Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 Best Reads (So Far)

I can’t believe that it is almost May. Realizing how far into the year we are made me reflect on all of the books I have read this year so far. Some were amazing and absorbed all of my attention for a time. Others were overrated and mediocre- but you won't find them here. Here are some of my favorites of 2011 so far, with a short snippet about each. Coming soon: Summer reading list!

New Must Read

Room/ Emma Donogue: Riveting novel about a mother and son in living in captivity and the world they create for themselves in the single room they occupy. Told from the perspective of 5-year old Jack, this one is making a big splash for being in turns horrifying and inspiring.


Atlas Shrugged / Ayn Rand: I’m still making my way through this one, just in time for the movie release as it turns out (although I admit this was not planned). As influential as this work has been, it is one probably one that everyone should read. While I kinda hate the philosophy of objectivism, I admire Ayn Rand’s skill as a writer and her ability to force me to see the world through new eyes.

The Enchanted April / Elizabeth Von Armin: Four Englishwomen, near strangers, are brought together by a shared desire to stay for a month in a castle on the Italian coast one April. I could practically see the flowering wisteria, smell the acacia, feel the sea breeze in my hair. Timeless escapism at its best.


I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman / Nora Ephron. A love song to living in New York City along with humorous thoughts on aging, from the writer of “You’ve Got Mail” and “When Harry Met Sally”.

Social Conscience

Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America/ Barbara Ehrenreich. What one educated woman learns when she goes undercover to investigate the lives of the working lower class. She travels all over the US and works as a maid, a waitress at a Denny’s, and a Walmart employee, seeing what it really takes to make ends meet without relying on welfare.


Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours/ Kim Boyce. This book, written by a pastry chef who knows her stuff, introduced me to the wonders of all new whole grain flours: oat, buckwheat, spelt flours and more. The Peach Ginger Muffins and Oat Molasses Bread were top notch!

Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry/Liana Krissof. A quirky take on canning with unique, updated recipes (Chinese Plum Sauce, North Indian Carrot Pickle, Raspberry Jam with Mint and Lavender, etc.) including both preserved foods, and delicious dishes in which to use them later. If you have a flourishing garden, this would be an excellent resource for preserving your bumper crops in creative new ways.

Historical Fiction


These Is My Words / Nancy Turner: I dove into this coming of age tale of a strong woman settlor in the late-1800's Arizona Territories. Fantastic love story and interesting historical information. Truly enjoyable reading, and everyone who reads it seems to love it as much as I did.

Snow Falling on Cedars / David Guterson: A who-done-it mystery written with unusual beauty, and set against the backdrop of anti-Japanese prejudice on a small island in the Puget Sound in the pre- and post-WWII era.

Food Writing

How to Cook a Wolf / M.F.K Fisher. You have to love M.F.K. Fisher, the voice of a past era that reminds me of my grandma - in a good way. She combines frugality and practicality with joie de vivre and her love of everything that a good meal can bring to humanity.

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table/ Molly Wizenburg. A fine example of a successful blog-to-book memoir, laced with tempting recipes and finely written anecdotes from the author’s life.

1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!