Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA: The Best Books of 2011 ... So Far

I don't do well with the notion of choosing a "best book so far of the year," which just so happens to be the Armchair BEA prompt of the day. It isn't any easier when the year is "only" five months old.  Not to mention, I've only read 26 books this year, so it shouldn't be too hard to narrow it down to a few favorites thus far. 

In no particular order (the excerpts below each link are from my review, which the link takes you to), here are 8 of my favorite reads this year:

You wouldn't expect a book about food waste to be all that interesting, much less utterly fascinating, would you?  Completely understandable.  And you would be wrong.  Let me tell you this: Jonathan Bloom has written one hell of an eye-opening and life-changing book.  American Wasteland will be one of my favorite non-fiction reads of the year. 

You know what it is like to have a book capture your heart and soul so much that you can't bear to return it to the library, right?  You HAVE to OWN it. You have to have it near you at all times, because you never know when you are going to want to - make that, need to - re-read it. There are, quite simply, some books that you need to own. And Let the Great World Spin, my lovelies, is absolutely one such book.

This book. This is the type of book that you want to buy a hundred copies of and give to everyone you know who hasn't read it yet. It is that good, that powerful, that affecting. This is a book that - as one of my blog commenters said - completely engulfs you, that you are compelled to read in practically one sitting. It took me three, but one was spent reading almost 200 pages straight and I vowed not to go to bed until I knew what happened. You who have read Room (which is probably 99.9% of you reading this post) can probably guess what part of the book that I speak of.

The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff
(no review yet ... coming soon)

The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano

(No review yet of this one either ... and I may not get to review this one since its been awhile since I read it.  But it was one of my favorites.  I loved it.)

Everybody Loves Somebody, by Joanna Scott
(This is a wonderful collection of short stories, for which I haven't posted a review yet. It's written, though.)

This is a novel reminiscent a bit of The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which is one of my all-time favorite books. I love the concept and the innovation of the author as author, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson provides the reader with that same delight. I honestly do not know if I can do this book justice with this review, but I will try. Quite simply, this is a spectacular novel. Jerome Charyn makes Emily Dickinson so intriguing, capturing her voice and her feisty spirit in such a way that you can't help but want to keep reading and learning more.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle was written in 1962, but in my opinion, was so ahead of its time because we see this type of behavior so often - the chiding of the perceived outcasts among us, the willingness to go along with the pack.  And ultimately, it is this behavior - and this knowledge that it is still so prevalent today - that left me a bit sad but even more in awe of Shirley Jackson's immeasurable talent of capturing a mood and placing her reader right in the maelstrom of its delicious suspense. 

This has been a year of quality reading, rather than quantity ... which is fine with me.  Can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds (as well as visiting your blogs to discover your favorites)!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Marce said...

I am going to read live in the Castle for halloween this year, great list.

My post is here.


K A B L O O E Y said...

My first thought was Room... but since it's the only one on your list I've read, I've got a load of Kindling to do.

Elizabeth said...

I think we're twins. With the exception of one book, that I haven't read!, I'm in complete agreement with you on all of these choices.

Melissa said...

Oh, THANK YOU for all the book recommendations! ROOM is the only one I have that I have not yet read, and now I'm more curious than ever. I'll get to that one once I finish the series I just started. Great choices!