Archive for January 4th, 2012|Daily archive page

Best Books of 2011

(Cross-posted from the WriteClub blog)

I have talked before about how much I like Goodreads. Not only is it a good platform for writers to promote their books, it’s also a good way of keeping track of all the books you read. This time last year, I set myself a challenge to read 50 books in a year. The challenge only works, of course, if you are diligent about logging every book you read on Goodreads. This is not something I have a problem with – I am quite shameless about broadcasting my reading tastes to the world. Some folks, I suspect, will only log on Goodreads the books they want the world to know they’re reading, but that’s an entirely different story.

In any case, I have no shame and I am somewhat anally retentive about keeping track of my reading habits, so I find Goodreads rather handy. I read 55 books in 2011, so I exceeded my reading goal.

Because you can also rate books on Goodreads, it’s fairly easy to pick out which ones you thought were the best. So I am presenting, in this post, my Top 5 Books of 2011. I will add a qualifier here, and say that these are from the perspective of books I read, not books that were published, in 2011. Some of them I have reviewed on Goodreads. Rather than repeat myself here, if this applies I have included the link in the title.

SISTER – Rosamund Lupton. A beautifully-written book about the grief of an older sister, trying to find the killer of her younger sister. Not exactly a cheerful read, but well worth a look if you’re interested in the dynamics of family relationships.

NOW YOU SEE ME – SJ Bolton. This is a book I had to review for SHOTS, and it had me hooked. A gripping and genuinely spooky crime thriller that offers an interesting slant on the Jack the Ripper legend.

HEARTSTONE – C J Sansom. The quality of the writing in this series of historical crime novels blows everyone else out the water. Sansom’s protagonist, hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, investigates murders against the backdrop of Henry VIII’s court. In this book Henry’s wife is Catherine Parr, which possibly means, sadly, there won’t be too many more in the series, unless Sansom plans to carry Shardlake through the aftermath of Henry’s reign.

CHANGES – Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden, the only wizard in Chicago, inhabits a contemporary alternative world in which magic, vampires and faeries exist, with most humans being oblivious to this fact. Harry, a chivalrous and flawed character, can never resist coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress, and it is the voice of his character – brave; wise-cracking; resourceful – that make this such a fabulous series. Poor Harry has a hard time in this novel, and this is only one to read when you’ve already got the sequel in your TBR pile, because it ends on a cliff hanger.

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE – Shirley Jackson. I’ve wanted to read this since I saw the film adaptation (the original 1963 version – not the 1990s remake). It’s classic gothic horror at its finest. Four people gather in a haunted house, as part of an experiment to study psychic phenonema. They all bring their own psychological baggage with them, and the way they interact with each other is as much part of the atmosphere as the ghostly goings on.

So there we have my Top 5 reads of 2011, and happily it represents a cross-section of the genres I read in.

With a degree of overconfidence, I have set myself a new target for 2012 – to read 60 books. It remains to be seen if I will succeed, but my TBR pile is big enough to give me plenty to be getting on with in the foreseeable future.