Best Books Read in 2011 (Repost from LibraryThing)
1. Adios, Happy Homeland! by Ana Menéndez
2. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
3. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
4. Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality by Dr. Helen Scales
5. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Of all the books I read last year, these are the ones that continue to resonate with me, the ones that I still think about and feel like I've only just closed the back cover on.
Two are what you might call literary fiction, books that play with narrative and language. Two are non-fiction that really influenced how I view the world and have made me more aware of things around me. And finally there is the wordless graphic novel that does all of the above. It was difficult to order the last four (the Menéndez was easily my favorite book all year), and there were a few other contenders for books that I really love, but they just didn't have the staying power of these five.
Also: if there are any books in my list of Top 5 that I think you should read, they are Nothing to Envy and The Arrival. Maaaaaybe Poseidon's Steed, but it's not as much of a Y U NO READ IT RITE NAO sort of thing. I think Adios, Happy Homeland! and Swamplandia! have a more limited audience of who would enjoy them and everything. They're really really good (obv) but because of the way they play with language and are magial realism (and not-so-realism), I know they're not everyone's cuppa. I do adore them, though.