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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Favorite Reads of 2011

I'm having too much fun making lists!

In no particular order, but helpfully divided between fiction and non-fiction:

1. Penelope Wilcock's The Hawk and the Dove trilogy. This one definitely makes it onto my TBReR (To Be ReRead).

2. Sibella Giorello's mysteries. I can't wait for her next release.

3. The Winged Watchman, by Hilda van Stockum. This and the next title compete for best children's book read of the year. This book is set in Holland during WWII and follows one family for a year. I cried at the end. This is one of those books which has every listener, and the reader, begging for more.

4. The Wonder Clock, by Howard Pyle. Luxurious language for fanciful tales.

5. True Grit, by Charles Portis. A lot more fun than I anticipated, with nice antiquated language.

6. Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, by Susannah Clarke. A marvelous, magical story; truly remarkable for a debut novel.

7. The Three-Arched Bridge, Ismail Kadare. Also on my TBReR. Creepy, and sticks with you, but also thought-provoking. I'll be keeping my eyes open for other Kadare books.

8. The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl. Thrilling mystery.

1. Manning Up, by Kay Hymowitz. An important look at how feminism has harmed boys, has kept them from becoming men, and how that has affected such institutions as marriage.

2. In the Land of Invisible Women, by Qanta Ahmed, M.D. I like the insider/outsider perspective and the view into an exotic society.

3. Super Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Explanations of human behavior, which are sometimes unexpected, sometimes humorous, and always interesting. Freakonomics is now on my TBR.

4. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, by Anthony Esolen. A good read for parents and teachers, and anyone who regularly influences children.

5. The Mind's Eye, by Oliver Sacks. Have you ever wondered what it's like to be blind? Or not to recognize faces?

6. Factory Girls, by Leslie T. Chang. Eye-opening account of life in modern China.

7. Glorious Freedom, by Richard Sibbes (I think I've said enough about this one.)

8. The Horse That Leaps through Clouds, by Eric Enno Tamm. Another eye-opening account of life in the China of today, but also in the China of a century ago.

9. The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz. I don't know what to make of the conflicting accounts of the veracity of this story, but it does seem safe to say that even if this particular book is not actually true, that it resembles true stories of the time.

10. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. This is hands down the best book on childbirth I've ever read.

11. Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo. This one changed my thinking about what ails Africa.


  1. Thank you so much for including The Last Dickens on your fiction list! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. My website has some fun extras, if you haven't had a chance to look, including images of some of the characters, and news on my new book which comes out in February, called The Technologists. Happy new year!

  2. Well, Mr. Matthew Pearl, I'm both flattered and flabbergasted that you'd comment on my post. I hadn't known about your new book, but now I look forward to reading it. I enjoyed your Dante Club as well, when I read it a few years ago. I'll visit your site.