It’s that time of year again—time to review all the books I read in 2011 and see which ones still jump out at me as the best of the year. Looking back at my reviews always brings back pleasant memories of the books (and sometimes of what I was doing while reading them), but only a few make me think, “Yeah, I’d like to read that book again someday.” Here are my best books of 2011 (in no particular order):
Best Fiction Books of 2011
The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead—in this thrilling start to a new fantasy trilogy by first-time author Ross Lawhead, who appears to have inherited his father’s gift for storytelling, Daniel and Freya learn of worlds beyond their own and must choose what part they will play in the struggle to come.
The Order of Good Cheer by Bill Gaston—this literary historical fiction takes us back to the time of Samuel de Champlain while also telling the story of modern-day Andrew and showing us that life hasn’t changed very much in the centuries between these two men.
Solitaria by Genni Gunn—this literary novel blends past and present as David listens to his aunt’s memories of Italy between and during the World Wars while trying to sort out the truth of his family history and the mystery of his uncle’s murder.
Best Nonfiction Books of 2011
The Boy by Betty Jane Hegerat—this book could fall into either genre as Hegerat deftly weaves together fact and fiction to dig into the story of Robert Raymond Cook, the last man hanged in Alberta. Her research for the fact of Cook’s case is intertwined with the story of Louise, a stepmom to a teenage boy. (My Best Books list wouldn’t be complete without one of her books on it!)
Unsinkable by Abby Sunderland—this memoir is the teenage sailor’s honest, inspiring look at her attempt to break the world record of being the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks—comparing storytelling to architecture, Larry ends the debate between “pantsers and plotters” by showing how every writer should use a solid structure when writing their story and gives detailed information for writers to apply his structural ideas to their stories.
The Common English Bible—this brand-new translation seeks to put the Bible into modern, everyday language and was a work of collaboration between scholars, translators, and readers from around the world and a variety of denominations. It is available with the Apocrypha as well as online and in a variety of hardcover and softcover styles.
And that finishes my reading for 2011! I won’t admit a bias toward Canadian authors, but I did notice that half of the books on this list are written by Canadians. I’ve got more great reviews coming up in the new year. Feel free to take a look at my top picks for 2010 and 2009.
What were your best books of 2011? What’s on your to-read list for this year?