Best Books of 2011


December 14, 2011

The lists of the Best Books of 2011 have been announced, with authors, critics and readers naming the fiction and non-fiction books that stood out for them this year.

Haruki Murakami’s eagerly-anticipated 1Q84 caused a sensation when it was released, with midnight launches around the world and record-breaking sales. It was identified as a favourite by contributors to the lists in the Independent, Kirkus Reviews, the London Review of Books, the New York Times and the Financial Times.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was mentioned in almost every Books of the Year list, including the Guardian, the Times, New Statesman, Evening Standard, Independent & Independent on Sunday, London Review of Books, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times. It was also named at #2 in the Amazon Editors’ Top 50.

Other works of fiction that garnered a mention in the round-ups were Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder; Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf; Out of It by Selma Dabbagh; A Man of Parts, David Lodge’s fictionalised biography of HG Wells; Gillespie and I by Jane Harris; Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton and One Dog and His Boy, the last novel for children by the late Eva Ibbotson.

Several collections of stories also made the Best Books lists, including new writing by DW Wilson who won the BBC Short Story Award earlier this year with his collection Once You Break A Knuckle; classic stories from Alan Garner, brought together in the new Collected Folk Tales and a collection of new and old writing by Pulitzer-prize winning American author Steven Millhauser, We Others.

In the non-fiction stakes, two biographies have been nominated several times; Susie Harries’s Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life has been called ‘a masterpiece of the biographical genre’ and was chosen by critics in the Guardian, New Statesman, Independent, Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, and the London Review of Books.

Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography topped best-seller lists all over the world when it was released and appeared in the selections of the Times, Financial Times, Independent, Amazon, and Sunday Times. It also came second in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Non-fiction books of the Year.

Other biographical works that appeared in the Best Books lists were No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone by biographer Tom Bower; the memoirs of Earl Ferrers, Whatever Next?; I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy and the much-anticipated You Can’t Say That, the autobiography of Ken Livingstone.

A number of non-fiction books on the state of the global economy have also been nominated as important works in politically turbulent times, including That Used To Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum; The Leaderless Revolution by Carne Ross and Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson. More lighthearted non-fiction books that the critics identified as highlights of the year included works on Twitter (How to Leave Twitter by Grace Dent), football (The Football Men by Simon Kuper) and butterflies (The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search Of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham.)

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Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum Thomas L. Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum
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Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life Susie Harries
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Jane Harris Jane Harris
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