Here are my top books of 2011, with a couple of bonus mentions at the end. It’s a shorter list than my usual Top Five, but that’s because much of my reading this year was published prior to 2011, and the list only covers books published this year. If you’d care to read previous years’ lists, you may do so here. The books aren’t listed in any particular ranking, except for the Squee.
SQUEE OF THE YEAR: Livia Llewellyn’s ENGINES OF DESIRE. A provocative, arousing and diverse collection of speculative fiction. Hell, I even loved the cover. I’ll definitely be re-reading this one, and I almost never have time to re-read these days. This is Livia’s debut book, and I can’t wait to read more from her. You can read my full review here, and buy the book here.
THE REST OF THE BEST:
1. Weston Ochse’s MULTIPLEX FANDANGO. Even if Weston wasn’t a career Soldier who started his writing career while in the Army (sound familiar?) and one Hell of a guy, this book would be on my list. But he is, so instead of just telling you to buy one copy, I’ll recommend you grab two. It’d be worth picking up a copy for a friend, anyhow, especially if you or your friend haven’t read Weston before. MULTIPLEX serves well as an introduction to a talented and extremely hard-working author at the top of his game and as a damn-near epic, and career-spanning, collection of his short fiction. You can read my full review here and buy the book here.
2. Kelli Owen’s WAITING OUT WINTER. This is a limited-edition chapbook, so copies might be hard to come by, but this is a fun read you should snap up if you get the chance, and a story I’d expect to see in a collection of Kelli’s short fiction. It’s an apocalyptic story without zombies, as impossible as that may sound these days, and more importantly, it’s a human story, with a fun and ironic twist at the end. You can read my full review here, and if you have a Nook, you can pick up a digital copy.
3. Stephen King’s 11/22/63. King, even at the top of his game, has a habit of being a bit long-winded. His last novel, UNDER THE DOME, was a thousand-page brick and also, in my opinion, disappointing as Hell. I really wanted to like this epic-length story of a guy going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination–and I did. Alot. As much as an unnecessarily padded book can aggravate me, nothing satisfies me like a long book done well, that I can lose myself in for a big chunk of time. This book did that, admirably well. King didn’t beat the mechanics of time travel to death, which I greatly appreciate, and Jake’s relationship with Sadie is at least as poignant, and somewhat reminiscent of, BAG OF BONES, another favorite King of mine. The bonus visit to Derry during the first quarter of the book is the cherry on top.
HONORABLE MENTION: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan. This isn’t a one-book sort of deal, where I can just throw up one pile of stapled-together pictures and words and call it good; it’s an ongoing comic series, hence the special mention. I’ve been a Turtles fan since forever, grew up watching the cartoon and have read the bulk of the original Mirage and later Archie comics turtles series’. I was stoked beyond words when I heard IDW was going to be doing the Turtles; even moreso when I learned that original creator, Kevin Eastman, was going to be on board. I’ve read the first three issues and I’m loving it. The first trade, which I’d imagine will collect the first four-issue arc, will be on sale in February, but I’m sure you can track down the individual issues at your local comic shop. Any concerns about the comic being cartoony, or for kids, or that the writers will just be rehashing what’s already been done..? Lay them aside. Already, we’ve had an entirely different Turtles origin and not a Shredder in sight, though even I’d be disappointed if we didn’t see the ol’ Shred-head eventually.