I did a list of my best reads of last year, and y’all seemed to like that.
Best “reads” means that I read it in 2011, not necessarily that the books were all published that year. I’m way behind in everything, why not in books, too?
1. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
I have been shoving this book down everyone’s throat because it’s just a really good read. It’s a crime novel, but it’s also just a great novel. You don’t have to be obsessed with Agatha Christie (c’est moi) to enjoy this book.
2. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran
Crime novel with a little supernatural thrown in, good novel. I hope this is a first in a series deal; I liked the tone of this book and these characters.
3. Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn
Linked short stories that take you deep into another time in another place. I should really check to see if Ms. Winn has other books. Not a crime novel, although lots of terrible things happen. Crime, in fact.
4. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Again: good crime novel but also a good novel.
5. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
This was the meta crime novel in which the authors’ catty notes to one another are included in between their alternating chapters. Pretty hilarious, and a pretty interesting teaching tool for someone trying to write a crime novel.
6. The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey
Protagonist with amnesia, lotsa trouble to face, well-told. This one probably shows up on a lot of best of lists, and rightly so.
7. Missing Persons by Clare O’Donohue
Protagonist TV producer gets pulled into solving ex’s death. I love amateur detectives. I know this one is a series starter, so I’m looking forward to the second book this spring.
8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Nonfiction that is rare and beautiful and harrowing. Read it.
9. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Nonfiction that is fun and nostalgic and smart. You probably had to have been a fan of the Little House books, but of course you are, right? RIGHT?
10. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
You’d have to be a fan of the creepier Little House TV shows to read this one. Shakespearean body count, beautiful book.
I re-read a lot of stuff this year. I don’t include any re-reads here, but I did enjoy some old favorites that I’d also push on you, given half a chance: To Kill a Mockingbird, Bird by Bird, On Writing by Stephen King, Winnie-the-Pooh.