Books read in 2011, reviewed

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower: Excellent short stories. Annoying good. And by that I mean, I am annoyed that I didn’t write them.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (Book Club): Fun! Light, but clever and charming in that Brit lit way.

The Wave by Susan Casey: I went into this book without knowing much about Casey other than she’d written The Devil’s Teeth – and I’m glad, because I read the book without the scandal baggage that descended upon me after I’d finished the book and mentioned liking it to people. That said, I liked the book! I learned a lot about waves! Science plus storytelling! Yay! But the glorification of tow-in surfers and the nonstop worship of Laird Hamilton did get to be a little much.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens: The first half of the book, I alternated between feeling like I was slogging and feeling like I needed to rise to the occasion. The second half of the book, the characters had become my friends, as had the language. Highly entertaining satire with heart. Dickens!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: OK, so this author wrote one of my very favorite short stories of all time, I loved the book going in and hated it by the time I finished. I don’t know what to think.

Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr: Enthralling young adult lit!

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen: Defendable escapism.

Night of the Gun by David Carr: Who needs another addiction memoir? That’s what Carr asks – and he makes sure his isn’t just “another” by taking a journalistic approach (he’s currently at the New York Times) and being a hell of a writer.

The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols: A little dense, like your reader, but a good study in what’s so messed up about modern media.

Checker and the Derailleurs by Lionel Shriver (for the millionth time): Oh, god, I love this book.

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro: Smart, precise short stories.

I Just Want My Pants Back by David J. Rosen: Cheesy entertainment. I read it all the way through and felt sort of bad about it. The book equivalent of eating a donut.

History of Love by Nicole Krauss: This book! This book! Lives intertwine, stories unfold, hearts break and mend again, all with an elegance that made me fall in love with love. And this book.

Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi: Taibbi kicks ass. If you don’t read him, you’re missing out.

The Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore (again): An unusual story, nicely told, enjoyable at the surface level and full of meaning beyond. Perfect when you want something easy to get lost in, but well worth the time.

All Other Nights by Dara Horn: This book is dumb. I’m annoyed that people have success writing such dumb books.

So Much for That by Lionel Shriver: This book is smart. Shriver is one of my very favorite authors because she writes so well it’s as if I’m living with her characters while reading. Slightly less misanthropic than most of her previous books. She also eviscerates the American medical/insurance system.

Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson: Sweet, funny, sad, well-done story of a dysfunctional mother and her daughter.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: Brilliant – literature as high art, yet accessible enough to enjoy for the story alone. Worth all the hype.

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