2011 Book List

I’ve compiled a list of my Recommended Reads for 2011 – Happy Reading!

Several of you have been asking when I was going to post my list of books read in 2011 – so here it is!!

You may also want to check out my book lists from 2010, 2009, 2008.

I only read 42 books this year, down from 53 books last year but I think I should get extra credit for reading all of Harry Potter.  Those are some big books!

As I said last year, just because I read the book doesn’t necessarily mean I recommend it although usually if it is on my list it’s worth reading.  If a book ends up with too much language or sexual content I will stop reading it and those books are not on the list.  But my list is not G rated.  Using movie ratings, the books on this list range from G rated to PG 13.   So I highly recommend that you consult this great site – Rated Reads before you read the book to make sure it is something you want to read.

This year I have given the books I read a rating system (1-5 stars)  There are no 1 stars on the list because those are the ones I didn’t finish.  The lowest score that made the list was a 2.5.

We need to take personal responsibility for what we read and watch and we all have different standards so please be sure and check things out.  Although the majority of what I read I would consider rated PG there may a few books that I have read that don’t meet with your personal standards so please be a responsible reader.  I don’t want to offend anyone.

2011 was the year I finally read Harry Potter.  Yes, believe it or not I had only read the first one but I can now proudly say I have read the entire series and watched each of the movies.  I must admit I enjoyed them more than I thought I would and I was so sad when Dumbledore died.  I kept hoping it really wasn’t true.  I now have a list of Dumbledoreisms that I love!  I am not even going to attempt to rate the Harry Potter books – how do you rate a classic?  But there definitely are some I enjoyed more than others and to be perfectly honest with you they have all run together in my brain!

Picking my favorite book of the year is difficult and quite a responsibility.  This year there were a couple.  Of course, like many of you I loved The Help but hesitate to pick it as my favorite because it is such an “expected” choice.  I loved it though and loved the movie almost as much.

My husband is  not as big a reader as I am so when he started reading this next book and couldn’t put it down I knew it had to be good.  He gets up very early for work but he would stay up past his bedtime to read.  He couldn’t wait for me to read the book but I had to wait to get to the top of the waiting list at the library.  That book was Unbroken –  a sometimes difficult to read but beautiful story of endurance, strength, survival,  and redemption.  I loved it and it is one of my two top picks.

As always, I LOVE to hear what you have been reading.  Please share with me what your top picks for 2011 are and what you’re reading right now and loving!!  Just leave a comment below.

My 2011 Book List

Ape House by Sara Gruen  (2.5)  Probably my least favorite book of the year but I did finish it. I had read Water for Elephants and really enjoyed it but this one was a disappointment.  Guess I just don’t like apes.

Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie Mallowan (3) If you have ever been an Agatha Christi fan you may enjoy this story of part of her life.  It is not a book I would have picked up on my own but read because it was a book club pick and really enjoyed it.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin (4.5)  Loved this book and want to read more of his work.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman (3)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the  Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

At the Little Brown House by Ruth Alberta Brown (3.5) A sweet G rated read

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (5)  Almost loved the movie as much as the book

Once Upon a Time, There was You by Elizabeth Berg (3)  Not my favorite Elizabeth Berg book.

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz (3.5)  Interesting view and interpretation of Pride & Predjudice

Harry Potter  and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ten Thousand Sorrows by Elizabeth Kim. (2.5)    Did not enjoy at all but kept reading because it was for book club.

Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (4.5)  Love all her books.  Hope she writes more!

The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith (3.5)  Don’t enjoy these as much as I did the first ones but I keep reading.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (4)  Watch the movie Midnight in Paris after reading this book.  Story of Ernest Hemingway during his Paris years.

Viola in Reel Life  by Adriana Trigiani.  (3.5) This is young adult fiction. Love all of her other books better.

The Element  by Ken Robinson (3.5)  non fiction

The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann (4) non fiction

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel (2.5)  Not worth reading but there is a recipe at the end of each chapter.

Dreams of Joy (Sequel to Shanghai girls) by Lisa See (3.5 – rape scene may be offensive)

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith (3.5)  Again, read because I’ve read all the others.

A Year on Lady Bug Farm by Donna Ball. (4.5)  First in the series of three.  A delightful, easy read.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (5.0)  A book club but I would have read it anyway.  Highly recommend

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (4.0)  My son’s favorite CS Lewis book.

At Home on Lady Bug Farm by Donna Ball (4.5)  Enjoyed as much as the first

Love Letters from LadyBug Farm  by Donna Ball (4.5)  Was sad this was the last in the series

Distant Hours by Kate Morton (4.5)  Really enjoy her books – a little Gothic Romance

I Still Dream of You by Fannie Flagg (3.5)

Eiffel’s Tower  by Jill Jonnes   (3.5)  Interesting history of the Eiffel Tower.  Similar type book as Devil in the White City but didn’t like it as much as Devil.

Cutting for Stone by  Abraham Verghese  (4.5)  My third favorite book of the year

The Persian Pickle Club  by Sandra Dallas  (3.5)  Nice story of women supporting each other.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown  (3.5)  Not sure why I waited so long to read this one.

Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball (3.5) Fun, easy read.  Wish someone would leave me a castle in France!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (4.0)  non fiction

Heaven is for Real by Sandra Dallas    (3.5)  non fiction, story of life after death.  Interesting.

The Little Prince  by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (4.0) I read it in English than time.  In French the first time years ago.

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews (3.0)  A beach read

Unbroken  by Laura Hillenbrand (5.0)  Parts were difficult to read but overall an amazing story and book.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (4.0)  Not my typical genre (dystopian) but enjoyed it more than I thought I would

The House at Riverton  by Kate Morton (4.0)  Have read all of her books.

The Book of Mormon – A yearly read for me.

So share with me your favorite reads of 2011!

Leigh Anne
Hi – I’m Leigh Anne! I have been a homebased mom for 30 years since my first baby boy was born! I love working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority. I blog about everything I enjoy – creating treats and meals in my kitchen, spending time in my garden, entertaining and party planning, reading, self improvement and tips and ideas on style and fashion.
Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne

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  1. Dawnelle says

    I love getting new ideas for books. Unbroken was one of my favorites this year too. My other favorite was Sarah’s key. I also saw you read a Kate Morton book, have you read the secret garden by her? Thanks again for new reads

  2. Jessica says

    Oh, I love all of Kate Morton’s books ~ she is one of my favorite authors. I read Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran and loved it. I wasn’t very interested in the wax museum topic so I almost passed it over, but ended up loving it. Right now I am reading Rules of Civility and liking it so far. I also really enjoyed The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. Loved The Paris Wife, and Midnight in Paris. Thank you for sharing your list ~ I enjoy seeing what people are reading.

  3. says

    I love your book lists. Your ratings and short descriptions really help me figure out what I’d like to read next. Thank you for taking the time to share!

  4. Karen says

    Unbroken sounds like a book my husband and I would both like. It’s next on my list of reads. My favorite book of all time is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It’s a memoir that draws you into the writer’s dysfunctional family and holds you captive until the end.

  5. Barbara says

    Dearest Leigh Anne, I have so enjoyed reading your blog (have it marked in my bloglines) and was surprised by your reading list and not sure why! Love your choices! I am just finishing UNBROKEN and have to say I am broken as a mother! We owe so very much to our servicemen, servicewomen and their families left behind! My husband was in the army and I think I must have had no idea the sacrifice he made leaving home! I listen to many books on tape while sewing – Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Book Thief, and The Thirteenth Tale were wonderful. Also your husband would enjoy Rawhide Down – wonderful story on Reagan whether a Dem or Rep!! Barbara

  6. Nicole says

    I read Unbroken this year and also Handmaid’s tale. I like both of them. Ape House I didn’t even finish. I read another one by Gruen, and It wasn’t that great: she left it all in Water for Elephants. Also read The Help this year also and liked it too. Cool we read some of the same books. I love Harry Pooter, but I’ve had those read for a few years now

    • says

      Harlene, That’s a hard call. WWII was a very different war and he went through some unimaginable, horrific things. The book really ends in a good way – full of hope and redemption but I may pass for right now if I had a son being deployed. After reading the book though I am even more grateful for those who sacrifice to serve our country – thank you to your son!!

  7. says

    Thanks for your list, I’ve got some good ideas for my own ‘to read’ list.
    Loved The Help, I’ve listened to the audible format several times–they have some great readers! Also enjoyed Unbroken, also on audible.
    One of my favorite books this year was Saving Cee Cee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman–it is a delightful read or listen. It’s my pick for book club this year. Last month we read The Uses of Adversity by Carlfred Broderick. We don’t often read religious books but this led to a great discussion. It is a quick hour read, I will read it often.

  8. Stacy McFarland says

    The Unbroken
    Happiness Project*
    The Help*
    The Illuminator*
    Mercy Seller
    Worth Dying For
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Walking on Water
    The Book of Mormon (2)
    Washington: The Indespensable Man
    Russian Winter
    Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand*
    These are the ones I remember! * for liked/recommend

  9. Claudia says

    Thank you, thank you for posting your 2011 favorite reads this week. I’m on the hunt for some good recommendations since my book club meets next Monday to choose books for 2012. My two favorites this year were: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and Cutting for Stone by Verghese. Right now I’m reading “Omnivores Dilemma” by Michael Pollan; (I also found his “In Defense of Food” very compelling). Thanks for sharing. Belated Happy Birthday to you!

  10. Meghan says

    Thank you for posting your lists. I just read Unbroken for a book club and absolutely loved it although it tore my heart out! I’m not a huge reader, so your list blows me away. :) It’s one of my goals to read more and your list will be a huge help. Thanks again!

  11. Kristy says

    Thank you for your list of books. I would have to say that my favorite book read last year was also Unbroken and Sarah’s Key. My favorite book this year that I just finished is Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman. I think you would like it because it mentions that the author is really good friends with Kate Morton. I have not read her books but will now because of the high recommendation from you and everyone else.

  12. says

    “Unbroken” is sitting right here next to me. Twenty pages to go. All I can say is, wow. Amazing.
    Thanks for your list, Leigh Ann. I just put a couple of them on hold at the library.
    Hope you are well. :)

  13. says

    OH this is great!! I listen to LOTS of audiobooks with my commute and the hardest part is figuring out what to read next – I have to quit half way through a lot of the books because they are rated R! I’m so excited to have lots of new suggestions – I’ve read your top 2, so Cutting for Stone, here I come! Thank you!

  14. says

    I just came across your blog and I am a book lover as well!! I read snowflower and the secret fan, the apothecary’s daughter and the boy in the striped pajamas and one day and I loved them all. I will be following you! bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com

  15. says

    Thanks for the book suggestions. I also read The Help this year. I read the Persian Pickle Club and the Harry Potter books over the last few years. Besides those and the Book of Mormon, there are a lot I haven’t read and I appreciate the recommendations.

    A couple others that I read this year and loved was These is my Words (the whole series) and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  16. Sheri Shenk says

    Our entire church is reading Unbroken and incorporating a 3-week sermon series built on the themes “Lessons Learned on the Raft,” “Lessons from Prison,” and this coming weekend (1/20 – 1/21) we will welcome Lou Zamperini at all 4 services! Lou’s own book (Devil at My Heels) addresses in greater detail the issues of his faith. Both are excellent book. Inspirational to read such a testament to courage! Even more so to find that even the most courageous man has a breaking point – a point at which he knows that his personal achievements cannot guarantee him the inner peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ.

    • says

      Sheri, What an amazing experience to actually get to hear from Mr. Zamperini!! I was not aware he had another book – will have to check it out. THanks for sharing.

    • rere says

      i also thank you sheri for the information that mr. zamperini has written a book. my husband and i loved “unbroken”.

  17. says

    I am so glad that you included comments and a rating this year. I have saved your book lists for the past three years but I appreciate you taking the time to comment on the books this year so that I can make my determination on what books I want to read based on your comments.
    I don’t go anywhere without a book – I’m on my fourth for the year already so having a list of (clean) good books to choose from is terrific! Love your site.

  18. kelly says

    thank you thank you. my resolution for this year is to get off the computer and back to books. so far i’ve read the best of me by nicholas sparks – very typical of his books, easy and good reads. and now i’m reading the wedding letters by richard paul evans, also very typical for him and a good easy read. had to get back into it with some good easy reads!!
    some have been listed but my favorites are the glass castle, house rules by jodi picoult (very insightful about autism), still alice (so good) and have you read the middle place by kelly corrigan?! so good a little language but not bad. i wanted to read cutting for stone but heard that was more of a high PG-13 or R book.
    thanks again and i love the comments too!

  19. says

    I just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain—wonderful! There is some language, but it is fairly sparsely scattered and not gratuitous. It is the story of a man as he moves through some of life–told from the perspective of his dog. Sprinkled with lots of wisdom. Thanks for sharing your list!

  20. Jenn Mickelsen says

    I also really enjoyed Sarah’s Key as you’ve had commented already. I also just ready The Ladies Auxiliary for our book club and would strongly recommend it. It is the story of a jewish orthodox community and how they welcome (or not) a new member into their community. They discovered new ways to live their religion and celebrate their traditions. As a member of the church I found it fascinating and very easy to relate to. It really made me question my intentions for living my religion. A really good book!

  21. AdrianeC says

    My favorite book of 2011 was The Langauage of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It was very well written and very moving. I highly recommend it.

  22. says

    I just finished The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. IT WAS SO GOOD! Some swearing, but I would consider it a high PG or low PG-13.

    Thanks so much for the list…my to-read list on goodreads.com is growing out of control! I’m never going to finish all the books I want to read!:)

  23. rere says

    thank you, thank you for your reading list. my husband and i have just started to take the time to read books and we love it. i appreciate all the wonderful ideas for new reads for us.

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