2011 Best Books List

2011 Best Books List December 28, 2011

Best to me, of course, not definitively “best,” which is impossible to say.

This was the year I was not going to do a “best of” list.

Not. going. to.

Done and done.

And then The Anchoress challenged me and put her own book list up. Plus she put Brandon Vogt’s 2011 book list link … which further challenged me.

Darn it.

In general I tend to be puzzled by many Catholic’s book lists. So many religious books, so few zombies. Although, I note with approval that Brandon read the Harry Potter series last year. There is hope.

So here we go, top 10 books with descriptions in 10 words or less. Plus a few bonus items at the end, about which I said considerably more than 10 words’ worth!

  1. Mystery of Grace by Charles DeLint
    Urban fantasy about Grace (the person) and grace (of God). (discussion/review at A Good Story is Hard to Find) 
  2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Genesis, Cain, and Abel … in California. (review at A Free Mind; discussion/review at A Good Story is Hard to Find) 
  3. Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
    Little things can make you a saint. (review at A Free Mind) 
  4. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
    Red, white, blue, and zombies. (review at SFFaudio) 
  5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
    Concentration camps and God from an unlikely storyteller. (review at A Free Mind) 
  6. White Cat / Red Glove (The Curse Workers series) by Holly Black
    When a touch can curse, gloves alone can’t protect you (SFFaudio reviews: White Cat / Red Glove) 
  7. Declare by Tim Powers
    WWII, Cold War spies, and the supernatural with Catholic details. (discussion/review at A Good Story is Hard to Find) 
  8. The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre
    What the title says. (review at Happy Catholic) 
  9. Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
    Rattling good adventure in ancient Arabia with djinn and improbable heroes (review at Happy Catholic)
  • Diana Wynne Jones – I never knew how fabulous her books were or how inventive or how different they were from each other. Thank heavens my pal D.J. took it upon herself to lend me carefully selected stories each month. YA fantasy that is a treat for any age to read.
  • Norbert Davis – who wrote the short but memorable series featuring Doan and Carstairs. Doan is a short, chubby man in rumpled clothes who, despite appearances, is “the most dangerous little devil I’ve ever seen, and he’s all the worse because of that half-witted manner of his. You never suspect what he’s up to until it’s too late.” At least that what his boss says. Carstairs is his Great Dane who is one of the most intelligent characters ever included in mysteries. Together they are a duo to reckon with. And the stories are not only interesting but are tinged with humor throughout.
  • Louis L’Amour – I grew up scorning Western stories, even though I did occasionally dip into Zane Grey along the way. I’m not sure what made me sample a few of Louis L’Amour’s short story collections on my Kindle. I was surprised to find his stories compelling and so picked up this collection via Paperback Swap. He has a talent for making you speed to the end of the story even when you’re fairly sure you know what will happen … because you’re only fairly sure and often he flips the story just a bit on you.
Two words. 

Harry Potter.

When the last movie came out, it made me suddenly realize that the Potter books probably were available in audiobook format. Sure enough they were and Jim Dale’s narration was nothing short of inspired. I began at book one and “reread” them all. Surprisingly, I remembered only a few key elements of the last three books and so was able to experience them once again with breathless anticipation.

A truly wonderful experience.

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