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January 2012
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Best Books of 2011

on January 1st, 2012 by Shannon

Just to clarify, these are the best books I read last year, not the best books to come out in 2011. 

10. At Home on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball. The second in the wonderful Ladybug Farm series. If you haven’t read them yet, I encourage you to pick them up. I bought myself the entire series for Christmas. I love it when I get exactly what I wanted!

9. River House by Sarahlee Lawrence. Fabulous memoir. It’s about rafting and house-building – hence the title – but it’s also about passion and commitment and family and what makes a place a home.

8. The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter. I loved everything about this – the characters, the setting, the surprise ending that I didn’t see coming. Bonus – my kids loved it, too.

7. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White / Holes by Louis Sachar. These were both re-reads, but just as amazing as when I first read them, so I’m calling it a tie. Holes remains one of my all-time favorite books. It is both entertainment and art, and every time I read it I am grateful that books like this exist. As for Charlotte’s Web, I read this aloud to my kids this year, and fell in love all over again. In fact, I strive to be more like Charlotte. “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” (White, 1952, p. 184) What else is there to say?
6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. It took me a while to get around to Dame Agatha, and I’m sorry I waited so long. This one is particularly good, the kind of story that makes you want to turn around and start over just to make sure you got everything. The twist ending rivals anything being done in the genre today,  some 80 years later. A must read for mystery fans.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey. I don’t need to tell you that Fey is brilliant and hilarious. But if you haven’t read the book yet, I do need to tell you that the description of her first pelvic exam may be the funniest thing you’ll ever read. I laughed until I cried.

4. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. The amnesia thing may be overdone in fiction, but this premise – Alice blacks out at the gym and wakes up thinking she is ten years younger – is so well done that I couldn’t put the book down. I also couldn’t stop wondering what I’d do in Alice’s shoes, which is in no small part because of the brilliantly written characters.

3. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward. A mystery in which the authors- who also happen to be exes – write every other chapter. Their email correspondence, which appears between chapters, details the increasing antagonism between them, and only adds to the hilarity. A brilliant book by one of my favorite authors.

2. A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball. Number one in the series, and one I’ve read twice already this year. Ball’s writing makes me long to crawl inside the pages and live there, spending my evenings on the porch sipping wine and making friends with three fabulous and independent women. I loved these books so much I keep buying them for my friends and family.  I may have already paid for Ball’s next vacation. I hope when she gets back she writes another Ladybug Farm book :)

1.The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I’m not sure what took me so long to read this. I imagine I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but that was a needless worry. It was everything I’d hoped and more. The characters were so real, they were like friends that I still miss.

So, there it is. My best and brightest of 2011.

Stats -

Out of 108 books I read, these 11 scored a perfect 5.  In comparison, I didn’t give out any 1′s, though I did put down several books. If I don’t finish, I don’t score it.  And only three received a two-star rating. I suppose those would be counted as the worst books I read this year, but I won’t be publishing that list here. This one is all about the LOVE.

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