Bookpage Best Books Of 2011

What makes a good book? That topic has been discussed even more frequently than usual in 2011, amid controversies over England’s Man Booker Prize and our own National Book Award.

In a year filled with best-selling biographies, anticipated debuts and long-awaited releases from literary heavyweights, our editors have voted on their favorites and come up with a list that encompasses all of the above while leaving room for a few surprises. Though our choices run the genre gamut—and reader preferences are, after all, intensely personal—we guarantee that every title manages to do the one thing every good book should: carry you away. 

 

1. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
3The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
4. Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
5. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
6. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
7. The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
8. Townie by Andre Dubus III
9. What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
10. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
11. Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
12. The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
13. Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
14. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
15. Bossypants by Tina Fey
16. This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
17. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
18. Blue Nights by Joan Didion
19. Life Itself by Roger Ebert
20. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

21. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
22. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
23. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
24. The Submission by Amy Waldman
25. The Astral by Kate Christensen
26. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
27. The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block
28. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
29. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
30. The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims
31. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
32. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
33. To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
34. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
35. Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld
36. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
37. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
38. A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
39. West of Here by Jonathan Evison
40. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
41. The Realm of Hungry Spirits by Lorraine Lopez
42. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
43. Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
44. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
45. The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey
46. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
47. A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant
48. The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
49. Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst
50. My New American Life by Francine Prose

Read more Best of 2011 coverage, including musings from our editors on some of the winning titles, on our blog. Don't miss our best books for children and teens!