Around Town's Favorite Books of 2011

Long winter nights are the perfect time to curl up with a good book (or a Kindle). Here are some suggestions from Around Town Laura.


As you may have guessed from my , I love to read.

But just reading a book isn't enough for me.

To capture it for all time (because my memory is a faulty thing), I record every book I read in a book journal.

My book journal includes a brief summary— really brief, I try to do it in one sentence— my favorite quotes and a grade.

Yes, you read that right. The OCD Gemini in me dictates a letter grade for every book.

So as the year winds down, I'm sharing with you grade A books only. 

These books did not necessarily come out in 2011, but that's when I read them.


Grade A books of 2011

  1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife and their time in Paris as he wrote The Sun Also Rises. It was so good I wish McLain would write a book about each of the other four wives. "Happiness is so awfully complicated, but freedom isn't. You're either tied down or you're not."
  2. One Day by David Nicholls: A book that follows two people for 20 years. The twist, it's just one day, July 15, of each year. It sounds impossible, but it works. "She shouldn't speak her thoughts; nothing good ever came of speaking your thoughts."
  3. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory: I confess, I love English history and Gregory is one of the best storytellers to capture it. This is first of a trilogy about the Wars of Roses. (The second book only got a B+) This one is told by Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV, mother of the Princes in the Tower. "The sons of York will destroy each other. They are a house which has to have blood, and they will shed their own if they have no other enemy. The house of York will fall for they will eat up themselves."
  4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: It was about time I sat down with this classic and it did not disappoint. It is the true story of a family murdered and their killers. "Maybe we're not human. I'm human enough to feel sorry for myself. But that's all."
  5. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: The dog of a race car driver tells his family's story. Perhaps it's because I'm a new dog owner, but Enzo just may be my favorite narrator of the year. "Denny always picked up my leavings in a bag. It's part of what people do as penance for their need to keep dogs under such strict supervision."
  6. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis: My sister-in-law gave me this book years ago and it's one I like to reread, usually during flu season. In the future historians time travel into the past to study it. This unfortunate historian miscalculates and ends up in the middle of the Black Plague. "No one sent it. It's a disease. It's no one's fault. God would help us if he could, but He.... He cannot come."
  7. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Yes, I gobbled up this young adult series like it was candy and enjoyed every page. In dystopian American, young boys and girls are forced to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. "But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction."
  8. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: I'm not much of a mystery reader, unless it's by Morton. Her The House at Riverton is another one of my favorites. In Garden a very young girl is abandoned on a ship headed to Australia in 1913. This book is her story, in all its twisted and turned glory. "Cassandra always hid when she read, tough she never quite knew why. It was a if she couldn't shake the guilty suspicion that she was being lazy."

The holiday rush is behind us and winter stretches ahead. And so dear readers, I hope you too will find a perfect hiding spot and enjoy some lazy reading. 

Barb L January 04, 2012 at 05:47 AM
Thank you for the list! I'm going to look into getting the books on it that I haven't read. They sound good!


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