The five books below — three novels, a memoir and a nonfiction narrative — top my list of keepers published in 2011. While it’s no surprise that Julian Barnes and Joan Didion produced books to have and to hold onto, it’s the serendipitous finds like Ali Smith’s fifth novel, Chad Harbach’s first, and Donovan Hohn’s Melvillean quest for rubber duckies lost at sea that bring special pleasure. What they have in common is that I’ve continued to think about all of them long after turning the last page.
Another list, from Heller McAlpin via NPR, of 2011’s best books:
- The Sense of an Ending
- There But for The
- Blue Nights
- The Art of Fielding
But wait, there’s more:
I would be remiss not to mention two other novels that continue to enthrall me: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Yannick Murphy’s The Call. Patchett’s transportive Amazon adventure, thick with allusions to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and lost paradises and resurrections, is bound to launch hundreds of book group discussions about the medical ethics of extending fertility indefinitely. Murphy’s charming novel takes the form of a series of wry bulletins from a veterinarian in rural Vermont. Packed with quirky information about colicky horses and spitting alpacas, it also offers a winning portrait of harried family life, choler and all.