Top 10 Books I Read in 2011

It’s that time of year when the favorites lists start appearing! Instead of splitting my 2011 reads up by genre, I thought I’d pick favorites in each medium: print and audio. I chose a top ten plus a runner-up for each type. I’ll share my print list today. Stop back tomorrow to see which audiobooks I picked!

Runner-up: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I read this one for a recent book group meeting after hearing about it for years. I started out skeptical of a novel about Jesuits and life on other planets but ended up finding it quite beautiful.

Erin Reads: Best 2011 Books (#6-10)

#10: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

I’d eagerly awaited Hillary Jordan’s next novel from the moment I finished her first book, Mudbound, a few years ago. This slightly futuristic dystopian did not disappoint and even inspired me to pick up Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, on which the former draws.

#9: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Who knows how I managed to make it this far in life without learning the plot of Jane Eyre? I’m glad I didn’t. I read Bronte’s classic for the first time this year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

#8: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

My first exposure to Kingsolver’s fiction, The Poisonwood Bible blew me away with its distinct narrative voices telling different sides of a story about a missionary family in Africa. It’s the first of several Reading Buddies picks on my top 10 list.

#7: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Another Reading Buddies pick! When reading Cutting for Stone, I kept forgetting I was reading a novel, caught up in the story of twin boys growing up in Ethiopia told within its pages.

#6: The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer

This quirkily clever debut novel delighted me to no end. But then, what else would you expect from a story about a corporate drone turned decorative hermit?

Erin Reads: Best 2011 Books (#1-5)

#5: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I had been meaning to read this novel for years and am so glad Reading Buddies got me to finally pick it up. A beautiful and heartbreaking and touching book that skillfully handles the tragedy of 9/11 through the eyes of an extraordinary child.

#4: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This charming fictional diary of an aspiring young writer captured my heart from its first pages and held me rapt throughout. It was one of the first classics I can say I really loved.

#3: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I wouldn’t have tackled this beloved mystery without the push of Reading Buddies, but I’m so glad I did. Another classic I ended up loving, and a new author for me to explore!

#2: The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

My introduction to Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men both entertained me and made me think. I love the way Ness creates such complex and multifaceted characters, erasing the lines between good and evil and keeping readers on their toes.

#1: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I would have to say this book club selection is my current favorite book. I adored its clever construction and wide variety of styles and voices. It’s one I know I’ll read again, and Mitchell is an author I very much look forward to revisiting!

Your Turn!

What were some of your favorite 2011 reads?

Join the Conversation


  1. Jane Eyre is top on my list too! And a lot of your others are books that I have decided to read in the new year as well. I can’t wait to see what I think of Cloud Atlas. I have heard great things about it for years now…

    Great list here today!

  2. 10. Yup
    9. Yup
    8. Aaaaaaaaagh!
    7. Yup
    6. Never heard of it
    5. On my 2012 list
    4. Yup
    3. Meh
    2. Poo
    1. Also on my 2012 list

    You’ve got some great books on there! And I’m happy about #5 and #1, since they’re part of my TBR Pile Challenge.

  3. I’m excited that Jane Eyre made your cut! And I can’t wait to read The Woman in White — in great part because of your reaction this year. 🙂

    Happy New Year, Erin!

  4. Thanks very much, Erin, for this and for all the support you gave The Bee-Loud Glade this year. I really appreciate it (and I’m so glad we got a chance to meet in person!).

  5. I love The Knife of Never Letting Go – still need to read the rest. And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an all time favorite (am curious what I’ll think of the movie). At this time of year I always feel pressure to read all the current year releases on my TBR so that my best of list can include them (if I love ’em that is). Am doubtful I’ll get to them all though (When She Woke included). Happy New Year!

  6. What a diverse list! I am publishing mine later tonight. I saw a preview for the movie version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and it looked interesting … though Oskar wasn’t quite as I imagined him.

  7. I’m loving seeing all these great lists! I’m not familiar with all the books in your list, but I do love Jane Eyre and will definitely be reading The Woman in White next fall.

  8. The Poisonwood Bible made it into my top ten 2011 list too! I really enjoyed it! Jane Eyre…I love that book!…I’m planning a re-read of it this year if I have the time. 😀

  9. What a fantastic list! I have read and loved nearly all of these. The only exceptions are the Chaos Walking series (didn’t finish first book) and I Capture the Castle which is very high on my TBR. You have very good taste in books!

  10. I’m not sure how I missed talk of The Bee-Loud Glade earlier this year, but I’ve added it to my TBR list now for sure; those themes are on my list of faves, so I’m definitely intrigued.

    Am not sure if you already listen, but the BBC World Book Club had a terrific interview with Mitchell about Cloud Atlas (and spoiler-free, which was important to me because I’ve had it on my TBR shelf since it was published, so anyone else who is curious, but spoiler-phobic could still enjoy it, too); it made me not only want to read some of his books but made me to want to read every single word he writes. I love that feeling!

    Congrats on a great reading year!

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