Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Big Reads in 2011

My Top Novels for 2011

This list does not include Japanese literature
  1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo-no contest,  number one book of the year.-maybe of several years.
  2. Gone With the Wind"  by Margaret Mitchell-so glad I finally read this book. It was way better than I thought it would be.   I loved it.
  3. Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann-been on my to read list for decades-not by any means a light read but very worth the time.
  4. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol--a strange wonderful book-foodies will love it-I don't care what Nabokov said, this is a comic novel.
  5. Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo-both Hugo books should be on all literary autodidacts life time lists.  
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel Marquez-OK maybe a bit over hyped but still a must read.
  7. A Passage to India by E. M. Forester-a near overwhelming work. Amazing
  8. Man Eater of Malguidi-by R. K. Narayan-just such a wonderful fun book. Trust me on this one!    
  9. Waiting for Godot-big time must read play-Samuel Beckett
  10. Ubo Roi by Alfred Jarry-I learned of his great import this year
  11. Tristram Shandy-by Lawrence Sterne-very odd book!
  12. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens-for a read along-not the best of his work but still it is Dickens.
  13. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James-readable!
  14. The Value of Rain by Brandon Shire-Powerful new writer
  15. The Plague by Albert Camus-culturally really important work
  16. Silk by Grace Dane Mazur-beautiful collection of short stories
  17. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov-amazing collection of short stories
  18. Access: Thirteen Tales by Xi Xu -marvelous collection of short stories 
  19. Nude by  Nuala Ní Chonchúi-another great collection of short stories
  20. The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories-edited by William Trevor-classic 
  21. The Collected Short Stories of Elizabeth Bowen-a legacy for the ages-stories for real adults
  22. Somewhere in Minnesota by Orfhlaith Foyle - great short story collection

    Once you get past book number three, the order listed does not mean anything.   I read 86 novels in 2011 and five dramas.   I also read 6 works of nonfiction.   

    I also read about 700 short stories in 2011.   I was going to try to do a best ten or twenty post on them but it is just sort of not something I want to do just yet.   

What were your big reads of the year?   

Mel u


*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

I'll be reading Les Mis starting in two days. :-) Finally got the unabridged copy!

I'm happy you loved Gone With the Wind. That one's my favorite. :)

Bellezza said...

Wonderful list here, Mel, including some great classics which I, too, have enjoyed in years past. I liked seeing Ivan and Misha here amongst them; it was a powerful book to me as well, so beautifully written. I'll long remember the father character in that novel.

@parridhlantern said...

What has amazed me, is although you're a massive fan of J-Lit, it hasn't featured in your list,which is the same as mine I've read some fantastic Japanese Literature, Kobo Abe, just one that springs to mind & yet whilst compiling my small list, he was almost in there, but was knocked off by my favourite.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Some great books here! I reread Gone With the Wind this year and it improved on the second reading, even better than I remembered. I'm hoping to read Les Mis soon.

I read A Passage To India a few years ago and I remember really not liking it. The exuberance of the characters was a bit much for me.

Mel u said...

Parrish Lantern-my error in posting-I should have made it clear that I was putting all of my Japanese literature in a separate post-

Anonymous said...

Great year, congratulations! here is my recap:

JoAnn said...

Wonderful list, Mel! I still remember the impact Les Miserables had, and it's been many years since I read it. Portrait of a Lady is always a favorite and I hope to finally finish The Magic Mountain in 2012.... have had a bookmark in it for years.

Song said...

WoW! That's a lot of reading....and solid stuff at that!

I'm getting "curiouser and curiouser" about Les Misrables. It seems to be making the rounds this year. I figured if I finished War and Peace by June 2012 I would pick Les Mis...

Mel u said...

Jillian-Gone with the Wind was a great read-way exceeded my expectations-everyone who reads Les Miserables, including me, puts it on a life time top book list-I will look forward to your thoughts as you work through it

Bellezza-it is great we both really appreciate Ivan and Misha-the father is brilliantly realized-I hope this book gets the wide readership it deserves

Sam (Tiny Library) Gone with the Wind was a wonderful read-I will await your response on Les Miserables-emerging as the 2012 book blog big book of the year

wordsandpeace-thanks always for your comments and visits

Joann-yes loved Gone with the Wind-and Les Miserables is truly a peak worth scaling

Risa-it looks like Les Miserables will be one of the big book blog works of 2012-for sure try to read it as soon as you can

Órfhlaith Foyle said...

Thank you Mel U for having my work on your list. I am reading Dead Souls at the moment and it is brilliant.
Happy New Year to you, Órfhlaith

Brandon Shire said...

Thank you for including The Value of Rain in this very powerful list. I am truly humbled by the comp0any in which you placed it. Thank you so much. Les Miserables is also one of my own all time favorites. :)Best of luck in 2012.

michael alenyikov said...

I am also humbled, to say the least, to see "Ivan and Misha" included amongst such a list of classics.

Song said...

@Mel: I'm sold. I've just signed up at Kate's to do the year-long readalong of Les Miserables!! :D

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

So many good books.

You stumped me with the Nabokov thing, though. Where does he say that Dead Souls is not comic?

Nabokov himself wrote nothing but comic novels.

Mel u said...

Amateur Reader (Tom). My source on the Gogol matter is in direct. Clifton Fadiman say in his book The Time Reading Plan that he once wrote an introduction to Dead Souls in which he said it was a great comic novel and Nabokhov attacked him for this saying he was an idiot. I do not have a soource for the Nabohkov reference but I guess it is somewhere in the archives of the new yorker or in the wilson/nabokhov correspondence. of course fadiiman might have overrected and nabokhov could be nasty Of course mybe Fadiman, who I trust, got mixed up.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

I've tracked all this down. Nabokov writes that a new translation of Gogol has a "ridiculous forward" (no hint of an idiot) on p. 61 of VN's Nikolai Gogol. Fadiman, in the Dead Souls intro in The Lifetime Reading Plan says:

"I think Nabokov must have felt queasy over my notion (shared by many) that Dead Souls is a great comic novel."

The "I think" is crucial, since Nabokov's complaint is entirely about the bizarre decision to use a mishmash hybrid title for a new (and excellent) translation of the novel. The decision, VN writes, "has apparently been prompted by the fear of suggesting gloomy ideas to rosy-cheeked comic strip fans." This is a close paraphrase of Fadiman - see the top of p. vi, Foreword to Chichikov's Journeys; or, Home Life in Old Russia, 1942.

I suppose this is all dull enough that I should stop.