I must admit that I am a sucker for “Year In Review” posts and articles. I enjoy reflecting on what’s happened and though I know a calendar year is a somewhat arbitrary unit, it still works out pretty well as a timeframe to reflect upon.
Many people will right “Best of 2011” lists for many things, but claiming something is “best” suggests that you’ve made a pretty serious survey of what was produced this year. I certainly can’t claim that sort of coverage at all, so I’m going to keep my lists as “Favorites”.
For books, it was a pretty good year for me. I finished 40, which is up from my 2009 high of 37. I was also pretty pleased with the quality of the books I read this year. Very few clunkers – which is something I attribute to paying more attention to book bloggers’ I trust reviews and recommendations. So, good job you guys, keep up the good work.
When The Killing’s Done, by T.C. Boyle. This story of the struggle between two factions trying to control the animal populations on the fragile ecosystem of the Channel Islands off California was far and away my most memorable book this year. Part adventure story, part policy debate, Boyle doesn’t give anyone an easy out from a messy situation and doesn’t dictate who’s right and who’s wrong, leaving that up for the reader to ponder. (Original Review)
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. This is the very rare sequel that I think surpasses the original. Set in the same terrible about-to-collapse society as her stellar book Oryx & Crake, this story follows the survival of two women before, during and after a bio-apocalypse. This book is more human than its predecessor, (which did a phenomenally terrifying job of world-building and destroying) and populated with characters that I ended up caring about. At times thoughtful and at times action-packed, it’s a great great read. (Original Review)
The Leftovers, by Tom Perotta. I expected to enjoy Perotta’s take of suburban life after the occurrence of a Rapture-like event. I thought it was going to be a snarky skewering of holier-than-thou right wingers, but was surprised to find it a thoughtful and occasionally moving examination of loss, grief and the mechanisms we all use to “move on” after tragedy. Don’t get me wrong, it was still clever and wry, but I didn’t expect the depth I found within it. (Original review)
If there are three books this good awaiting me in 2012, it will be a great year.
How about you? What were your favorites?