Gaskella’s Books of the Year

It’s that time of year again, and I thought I’d highlight my top reads chosen from the 90 I’ve managed to read, so they’re not necessarily published this year.

All the books I’ve chosen are ones I gave 9 or more out of ten to; I tend to be generous in my scoring, having given eleven 10/10s this year – or have I been lucky in my reading choices?

The links go to my reviews.  Do let me know what you think and tell me about your best reads of 2011 …

  • Best debut novelThe Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – A bittersweet comedy that approaches art.
  • Darkest novel Comes the night by Hollis Hampton-Jones – A novel of twins set in the druggy world of the Paris fashion shows.
  • Most heart-warming novel Like Bees to Honey by Carole Smailes – A innovative novel chock full of Meditteranean sunshine.
  • Best YA novelThe Double shadow by Sally Gardner. Her first book for older teens and upwards is brilliant and complex.
  • Best modern classic in the makingRules of Civility by Amor Towles. Reminiscent of F Scott Fitzgerald, this great read might have the longevity to make it.
  • Best novel published before I was bornThe Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sheriff. A post-war dystopia from Persephone.
  • Best re-readLord of the Flies by William Golding. Didn’t affect me much as a teen, but decades later, I know it could happen.
  • Best crime/thrillerDirty Snow by Georges Simenon. Move over Maigret for some dark and nihilistic noir.
  • Most fun readRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. I’ll be reviewing this soon, but if you’re a Londoner and like funny books, this could be one for you.
  • Best cover A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in by Magnus Mills. Gorgeous cover, and a close contender for my book of the year.

… and finally, my Book of the Year 2011 …

 The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt. This novel resonated with so many of my cultural icons – The Blues Brothers, the Coen Brothers, TV Westerns and more, that I couldn’t help but love it.

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17 thoughts on “Gaskella’s Books of the Year

  1. Interesting choices, Annabel. I haven’t read any of them but I’ve got Rivers of London, the Sisters Brothers and Rules of Civility on my wishlist!

    • Thanks Sakura. I just finished Rivers of London and it just brims with wit and a rather different kind of magic… Rules of Civility has grown on me since I read it, and I loved it then. The Sisters Brothers is the book I’ve championed all year, so had to end up my favourite. I hope you do enjoy them, if you get to read them.

  2. I have only read The Sisters Brothers and Rivers of London but I very much enjoyed them both and am hoping that Ben Aaronovich’s follow up book will turn up at the library soon otherwise I might have to buy it!I did like the humour
    I requested Rules of Civility from the library months ago and am still waiting – at this rate it is going to be out in paperback before I get it – but I have Like Bees to Honey in my reading pile and the Sally Gardiner book will be in Junior daughter’s Christmas stocking as I hope it will be a good antidote to mock-A-Level panic (and of course so that I can borrow it too!)
    She has just read Midwinterblood (which she got for her birthday) so hopefully I can borrow that too – not that I haven’t got far too many things to read anyway!
    Some excellent other titles to look out for too! Looks like you have had a vintage reading year so far! Did you read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

    • Liz, Ann Patchett is one of those authors I’ve not read – yet! I have Bel Canto in the TBR so will start there I think. I got Moon over Soho the other week, and can’t wait to read that, fingers crossed it lives up to Rivers of London.

  3. Interesting that you chose “A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in” as the best cover. The first time I saw it reviewed, in a another blog I follow, I commented “The cover alone would make me buy it”. 🙂

    • I saw your comment Alex. I’d read anything by Mills, but that cover does call out to you doesn’t it! The cover of the Sisters Brothers came close though too for best cover.

  4. I have only read The Sisters Brothers (which I enjoyed) and Rules of Civility (in which I saw the quality, but found a bit slow). I’m going to have to read The Fang Family now! Rivers of London is also capturing my attention.

    • Jackie, I must admit your post on the lack of ‘classic’ books this year got me re-thinking the Amor Towles (which has grown on me with time since I read it). ‘ Rivers of London’ is such immediate fun in comparison, especially as I know the West End and lots of the areas in the book really well and that added a little something I think. ‘The Family Fang’ could be construed as performance art masquerading as a novel – fantastic too. Hope you enjoy these two should you read them.

    • Thanks Simon. My inner librarian always like to invent some categories to pick them under, to ensure I get some variety in! The Mills is awesome, but I know you’re not completely converted on him 🙂

  5. I am glad to hear that Rules of Civility has the makings of a modern day classic…I have that one on my TBR pile, and will now move it up 🙂
    I noticed that one of your commenters mentioned Ann Patchett. I had not read her before, and I recently finished State of Wonder — which will be on my top five fiction reads of the year.

    • Bookgirl – Just read your review of State of Wonder – I will have to read it! But having her Orange prize-winning Bel Canto on the shelf, I’ll wait for the paperback of the new one. Although Rules of Civility has it’s slow moments, it has grown on me since reading, and I’d recommend it.

  6. Am rather surprised how few of those I’ve read. Lord of the Flies of course, and A Cruel Bird (which I rather panned in my review!). An interesting list – I shall have to produce one of my own I suppose – thanks for the nudge – I like your categories

    • Thanks Tom – I do aim for variety in my annual picks. I shall have to pop over and read your review of Cruel Bird – must have missed it unless it’s very recent. I’m dying to see why you didn’t like it now!

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