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2011:  Top 40 Books

K. Krentz "Voracious Reader"
The list author says: "The best fiction and nonfiction - the books I think deserve 4-5 Goodreads stars - are listed here. These are books I think you would enjoy. It seems I'm into memoirs and "poignant" and "hilarious" this year."
Zeitoun
Zeitoun
"This astounding, mesmerizing work of non-fiction set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina is journalism at its best, one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long time.  Zeitoun's faith in America is humbling. (7/17)"
Light in August: The Corrected Text
Light in August: The Corrected Text
"This depiction of racism in the South in the 1920s is a much more accessible Faulkner work in terms of plot, language, and characters than The Sound and the Fury. Now I understand how a man who never graduated from high school merited a Nobel Prize in Literature. (7/31)"
The Unnamed
The Unnamed
"A deeply moving story of a man who cannot stop walking and how this compulsion impacts his family, his career, and his thought processes.  Ferris has a poet's way with language and raises issues that left me too uncomfortable to recommend this book to any particular friend. (6/3)"
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
"Walls' story of her grandmother's life on ranches in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona reminds me of Sandra Day O'Connor's autobiography (which I loved).  She could have been describing any one of my husband's half dozen fiercely independent aunts who grew up on an Arizona ranch between 1910 and 1940. (6/19)"
Too Close to the Falls
Too Close to the Falls
"An engrossing, poignant, and often hilarious memoir by a small town pharmacist's daughter who was so energetic the family doctor prescribed putting her to work at age four.  Set in Upstate New York in the 1950s.  Read it!  (3/27)"
The Storyteller: A Novel
The Storyteller: A Novel
"Llosa was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature.  This is considered his most accessible book and reads more like fact than fiction.  A Peruvian writer wonders how his college friend could walk away from the civilized world in the 1960s and create a new life for himself in a remote area of Amazonia.  (1/31)"
Nemesis
Nemesis
"Roth describes the polio epidemic that struck the Eastern Seaboard in the final months of World War II from the perspective of a young playground director who feels responsible for the health of the children in his care.  A thought-provoking story in terms of faith, fate, and conscience. (6/18)"
Backseat Saints
Backseat Saints
"Jackson writes literary Southern fiction with a humorous twist and I keep going back for more.  This time she resurrects a character from "gods in Alabama" and tackles domestic violence.  Rose Mae is not a character I will soon forget. (7/25)"
Juliet, Naked
Juliet, Naked
"A poignant and often riotously funny tale about a former rock star, an obsessive fan, and a woman who might have wasted fifteen years of her life by settling for a comfortable relationship. Hornby has insights. (4/23)"
Faith: A Novel
Faith: A Novel
"This time Haigh turns her insightful attention on the recent epidemic of pedophilia within Boston's Catholic clerical community.  As the story unfolds through the eyes of disgraced priest's sister, we learn that things are often not what they seem and that faith has many dimensions. (7/10)"
One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
"Two of the most believable characters in modern fiction, Em and Dex hook up at a college graduation party in the late 1980s and we follow their erratic relationship for nearly 20 years by checking in on them on the anniversary of their meeting.  Alternately hilarious and frustrating. (3/8)"
The Weird Sisters
The Weird Sisters
"Amy Einhorn/Putnam strives to publish books that hit "the soft spot between literary and commercial."  The Weird Sisters is another winner.  The sisters are 33, 30, and 27.  Mom has breast cancer.  Dad is obsessed with the works of Shakespeare. (2/6)"
American Music (Vintage Contemporaries)
American Music (Vintage Contemporaries)
"An American soldier severely wounded in Iraq and his massage therapist who connect in a magical way uncover bits and pieces of stories that all come together in the end. Lots of cymbal-ism. Sad story, lovely writing. (5/27)"
Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties
Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties
"Looking Back was first published in 1973 when Maynard was 19 years old.  The new foreward alone is worth the price of admission.  Our shared memories of Women's Liberation, high school fundraising, the 1968 and 1972 election campaigns, and the back to nature movement make me want to throw my arm around her shoulder and dissolve into giggles and tears. (1/29)"
Hiroshima
Hiroshima
"The entire August 1946 issue of The New Yorker magazine was devoted to this riveting account of the bombing of Hiroshima from the perspectives of six survivors. The previous year Hersey received the Pulitzer Prize for A Bell for Adano. (2/26)"
State of Wonder
State of Wonder
"A Minneapolis-based drug company is developing a product in the Amazon in a story plagued by unappealing characters and a ton of insects.  If you like moral conundrums, this one's for you. (7/2)"
Glorious
Glorious
"Easter Bartlett is an enchanting, poignant character and McFadden's lilting voice had my eyes dancing across the pages.  The first chapter is one of the most memorable I have ever read. (2/28)"
What You Have Left
What You Have Left
"Another successful Amazon recommendation, Allison's 2007 debut addresses six-year old Holly's abandonment by her father the day after her mother's funeral from three different perspectives spanning thirty years. Allison's non-chronological approach elevated this story above its predictable plot. (5/30)"
Kokoro
Kokoro
"Most books by Japanese authors leave me pondering the differences between Western and Eastern perspectives.  This surprisingly accessible story written at the dawn of the 20th Century made me ponder the similarities. (3/24)"
The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street 6)
The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street 6)
"Bertie, Domenica, Angus, and Big Lou grow ever more dear as this series evolves.  How fun it must be to live in Edinburgh and read the daily installments in the newspaper. (7/8)"
The Pig Comes to Dinner
The Pig Comes to Dinner
"If books were poems, this would be a limerick.  Another lighthearted quick read in Caldwell's "Pig Trilogy" set in County Kerry.  Caldwell is to Ireland what McCall Smith is to Botswana.(3/25)"
Grammy's Favorite Knits for Baby
Grammy's Favorite Knits for Baby
"An unfortunately titled book crammed with patterns that are pretty darn cute. (7/13)"
Bloodroot (Vintage Contemporaries)
Bloodroot (Vintage Contemporaries)
"Fans of Sharyn McCrumb and Lee Smith will probably enjoy this Appalachian family saga although it might be a bit too familiar. Using six characters to tell the story was a nice twist. (4/25)"
You Know When the Men Are Gone
You Know When the Men Are Gone
"Another winner from Amy Einhorn/Putnam, this collection of eight interconnected stories is set in Ft. Hood, Texas before, during, and immediately after a year-long deployment to Iraq.  Fallon's characters remind me of many young Navy spouses I've either grown to love or managed to endure over the past twenty years.  There is much to ponder in these stories. (Feb 27)"
Left Neglected
Left Neglected
"Genova describes the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury from the perspective of the patient. Too late to make a difference in my mother's life, but maybe it will make a difference in your life or mine. (4/26)"
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)
"A Halsey Book Club assignment that I've been meaning to read since 2001. The plot is interesting but put me to sleep at regular intervals. Still, if I ever meet a young boy who doesn't like books, I'll hand him this one. (2/13)"
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel
"NOT RANKED:  Re-read for book club.  The Japanese ladies say this is one of the best books they've read in the past ten years. (2/10)"