What a year 2011 has been and one way to see the difference is this year’s Top Picks compared to last year’s when it was all me, me, me! Now BA is more about the team effort and to celebrate that, along with the end of the year, Adam, Ashley, Sarah, and myself have put together our highlighted reads of 2011.
But before we get started, on behalf of everyone here at BA, we hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a fun and safe New Year with more great books on the horizon!
BA’s Top Twenty Reads of 2011Click on the titles for our reviews (in the case of one of us not reviewing a title it will instead link up to Goodreads for those reviews) and click on the images to be taken where you can find them if you want your own copy. All links will open up in a new window/tab.
Adam’s Top Five
- The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi – Hilarious space-lawyer opera, political intriguing, great action and more snappy dialogue than is possible to poke a stick at. Most definitely the greatest book I have read all year.
- Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – Gently funny, but also moving on many different levels. A great story, wonderful characters and the birth of a new legend (Limes anyone?).
- Neuromancer by William Gibson – A timeless classic. Every time I read this book, I am amazed at Gibson’s predictive ability and his ability to extract emotion from everyday objects. There is no finer cyberpunk book than this.
- Going Postal by Terry Pratchett – This is Terry Pratchett at his finest. The book is fast, funny and quite accurately paints a picture of working in government occupations. If you only read one Terry Pratchett book, make it this one.
- Ready Player One by Ernst Cline – A wonderful adventure for Gen-X and Gen-Y members. Nostalgia combines well with a gritty, cyberpunky atmosphere in a tale of coming of age, discovering life and overcoming adversity.
Ashley’s Top Five
- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Beautifully written, with thoughtful and intelligent prose, this book is leagues ahead of the typical and mundane paranormal romance. You will be hooked from the first page to the last…all while gaining a better understanding of science and history! The sequel to this novel takes place in 16th century England, during the time of Shakespeare. I can’t wait!
- Under The Dome by Stephen King – This book will keep you thinking long after you finish reading (and at over 1,000 pages you’ll be reading for a while). No one creates such uniquely realistic worlds quite like King. Enclose a small community, force them to survive by rationing and sharing, not knowing if the next day will bring freedom or death, and what do you get? You watch the unlikeliest survive. It’s a must read, especially for horror and suspense fans.
- Stolen by Lucy Christopher – I put off reading this one for a long time, not sure if I really wanted to read about a teenage girl getting kidnapped and held hostage. Boy was I surprised! This was one of the most eloquently written stories I have ever read and held me captivated. As the reader, I was taken on an emotional roller-coaster. Like the heroine, you will develop a love/hate relationship with the captor. This is definitely a psychological thriller that will convince you that the world does not exist in black or white, but many many shades of grey.
- The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass by Bill Maher – For all of the Bill Maher fans out there, this is a must read. Every page is hilarious. It is his typical, unapologetic, politically incorrect humor that will leave a smile on your face.
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy by Stieg Larsson – Five words: as good as the hype. The heroine, Lisbeth Salandar, is a bi-sexual badass who has an uncanny ability to hack into computer databases and commits moral killings. Mikhail Blomkvist is a journalist who intends to solve a decades old murder. The two team up and create a high-paced, epic adventure.
Bonnie’s Top Five
- Eutopia by David Nickle – Demented ideas of perfection, the practice of eugenics, inbred scary hill billies, early century ideals and stupidity (i.e.; bigotry), along with a conspiracy, and something you don’t want to meet ever. What more could you want in a good story?
- Angelfall by Susan Ee – Before Angelfall I approached fiction with angels in them warily. 1. I’m not religious. 2. In my experience angels equal religion the majority of the time. 3. Full-blown paranormal romance is ick (a lot of angel fiction I’ve come across is full-blown PNR). I’m somewhat less cautious then before because Susan Ee is awesome and Angelfall is much darker, with some horror themes, than you’d expect. Plus it isn’t fanciful with heavy overtones of romance. In other words, it made me happy.
- Watership Down by Richard Adams – I can never look at a rabbit the same again thanks to Watership Down. I am now obsessed with bunnies! Not that I didn’t love them before, but now I can’t help naming each rabbit I come across according to the descriptions of the characters in the book. I also must have a pet rabbit when I finally move into a pet-friendly place. Rabbits are awesome. Watership Down rabbits are even better!
- Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling – One of the first books from the beginning of the year (feels like much longer than that has passed) and at that point a refreshing read that couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d been reading some soppier stuff (The Darkest Powers trilogy), some so-so novels, and luckily Rise of the Wolf wasn’t either of those. I’d over-done it with fantasy awhile ago and prefer something darker now. How can fantasy with shape-shifters be atypical fantasy? It can’t! Oh the relief.
- Random Magic by Sasha Soren – Random Magic is just that; random and full of magic. I think reading Random Magic is an experience on top of being able to enjoy some creative story-telling. I’m a sucker for what I call Alice Fantasy and Random Magic falls into that category. Not to mention the great interaction I had with the author Sasha Soren and participating in her Random Magic: Pirates blog tour.
Sarah’s Top Five
- One Day by David Nicholls – This book, although most people watch the movie and think “Nah it’s just a love story”, it really captured me and I’m not a romance fan, that’s probably because it’s not really a romance. I am a fan of realism and that is what this is. I truly identified with the main character Emma, a poor, passionate school teacher, which really helped and I too have a best friend like Dex, but even if you can’t identify with the characters, you’ll identify with the problems, the struggles and the good times.
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – This book is not your happy light read, however, it does push the boundaries and open your eyes to a world which you may not know, or maybe know all too well.
- Thai-riffic by Oliver Phommavanh – This is a new book we ordered in for school and it is amazing! It’s hilarious, has a fresh voice, and the students absolutely love it. It’s from the perspective of a year 7 Thai boy living in Australia and the struggles he has because his parents own a Thai restaurant called Thai-riffic. I know! Hilarious!
- Level Up by Gene Luen Yang – Again not your most uplifting novel, but I read it at a time when I could identify with the issues within this graphic novel. It takes a quirky look at dark themes and shows how video games can really be good for us, and bad, all in moderation of course.
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – I know I know I can’t believe it took me until 2011 to read this one. It was a great read, better than the film and the film is AWESOME! If you haven’t read it, and you’ve seen the film, read the book, it will not disappoint.