Meagan's Favorite Reads of 2011

2011 saw a lot of wonderful books published. Whether they made me laugh, cry, or look under the bed for monsters, here are some of my favorites.


Bossypants
by Tina Fey 

What can be said that hasn't already been said? Simply put, Tina Fey always makes me laugh. She's smart, strong, and her writing is sharp. Her commentary on the difference between male and female comedy writers will have you gasping for breath (and for 30 Rock fans, will demonstrate that one particular episode was nothing but the truth.) As both a comedian and a role model for young women, Fey hits it out of the park. She never apologizes for her success, shows how a person can balance a heavy workload with a family, and keeps the jokes coming. As one would expect from a fomer head writer at Saturday Night Live, the writing is tight and sharp. The audiobook is narrated by Fey, which makes it even funnier.

 Sister by Rosamund Lupton

After Beatrice's younger sister Tess is found dead, Beatrice is convinced it is murder. After flying to London from her New York home, she tries to understand the little sister she thought she knew. As she does so, she questions not only the official police story of Tess' death, but her own life, her family relationships, and how she can make it up to Tess for not being there. She tries to track down the mysterious circumstances surrounding the last few weeks of Tess' life. As she learns more and gets more involved in the investigation, you'll be sucked in. An unexpected ending will shock and amaze you. The genius of this book? The structure. After finishing this book I felt winded, and then immediately opened it back up and re-read the last 20 pages or so. This one is a true stunner. 

 Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Are you in your mid 20s to early 30s? Do you and your girlfriends struggle with jobs, friends, guys, and figuring out just what kind of "grown up" you are becoming? Well, this book convinces me that Jennifer Close installed secret cameras in my apartment, hacked my phone, and stole my email password. Yikes. Some of these stories hit a little too close to home for any young woman coming of age today, but it only shows that Close has an incredible talent for capturing the voice of the Millenial generation. Read this one with your oldest girlfriends, a bottle of wine, and then discuss.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo 

Scandinavian noir is all the rage, but this book proves that it is more than just a Dragon Tattoo coat-tail copycat. This book is creepy and suspenseful. Each year at the first snowfall, a mysterious murder takes place. Peaceful Norway can't believe it has a serial killer, but investigator Harry Hole is convinced. As he tries to investigate the latest murder and connect the cases, he must deal with a new partner, a suspicious boss, and an evasive killer. In light of the recent Norwegian tragedy, this examination of evil in the heart of a mostly peaceful society is even more relevant and interesting. While part of a series featuring Harry Hole, it is not necessary to read the others before this. I raced through it. You'll never look at the first snowfall the same way again. 

 

 Bent Road by Lori Roy

After race riots break out in Detroit, a family moves back to Kansas and the family farm. Once there, they are reminded of their difficult past, including the death of a sister and another's abusive marriage. When a local girl goes missing, all of this comes to the forefront. This book seems like a simple "whodunit" on paper, but it encompasses grief, religion, small town life, family obligation, and the simple but so important process of growing up, fitting in, and finding yourself. This book took awhile to get going, but then it stuck with me. Highly recommended for those who like mysteries but also enjoy literary fiction.

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg

I don't like seafood that much, but I was still fascinated by this story about fish, the fishing industry, and environmentalists. Tracing four of the most eaten and valuable fish in the world--salmon, cod, sea bass and tuna--Greenberg shows us how the oceans are so complex that the fate of any one fish can drastically change its makeup. Each section follows the life of the fish, its history as food, and how people have fished in the past, present and future. While it would have been interesting to learn about lake fish, like those we eat here in Wisconsin, it was still a very fascinating read and stresses the importance--and difficulty-- of eating "sustainable" seafood. This is non-fiction with heart and soul. Paul Greenberg is a great storyteller and makes things as dry as fish food interesting and vital. You'll be hooked. (Pun intended.) 

 There were so many great books published in 2011, and I spent a lot of time devouring them. It is always hard to pick just a handful as the "best of." What were your favorites of 2011? Did you read any of the titles I chose? What did you think? I hope you all had a year full of good books. May 2012 bring more pleasant reading and happiness!

 

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