bjc’s top 5 reads of 2011

Books Published in 2011:

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s like Cirque du Soleil on magical steroids. If it weren’t for the stupid love story that I can almost totally ignore, it would be five stars. The writing is absolutely delicious.

Tiny Sunbirds, Far AwayTiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an astounding story of learning strength through many challenges. It is very simply told but the events do not need flowery descriptions to be vivid and compelling. This is a coming of age story in circumstances that often seem impossible. But there is a window of light that opens in every dark time to create a tale that is ultimately about overcoming. I feel like I have visited an Ijaw village outside of Lagos in Nigeria, and Tiny Sunbirds Far Away is definitely a trip I would recommend. Just pack some Kleenex for the last 50 pages.

A Classic, Read for the First Time in 2011:

A Hero of Our TimeA Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“After all, nothing can happen that is worse than death – and you can’t avoid death!”

I give this book four stars in large part because A Hero of Our Time is just an excellent example of what I love about Russian Lit – tragedy beyond Greek tragedy, melancholy beyond French melancholy, a touch of the class intrigues of Jane Austen, and not a little bit of near eastern adventures such as A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

It’s an odd novel: the point of view changes, the timeline is all over the place, there are disjointed sections and no clear story arc. But it is nevertheless a journey closer and closer to the heart of Pechorin, a man who has both great desire and great disdain for life.

A Favorite Author’s Old Work Read for the First Time in 2011:

Kafka on the ShoreKafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like a thunderstorm in snow, thrilling yet ominously quiet. Kafka on the Shore is Murakami on top of his game. Talking cats, nightmarish visions, family secrets and unsullied love swirl around the reader with grace – and force. A beautifully-told adventure that lingers in my mind long after the final page is turned.

A Favorite Memoir Revisited (Yet Again) as a newly-released eBook in 2011:

Out of Africa and Shadows on the GrassOut of Africa and Shadows on the Grass by Karen Blixen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tale of the beauty that is found only within failure, Out of Africa is one of my all time favorite books. In the twilight years of colonial Kenya, Baroness Blixen endeavors to grow coffee a thousand feet higher than it can thrive. Drought, disease, and plagues of locusts thwart one good intention after the next. But, God, the sights and smells of the Ngong Hills of British East Africa. The tiny Kikuyu and the towering Masai. The roaring of lions and the silent shadows of buffalo. Great friends, strange neighbors, and high tea in the jungle. A truly great read that I appreciate more each time.

View all my reviews

With the exception of Tiny Sunbirds, all of these and more are available as eBooks at my local bookstore – and maybe yours! Remember, you can patronize your favorite local and enjoy the convenience of eBooks. Be sure to check their website.

Over the Moon Books

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