My Favorite Reads of 2011

I wasn’t able to post thoughts on the books I read in 2011 by the end of the year so I am doing it this week.  I noted the general statistics yesterday and today want to tackle my favorite reads.  Like last year, I am going to break in out into categories.

Young Adult Fiction

A large chunk of my reading this year was YA (30 of 79 books were roughly in this category) so I had a lot of books to chose from in 2011. So here are ten of my favorites in no particular order:

  1. Cover of "The Wednesday Wars"
    Cover of The Wednesday Wars

    I am going to cheat a little and put two books by Gary D. Schmidt on the list, Okay or Now and The Wednesday Wars.  “Great stories, great characters, imaginative settings and clear writing make these two books great reads. I highly recommend them.”

  2. I am also going to put N.D. Wilson here because I can’t choose just one of his wonderful books I read this year: The Dragon’s Tooth (start of the new Ashtown Burials series) and the entire 100 Cupboards series)  “… if you like large, complex and imaginative fantasy series this one is a must read.”
  3. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby “Kirby weaves a great tale. There is historical detail, psychological insight, mystery, intrigue and more.”
  4. Skellig by David Almond “It is a simple and yet powerful story of friendship, family, compassion and faith.”
  5. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi “The world DiTerlizzi has created is captivating and mysterious enough that you want to keep reading; not just to see the next illustration but to dig a little deeper into the mystery.”


I also read more non-fiction in 2011 (25 books) so this a large list to choose from as well.

  1. Love Wins by Rob Bell – The most controversial book of 2011 – and of recent years – in the evangelical world. I have avoided reviewing it because of the difficulty of covering all of the various issues and debates but it is a powerful book (I read it three times).  “… the overwhelming reaction I had to the book was one of inspiration and deeper thought. Few people I have read challenge you to rethink your ideas and reshape your perspective better than Bell.”
  2. Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football by John U. Bacon  “… if you are simply a fan of college football, or interested in big-time college athletics more generally, it is a fascinating read. “
  3. God Is Red by Liao Yiwu.  “If you feel sorry for yourself, read this book. If you think American politics are bad, read this book. If you need some inspiration for your faith, read this book.”
  4. James Madison by Richard Brookhiser  “Brookhiser writes popular history as it should be: learned and insightful but not exhausting; with sharp writing not afraid to offer an opinion but not polemical for the sake of scoring points; with prose that is clear and a joy to read.”
  5. American Grace by Robert Putnam, David E. Campbell  “… a fascinating and informative look at religious life in America.”

Adult Fiction

I read very little “adult” fiction this year and so don’t have much to recommend. One of my goals for 2012 is to read more and better fiction.

  1. The Magician King by Lev Grossman “Even if you don’t think he quite pulls it off I think he will keep you entertained and intrigued about the process; make you think about your expectations and conceptions of genre and story.”
  2. The Break by Pietro Grossi “… further proof that you don’t need a thousand pages to create evocative and beautiful prose – or to create a compelling story.”
  3. Little Elvises by Timothy Hallinan “… another enjoyable romp through Los Angeles with a memorable cast of characters, Hallinan’s dry and wry sense of humor, and a twisting plot that leaves you rushing to figure out the mystery at the heart of the story.”

What books were your favorites from 2011?

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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