I am normally very sure about what I like and what I don’t. So, doing top 10 best reads is usually a cinch for me. But last year was such a whirlwind! Also, my reading experiences were a bit of a mixed bag. There were a lot of books that I didn’t love but didn’t hate either. Thus, putting together a top 10 was more difficult than it usually is. Anyway here is my Top 10 Books for 2011 with excerpts from my reviews (Click on the titles for the full reviews),
Detective Stories. Philip Pullman.
The collection starts with The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Panic grips a lonely woman when she starts to hear the same late night whistling noise that her twin sister spoke of in her dying moments…
Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse.
Jeeves and the Song of Songs (1929) has Bertie right in the middle of Tuppy Glossop’s tangled love life as he is forced to sing at a concert for Beefy Bingham. Anyone who has seen the 1990 series Jeeves and Wooster will appreciate this story even more. I recently watched a re-run of the show (I am too young to remember its original run) and thought Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were absolutely marvellous in it!
Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier.
For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.
The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith.
I found several parts of the book quite funny. Like Lupin recklessly driving a pony-trap and causing general havoc in the streets while Mr. Pooter being seated at the back has to bear the wrath of ‘a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart’. Or Mr. Cummings becoming ill and being angry at his friends for not reading about his illness in ‘The Bicycle News’. And Mr. Pooter getting annoyed after having to eat the same blanc-mange repeatedly.
A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson.
I really liked how Bryson talks of the people behind the science. The lives of known and unknown people behind some of the greatest discoveries come alive through Bryson’s narrative.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen.
Louis Drax is an accident prone boy. Ever since he was a baby he has been involved in more than his fair share of near fatal accidents. But so far they have all been just that, ‘nearly’ but not wholly ‘fatal’. On his ninth birthday, however, things may change for the worse. Louis may never come out alive from this ‘accident’.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami.
Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,
‘What on earth is this?’
The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.
In Introducing Claude and Eustace and Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, Bertie’s cousins, Claude and Eustace, come home with a top hat, several cats and a Salmon. Meanwhile, Sir Roderick Glossop, the noted nerve specialist, comes to lunch and questions Bertie’s sanity.
Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings. Charles Dickens.
After Mrs. Lirriper’s drink loving husband perishes in an accident, Mrs. Lirriper starts to take in lodgers to make ends meet and also to pay off Mr. Lirriper’s debts. Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings describes some of her experiences as a lodge keeper… I liked how Mrs. Lirriper keeps addressing the reader as ‘My Dear’, as though she knows us all and is having an ordinary conversation with us. It is sort of comforting somehow.
Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy. Charles Dickens.
Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy is a worthy conclusion to the story of Mrs. Lirriper. The hopefulness of the first book comes to fruition in the second one.
It’s Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock – A Personal Biography. Charlotte Chandler.
I like the cover of the book. It is striking. As I read this book en route to my workplace many people asked me what book I was reading and they seemed genuinely interested in it.
I’ve had a pretty…. mixed bag year of books too. In fact, I only managed to come out with a top seven books.
You seem to have had a very Jeeves and Wooster year… I have one of those books somewhere (haven’t seen it in a long time).
Glad you enjoyed The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I keep wanting to re-read that one, because I don’t think there’s a way you can take it all in on one sitting.
Sorry about your not-to-great reading year. Hope 2012 turns out to be a great year in books for you!
I read only one P. G. Wodehouse before. It was a Jeeves and Wooster novel called Jeeves in the Offing. I didn’t enjoy it that much. Now after Very Good, Jeeves and The Inimitable Jeeves I know that I enjoy Jeeves short stories better than Jeeves novels.
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle was good but I am still a bit scared of reading more Murakami.