Best Books of 2011 Honor Roll: Bios & Memoirs, Poetry

The final version of the 2011 ABBC (All-the-Best-Books Compilation) is available for download as an Excel spreadsheet via Blogging for a Good Book at Williamsburg Regional Library. The spreadsheet lists 3328 titles published in 2011 in 11 genres and subject categories, each annotated to show which of 237 newspapers, magazines, awards, blogs, and other web sites named them a best book of 2011.

I’m concluding coverage of the best of 2011 with five long lists. This post shows the most frequently praised books in two categories: biographies and memoirs, and poetry.


38 mentions  Joan Didion  Blue Nights

35 mentions  Tina Fey  Bossypants

33 mentions  Walter Isaacson  Steve Jobs

30 mentions  Gabrielle Hamilton  Blood, Bones & Butter: the Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

28 mentions  Robert K. Massie  Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

25 mentions  Andre Dubus III  Townie: a Memoir

21 mentions  Manning Marable  Malcolm X: a Life of Reinvention

16 mentions  Claire Tomalin  Charles Dickens: a Life

13 mentions  Paul Hendrickson  Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961

10 mentions  Mira Bartok  The Memory Palace

Brian Kellow  Pauline Kael: a Life in the Dark

Diane Keaton  Then Again

9 mentions  Philip Connors Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

Roger Ebert  Life Itself

John Lewis Gaddis  George F. Kennan: an American Life

Joseph Lelyveld  Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India

Alexandra Styron  Reading My Father

Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith  Van Gogh: the Life

8 mentions  Lydia Yuknavitch  The Chronology of Water

Meghan O’Rourke  The Long Goodbye

Mary Gabriel  Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution

Margaux Fragoso  Tiger, Tiger


8 mentions  Tracy K. Smith  Life on Mars

6 mentions  Bruce Smith  Devotions

Laura Kasischke  Space, in Chains

5 mentions  Yusef Komunyakaa  The Chameleon Couch

Alice Oswald  Memorial

4 mentions  Adrienne Rich  Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010

3 mentions  Carl Phillips  Double Shadow

Dean Young  Fall Higher

Nikky Finney  Head off & Split



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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