This week BTT asks: "What were your favorite books of 2011?" Predictable question, of course, and coming at just the right time because I was getting ready to do a post about my favorites and my reading year in general.
And, in general, my reading year sucked. Not exactly the books I read, although there were a number of clunkers amongst them. But I went through several slumps, didn't read nearly as many books as I'd hoped, and really had a hard time finding books to temp me out of said slumps. And although I did manage to complete the reading for most of the challenges I signed up for in 2011, I posted very few reviews -- so I sort of feel like I was only half successful.
I won't get into excuses or reasons -- I'll just say that real life intruded way too much in 2011. So I'm very happy to get the year behind me and make a fresh start with my reading for 2012.
And 2011 wasn't a total loss when it comes to bookish pursuits. I did find a few really fine reads; in fact, several have entered my list of all-time favorites. Here are my faves (in no particular order):
The Sense of an Ending. Julian Barnes
2011 Man Booker Prize Winner. Wonderful book. One I'd definitely like to read again -- it gives the reader such a lot to think about for such a short work. The seemingly simple story is layered with amazing complexity. Beautifully written, it reminds me a little of Anthony Powell's novels. I've tried other books by Julian Barnes in the past, and never been able to finish any of them; but this has made me want to go back and give those abandoned works another look.
The Seance. John Harwood
I love a good ghost story, and this one is excellent. I was a little reluctant to try it because Harwood's first novel (The Ghost Writer) got such mixed reviews. Glad I didn't let that stop me.
The Killings at Badger's Drift. Caroline Graham
First book in Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby mystery series. I've read a couple of the later novels in the series, and always meant to go back and read this first one. This year the 1st in a Series Challenge finally nudged me into doing it, and I'm very grateful. I've loved all the Barnabys I've read, and this was no exception.
Third Girl, Hallowe'en Party, and Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Agatha Christie
I set myself a little personal challenge this year to read or re-read all the Hercule Poirot novels that feature Poirot's friend, mystery writer Ariadne Oliver. Mrs. Oliver is my favorite Christie character and I've always wished Dame Agatha had seen fit to let her have her own series. Loved all of these -- especially "Mrs. McGinty."
Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life. Martin Meredith
This was an unexpected pleasure -- picked it up at the library, on a whim, and I'm glad I did. Very enjoyable overview of the history of the study of human evolution. Meredith does a fine job of presenting the search for the origins of human life, as well as the stories of the modern-day men and women doing the searching. Just the right mix of science and gossip. Not written for the professional in the field (good, because I'm not one), but still scholarly enough to hold my attention; and exciting enough to keep me turning pages into the wee hours.