Best Books Of 2011

From time travel to the Amazon to Catherine the Great to new Murakami, we’ll look at the best books of 2011.



So, book means something new now.  Not necessarily paper and ink and binding at all.  Could be purely digital, a stream of characters on a Kindle, an i-Pad. It doesn’t matter.  The act of imagination and searching and presentation that goes on in a book – whatever its form – is catnip to the amazing human mind.

Nourishment.  Insight.  Challenge.  Escape.  This year’s crop came in many flavors.  From the Everglades to the grassy knoll to the chambers of Catherine the Great.

This hour,  On Point:  the best books of 2011.

-Tom Ashbrook


Laura Miller, book critic for and one of its co-founders. She is an occasional contributor to The New York Times Book Review and editor of “The Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Authors.”

Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson’s bookshops, with locations in Naperville and Downer’s Grove Illinois.

David Ulin, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.


Best Book Reading Lists

You can find Tom’s pick of the year, in addition to listener and caller picks here.


The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
Pym – Matt Johnson
State of Wonder – Ann Patchett
The Tragedy of Arthur – Arthur Phillips
The Pale King – David Foster Wallace

Townie – Andre Dubus III
Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution – Mary Gabriel
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood – James Gleick
Catherine the Great: The Portrait of a Woman – Robert K. Massie
Lost in Shangri-La – Mitchell Zuckoff


Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
Turn of Mind – Alice LaPlante
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Death in the City of Light – David King
The Orchard – Theresa Weir
Rin Tin Tin – Susan Orleans

Prudence Wants a Pet – Cathleen Daly, illus. Stephen Michael King

Blizzard of Glass – Sally M. Walker



“1Q84” by Haruki Murakami
“Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories” by Edith Pearlman
“The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.” by Jonathan Lethem
“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick
“Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews”
by Geoff  Dyer

“Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music,” edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz
“Stone Arabia” by Dana Spiotta
“Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson
“A Widow’s Story: A Memoir” by Joyce Carol Oates
“You Think That’s Bad: Stories” by Jim Shepard

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