The Best of Fiction 2011

I know there are still two weeks left in the month and I may read the most amazing book ever during that time (if so, I’ll put an addendum at the bottom of this post), but barring that, here are those fiction books that I read during 2011 that really stuck with me.  And given the sheer volume that I’ve read this year, to have a novel stick with me is quite the accomplishment!

In no particular order:

The Anne books:  I read Anne of the Island, Chronicles of Avonlea, Anne’s House of Dreams and Anne of Ingleside at the beginning of the year and loved rediscovering these old classics.  L. M. Montgomery was phenomenal for not only writing one of the greatest children’s novels of all time, but also finding a way for her character to grow up.  It was a joy to follow Anne into adulthood and motherhood.

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden:  I hadn’t read this book for years, but it didn’t disappoint on the third (??) reading.  Exquisit writing.  I was transported to another world and long after the book was over, I was still seeing the world through the eyes of the characters.

Three Junes – Julia Glass:  I had never read anything by Glass before and was very encouraged after reading this book.  While the writing was not consistent (some of the parts of the book were better than others), the whole thing was very good and some parts were exceptional.  I was disappointed later in the year when I read The Widower’s Tale, which I didn’t think was as good.

Saint Maybe – Anne Tyler:  This book had been recommended by several people and it lived up to its billing.  For sheer story, it was a good book, but with the added layers of spiritual angst brought it to a whole other level.  What do we need to do to fully repent of our sins?  Can life ever move on from a critical incident?  This book asked hard questions and dealt with them well.

Black Swan Green – David Mitchell:  While not as incredible as The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zout, Black Swan Green was a very good book.  The quality of Mitchell’s writing is so far above most novelists that his books stand out, whatever the subject.

The End of the Affair – Graham Greene:  This book had been on my reading list for ages and I’m glad I read it at a time when I could really savor the writing.  I was even more excited when I heard that Colin Firth will be reading the audible version of it.

State of Wonder – Ann Patchett:  While not the best book of hers I’ve ever read, State of Wonder was really a triumph of writing.  Characters that you live and breath with.  Ethical questions that plague you.  This book should be at the top of the best seller’s list.

I’m currently reading Gilead by Marilyn Robinson, which looks set to join this list.

There are many other ‘good’ books that I read this year.  The Laura Ingalls Wilder books, one of the Nancy Thayer books, some Jane Green and Jane Mansell….  but none of those quite stand up to the quality of the novels listed above.

I hope I find as much great fiction in 2012!


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