who retreats from the fallout of her marriage to small-town Minnesota, where she connects with communities of women and girls even as she considers the philosophical, historical, and literary underpinnings of heterosexual romance.
Just My Type by Simon Garfield
I've been fascinated by typefaces ever since my own publishing internship more than a decade ago; Garfield's latest explores the history and variety, as well as the uses (and misuses) of typefaces from Gutenberg to the present.
Little, Big by John Crowley
This unbelievably lovely American fantasy novel celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2011, and it still deserves to be read by a wider audience. A wholly original conception of fairyland, a reservoir of lyrical language, a meditation on marriage and family life--Little, Big is a genuine treasure.
The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
I've been reading a lot of Barbara Kingsolver this year. These books are a pair (not quite a series, since it's only two). They are about a young woman who buys a car and leaves her small hometown to reinvent herself. Along the way, she adopts a young Cherokee girl and finds that she needs to reinvent both of them. The stories are complex, entirely plausible, and immediately emotionally involving.
Shop Indie Bookstores
Shop Indie Bookstores
Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley
With more and more signs popping up at eating establishments concerning allergies, Beasley's memoir about her allergic life seems incredibly well timed. She elegantly balances personal anecdotes with historical and medical research concerning allergies to give a taste of what it's like to be an allergic child, or even adult. Contrary to the humor in the book, Beasley is sure to show that this is no laughing matter, that sometimes lives depend on avoiding some peanut dust.
We the Animals by Justin Torres
In his slim, abstract debut novel, Torres tells the story of a group of brothers growing up in upstate New York. He effectively uses the plural narrator "we" to communicate the boys as a collective, banded together against the world. At times it is funny or sentimental, and other moments are downright heartbreaking. The brevity of sentences and the novel as a whole packs a punch that will leave a memorable mark.
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
A somewhat ignored Faulknerian text, this fast-paced noir thriller from seventy years ago reads as dark and quick as ever in the present day. In a quest for the truth, different accounts of the same evening are given until slowly the pieces begin to come together concerning the tragic ingenue Temple Drake. Even with grungy characters and circumstances, Faulkner's lyrical prose reads lovely and harrowing as he plays with time and perspective in one of his most controversial works.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
It was a real "must read" this year, and it's always nice when you actually enjoy reading must reads!
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Eugenides is just such a great writer.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
At first I was dubious of the novel and its structure, since Chip moves so far away, and so soon, but at the end all I could say was, "Touché, Franzen. Touché."
Evening by Susan Minot
Subtle, alluring and strange.
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
Way better than On the Road and, in my opinion, the best book he ever wrote.
Joe College by Tom Perrotta
It's one of Perotta's lesser-known books, but it's impossible not to relate to the main character, Danny. Entertaining read.
Page 1 of 1 pages