Best Books of the Year: Top 10 of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, our friends at Books & Books in Westhampton Beach share their picks for Top Books of the Year. Here’s to happy reading in the Hamptons for 2012!

FICTION

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

One of our most revered contemporary writers presents us with a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s. But this novel is so much more: a love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, and ultimately, a reimagining of the world. 1Q84 is a tremendous feat of imagination. Knopf, October, 2011; $30.50

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Only Jeffrey Eugenides, Pulitzer-prize winning author of Middlesex, could revive the motivating energies of “The Novel” that are alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce. Witty, fresh, and brilliantly imagined. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, October, 2011; $28.00

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. This book is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley. Ballantine Books, February, 2011; $25.00

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The best novels transport you to another time and place, and this book does just that. Set during the martini-filled world of 1930s New York City, Rules of Civility follows three friends from their chance meeting at a jazz club through a year of enlightening and occasionally tragic adventures. Towles’ writing is evocative of Fitzgerald at his best. Viking, July, 2011; $26.95

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This unique tale revolves around  mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage and a strange collection of very curious photographs. This spine-tingling fantasy is illustrated with haunting vintage photography that will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. Quirk Books, June, 2011; $17.99

NONFICTION

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Nicholas and Alexandra, Robert K. Massie, returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable and powerful women in history. Massie has a rare genius for finding and expressing the human drama in extraordinary lives. Random House, November, 2011; $35.00

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson 

Erik Larson (Devil in the White City) delivers engrossing reads every time, and In the Garden of Beasts is no exception. Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign is brought vividly to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, this is a dazzling work of history that reads like fiction.  The book recently was optioned for film by Tom Hanks. Crown, May, 2011; $26.00

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton 

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter is an unflinching and lyrical memoir told with uncommon honesty, grit, and humor. Random House, March, 2011; $26.00

Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History by Robert Hughes

From Robert Hughes, one of the greatest art and cultural critics of our time, comes a sprawling, comprehensive, and deeply personal history of Rome—as city, empire, and, crucially, as an origin of Western art and civilization. Histories of Rome are a dime a dozen, but there is only one Robert Hughes. Knopf, November, 2011; $35.00

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

From one of our most powerful prose writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old. Knopf, November, 2011; $25.00

You can find the Top 10 Books of 2011 and more at Books & Books, 130 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, New York. For more information, call 631.998.3260.

Check out Books & Books list of Best Gift Books for 2011

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