Sunday Salon: Kicking off 2012 by looking back at 2011

The Sunday
It’s usually both fun and challenging to come up with my annual Books of the Year list, and 2011 was no exception. It might have been easier if I’d read more books that weren’t very good, but that was not the case; the overall level of my reading last year was pretty high. 
Having said that, my year-end picks aren’t necessarily the books that I rated the very highest–they’re the ones that have stuck with me over time and kept me thinking. In the first year I’ve listened to audiobooks, two of them ended up on the list, and it was an especially good year for my nonfiction reading. 
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, please check out 2011 In Review, The Reading (Part 2)–Books of the Year. (Part 1 was the year in book stats, and a list of some of the books I didn’t get around to reading in 2011.)
One of my 2011 Books of the Year was a winner in the 2010 Indie Lit Awards, and another is a nominee in the 2011 Awards! The short lists were just announced. As a judge on the Biography/Memoir panel, I’m excited about reading and discussing the books on our list and choosing our eventual winner, but there are some great titles up in every category, including the two newest, Mystery and Poetry. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations, and here are the contenders. (Panel members will not be posting reviews of the books they’re considering until after the winners are announced in March.)
Biography/ Memoir
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Penguin)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books)
  • I Pray Hardest When Being Shot At by Kyle Garret (Hellgate Press)
  • Little Princes by Conor Grennan (William Morrow)
  • Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (Harper)
  • Well With My Soul by Gregory Allen (ASD Publishing)
  • Swimming to Chicago by David Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)
  • Songs of the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout (Circumspect Press)
  • Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger (Beacon Press)
  • Huntress by Melinda Lo (little brown books for young readers)
  • Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney (Syracuse University Press)
  • Cross Currents by John Shors (Penguin Group: NAL Trade)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group)
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
  • The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene (Penguin Group)
  • Missing Daughter, Shattered Family by Liz Strange (MLR Press)
  • The Cut by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/LIttle, Brown)
  • A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
  • The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
  • Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)
  • Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe (Putnam Adult)
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown)
  • Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper)
  • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku (Doubleday)
  • The Social Animal by David Brooks (Random House)
  • Beyond Scent of Sorrow by Sweta Vikram (Modern History Press)
  • Catalina by Laurie Soriano (Lummox Press)
  • What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman (Lummox Press)
  • Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems by Ramos, Emma Eden (Heavy Hands Ink)
  • Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert (Sibling Rivalry Press)
Speculative Fiction

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick)
  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking)
  • 11/22/1963 by Stephen King (Scribner)
  • Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor Books)
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)
Looks like there are some busy weeks of reading in some people’s futures…but before I get into mine, I’ll be finishing up some review reading for Shelf Awareness and preparing for my next round with the BlogHer Book Club. What are you reading this weekend?

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