Novel Insights’ Top 12 Books – 2011

I am savouring my last day off work today and feeling a little bit smug to be sat indoors out of the rain with nothing more taxing to do than mull over my favourite books of the past year. Actually, I say it’s not taxing but I started by trying to pick five books, then changed it to ten, and then bumped it up to twelve – whoops! Well that is one for every month – a perfectly good excuse in my opinion. Here they are:

How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

5 stars 5/5

“…challenges all the stupid things that women are told (and tell themselves) with a big bucketful of humour…” Read full review.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

5 stars 5/5

“…an important book and one that I think is up there with some of the best dystopian novels.” Read full review.

Never Let Me Go

In Love & Trouble, by Alice Walker

5 stars 5/5

“…each time I picked up Alice Walker’s collection of short stories, I felt as if time was suspended and I was transported completely to heat of the Southern America… The richness and vitality of Walker’s writing makes this book an utter pleasure to read.” Read full review.

Through the Wall, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

5 stars 5/5

“The stories sound barmy, and there is a heavy dose of the surreal, but at their heart Petrushevskaya’s tales  are real human experiences of grief, love and loss.” Read full review.

Through the Wall, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Purls of Wisdom, by Jenny Lord

5 stars 5/5

“…a book that I know I will refer to time and time again. I love the informal writing style because it feels just as if a friend is teaching you…” (AKA the book to blame for my knitting obsession in 2011!) Read full review.

Purls of Wisdom: The Book of Knitting

Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt

4.5 stars4.5/5

“I struggle to think of many other books that convey what is a very serious message with so much originality and seemingly so effortlessly.” Read full review.

Mary Anne, by Daphne du Maurier

4.5 stars4.5/5

“…a book, packed with with witty lines, and a richly described period setting which creates the backdrop for the story of a fascinating protagonist based on du Maurier’s own great-great-grandmother.” Read full review.

The Mermaids Singing, by Val McDermid

4.5 stars4.5/5

“I think that I might have found a new favourite crime writer to add to my list!” Read full review.

The Mermaids Singing

A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis

4 stars4/5

“Of course, this is a sad book to read, but also so beautifully and eloquently written… In an odd way, I believe that this little book could be comforting at a time of loss, if only because of how openly the author shares his experience.” Read full review.

Fateless, by Imre Kertész

4 stars4/5

“… a novel that will stay with me, because it is unique in the way that it addresses the experience of concentration camps. The writing is deceptively simple, and peppered with imaginative ideas…” Read full review.

Fateless, by Imre Kertesz

Journey by Moonlight, by Antal Szerb

4 stars4/5

“…has the qualities that I associate with a real classic… A rich and many-layered story.” Read full review.

Before I go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson

4.5 stars4.5/5

“…smartly plotted, written compellingly and the premise is well-executed.” Read full review.

Before I go to Sleep

A retrospective look at Novel Insights tells me that in 2011 I read a total of 43 books which is a whole 30% lower than last year’s count of 62. I don’t get too hung up about the number of books that I read because I don’t like to over-organise or analyse the things I do for pleasure and for this reason I don’t really make reading resolutions.

That said, I do think that my reading and blogging can be seen as a bit of a barometer of how I’m feeling. While sometimes I read less because I’ve been occupied with nice, fun stuff (including quite a lot of knitting this year!) I have felt quite busy over the past few months and it is one of my resolutions to find a better balance between work and my leisure time.

Well that’s my little bit of naval-gazing over and done with! How was your 2011? Do you have any reading resolutions? What books really stood out for you this year?

12 responses to “Novel Insights’ Top 12 Books – 2011

  1. I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of Petrushevskaya ever since I read your review as it looks v interesting. I gave my sister a copy of Purls of Wisdom which made her very happy too:)

    • I really am chuffed to hear that you spread the knitting love with Purls of Wisdom :) The Petrushevskaya is a shortie so a good one to squeeze in, and I would lend you my copy but I have stashed it away somewhere I’m not sure where… during my new year tidying!!

  2. The Mermaids Singing is one I am excited to read this year, I hear she is an amazing crime writer, I look forward to it.

    • I hope you enjoy reading her books. They are very dark I warn you but I guess that comes with the territory…!

  3. Some interesting choices, Polly.
    I was given a copy of How to be a Woman for Christmas and can’t wait to read it! :-)

    • Oh brilliant. I hope you like it. She’s pretty opinionated but I could just not help giggling away at the start of the book :)

  4. great choices polly many thanks for sharing them ,all the best stu

  5. I chose Before I Go To Sleep as my best fiction audiobook of 2011: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/12/30/year-of-reading-2011/

  6. What a fantastic list of books! I loved Never Let Me Go and plan to read Before I Go to Sleep in the next few weeks. I think I’ll try to read How to be a Woman soon too. Have a wonderful 2012!

  7. Dear Ludmilla,

    I am trying to make contact with you to show you my paintings on http://www.artvitae.com (martina mcateer) and also to show you work I am doing based on your wonderful writings. My email is mcateerie@yahoo.co.uk. I am also a published poet and mother of two young children who also love your work. God bless, Martina McAteer

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