Best Books of 2011

It’s the last Friday of January, and in celebration of an incredible start to 2012, I thought we ought to take a look back at 2011. Or, to be more specific, the best books of 2011.

There were some fantastic books that came out last year, and I think they deserve to be recognized for their awesomeness. So together with the rest of the Pub Crawl gals, we swapped our faves of last year and came up with:

The Pub(lishing) Crawl Top 10 Books of 2011!

To be as fair and unbiased as possible, we decided not to include titles written by any of us Pub Crawlers (sorry Mandy and Marie! <3). Keeping that in mind, here are our picks for the top 10 books of 2011 (in no particular order)!

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness

Unless you missed Erin’s gushing recommendation, you shouldn’t be surprised that this title is a favourite for a number of the Pub Crawl ladies. Dark, sincere, and moving, this is the kind of book that makes your chest throb painfully, that makes you ache and ache until you feel as though you can’t breathe anymore. A story about coming to terms with loss, it is haunting, but it is also hopeful; and the prose is beautiful beside the stunning artwork. Really, if one word could sum up this book, it would be: Gorgeous. (Okay. And heartbreaking. But it is the type of story that sticks with you, and grows and blooms in the darkest part of you, and slowly but surely brightens it.)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of our former LTWF readers (remember Sammy’s recommendation?), and a number of us have openly raved about it as well. This is the type of book that will make you laugh, and swoon, and (possibly!) cry; and above all, it will just make you feel good reading it. But that isn’t to say that this book doesn’t have depth: there are complicated relationships, and breathtakingly real characters who love and lose and are confused. Lola’s style is wild, fun, expressive, and outrageous – and as an aspiring designer, she’s got big plans. She’s a good daughter, and is perfectly content. Everything is where she wants it to be (including having an awesome boyfriend), until the day that the boy next door returns.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

You know when you read a book and it just sucks all the breath right out of you? A book with prose so beautiful that it makes your chest tight and forces that little breath left in you out into soft sigh? This is the type of book that has left us feeling breathless; and we know it will have the same effect on you.The Scorpio Races happen at the beginning of every November, and marks the beginning of death for some. Because riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line; and some don’t live to make it. Sean is the young man of few words, and the returning champion. Puck is the only girl to ever enter the competition, but she’s not doing so because she wants to. And she is not prepared.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

You know that feeling you get, that trance-like quality, when you find yourself hanging onto every word? That’s what happens in this book. Gorgeous writing, imaginative world building, and beautiful imagery; complex characters; it’s all there. And if you think this story is just about angels and demons, then you’re sadly mistaken. Because Taylor is able to make the mythology her own; so much so that you wonder how you ever believed anything else. Karou is different; she has bright blue hair, speaks languages that aren’t human, and knows she is not normal. And she wants to find out the truth about herself; but will she regret finding out? Dark, gothic, scary, and wonderful, you’re sure to find yourself lost in this world that Taylor has created.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Beautiful, lovely, imaginative, impossible, atmospheric, and magical—there’s a reason why we chose this as the only adult title on our list. Within the black and white striped canvas tents of the mysterious circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, two young magicians duel. Amidst all the things wondrous and strange, surreal and exciting, Celia and Marco are pitted against one another. They have been trained for this game since childhood; and though romance begins to bloom between them, the game still awaits. Only one can be left standing; and the fates of everyone at the circus hangs in the balance. With beautiful prose and lush imagery, we couldn’t keep this book off our list! And we think you’ll be entranced.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

We love ourselves strong heroines, beautiful writing, and high epic fantasy. And with a gorgeous title like that, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a number of us adored this book. With stunning prose, sweeping imagery, a world so thoughtful and epic in scope, you’ll find everything you want in a fantasy. The younger of two princesses, Elisa doesn’t understand how she can be the chosen one. With a kingdom in turmoil, dark magic and savage enemies, and a revolutionary all wanting her for their own purposes, Elisa will find not only her life is at stake, but also her heart. This is a heroine who struggles with her self-worth, but is able to find the strength within herself. This is a lush story that will leave you wanting more.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Don’t let this cover fool you; this is not a fun, light, happy beach read. This is a story about family. And it is gritty and real and will probably make your heart ache a bit. Following a young man named Chase over four summers at his family’s beach house, this is a story about change.  And not just his change; but an entire family changing. Is there romance? A little bit. But it’s complicated. Is this story heartbreaking? Yes, because as the years pass, you see how desperately Chase wants everything to remain the same. Life goes on; people change. And families sometimes fall apart. It’s real, and harsh, and full of love and loss and hate and sadness. And it’s a wonderful read that we think hasn’t received enough attention or praise.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

It is rare to find a book so charming and delightful, so whimsical and nostalgic, and so achingly beautiful that it captures you from the very first page. Every so often such a book comes to be; and this is one of them. Every word and every sentence breathes a voice so clear, so lovely and fantastic and reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, that you’ll just find yourself in falling in love with the written word over and over again. This book is pure joy to read. You’ll wish that you could follow September around on her Fairyland adventures forever; you’ll dream of  book-loving Wyverns and flying leopards and enchanted woods. This is a must-read for everyone of all ages.

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Two young men from very different worlds find their paths intertwining in this spectacular high fantasy. This book is like a breath of fresh air in a market strewn with female protagonists and romance and love triangles. Switching between the POV of Ryder and Falpian, this is a fantasy that brings to life a wonderfully realized world of red witches, magic, religion, and prophecies. It is about struggle and conflict and secrets; and when Ryder’s village and coven is threatened, he will have to confront the things he’s never really believed in. Epic, action-packed, and absolutely stunning, this is one world you’ll want to immerse yourself in time and again.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Bittersweet and beautiful; that is how this book can be summed up. The writing is delightful and wondrous and makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. But of course, in a way you have; this is a story inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. And in this once upon a time, Jack and Hazel were best of friends; they were inseparable. But now they’re eleven, and things are different; and Hazel discovers that Jack’s heart has been frozen. So young Hazel does what a true friend would do; she ventures into the woods to free Jack from a woman dressed in ice who has taken him to live in a palace of ice. But journeys such as these can change even a girl of eleven and a boy with a frozen heart. Young Hazel is the perfect heroine; she will win your heart over and break your heart ever so slightly. Breadcrumbs is about loss, love, and growing apart; and it will make you want to hug the pages to your chest.

Runner Ups:

In typical Pub Crawl fashion, it turns out there were just far too many books we thought were the best of 2011 (apparently, we’re voracious readers with big, big hearts—and, you know, awesome taste!). So here are some of the titles that we thought deserved to be on the list, though they didn’t quite make it. Hope you see some books you’ve never heard about before (and add them to your TBR pile)!<


Honorable Mentions:

I know, I know… I said we decided not to include any titles by us Pub Crawl gals. But let’s be honest—how can we have a best of list, and not include the fantastic stuff by our own superstars? So forgive me, but I just have to give Mandy and Marie a bit of loving too!

And to celebrate our Top 10 list, we’re giving away a copy of Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (especially since we’re suckers for fairy tale retellings and such).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


57 Responses to Best Books of 2011

  1. Sooz Jan 27 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Wow! What a GREAT post–and with sooooo many good books! Holy crow, I realize just how behind I am on my 2011 reading… UH-OH. Library ahoy!

    It’s so terrible because most of the books I read last year *weren’t* pubbed last year!! BUT, in the spirit of the giveaway, I’ll add some of my own personal favorites (that aren’t already on the list!): Ilsa J. Bick’s ASHES, Cynthia Hand’s UNEARTHLY, and Jeanne Birdsall’s THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Thanks Sooz! 😀 I haven’t read all the titles on the list, either (I JUST picked up The Scorpio Races though!). A lot of my faves from last year were books pubbed in other years, too!

      I haven’t read ASHES, UNEARTHLY, or THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE – I’ll have to add them to my TBR pile!

  2. Von Peralta Jan 27 2012 at 6:18 am #

    All the books in the top ten list are all in my TBR list and wishlist. I really wanted to read them all but I’m time-constraint and had low budget. Thank God I’ve read quite beautiful books and at the same time my favorites, Divergent and Unearthly!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      You’ve got great taste then! 😛

      It’s definitely hard to keep up with all the great books coming out – my TBR pile is absolutely MASSIVE!

      And I’ve heard good things about DIVERGENT and UNEARTHLY!

  3. Joy Jan 27 2012 at 7:03 am #

    I really enjoyed The Night Circus.

  4. Laurie Dennison Jan 27 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Great choices! The Scorpio Races, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Divergent were all on my top lists for the year.

  5. Jasmine Stairs Jan 27 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Oh come on, that’s not a fair prompt at all! I’ve been known to get thousand-word blog posts out of that prompt! But fine, if you want a list, I can list things for you.

    My favourite books that were published in 2011 were Divergent by Veronica Roth, Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, Choices of One by Timothy Zahn, and Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:34 pm #


      I know, it’s a little unfair – but I DO love lists of people’s fave books!

      And it looks like DIVERGENT is a big fave among our readers! Maybe more of us Pub Crawl gals need to read it….

  6. Katelyn Larson Jan 27 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Maybe this is because I just read it, but I’m really in love with DIVERGENT. I thought it was fantastic, and I’m already anticipating when I can read it again. What better sign of good book is there than that? 😉

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      DIVERGENT seems to be a HUGE fave!

      And I totally agree! You know a book is good when you immediately want to read it again after finishing 😀

  7. Alyssa Jan 27 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Like Sooz, I’m way behind on my 2011 reading! Most of the books I read last year were published earlier, and for some reason 2011 was the Year of the Grown-Up for me. I read a lot of adult books as opposed to YA. That said, the best books I read were Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I also re-read The Giver for the first time since I was a kid and I loved revisiting that wonderful story. I feel like I always gain something new when reading a book I loved as a child again as an adult.

    My to-read pile is already sky-high and now it’s even bigger! I can’t wait to get started on some of these. 😀 As always, thanks for all the awesome recommendations!

    • Erin Bowman Jan 27 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Alyssa — I reread THE GIVER this year too!! I hadn’t read it since I was a child and it was so fun to relive that story with Jonas. The first snowfall he witnesses is a scene that will live with me forever! Great, great book.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      I always feel like I’m behind on my reading – probably because my to-read pile never gets smaller (it just keeps getting BIGGER!). I’ve always wanted to read NEVER LET ME GO – that’s been on my to-read pile for AGES!

      And you’re very welcome for the recommendations! 😀 (I personally LOVE recommendations – and simultaneously hate them, because I know it means I’ll be buying MORE books :p)

      • Alyssa Jan 28 2012 at 9:20 pm #

        I feel the EXACT same way about recommendations! I feel like my to-read pile is ever-growing while my wallet is ever-diminishing. 😛

        NEVER LET ME GO is amazing. It’s one of those books that reaches inside you and squeezes your heart. It’s beautiful and meaningful and absolutely heartbreaking.

        • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 30 2012 at 9:36 pm #

          Oh man – I LOVE a good heartbreaking book! I’m really going to try and pick up a copy of NEVER LET ME GO some time this year.

  8. kathy Jan 27 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Fun list! I loved Lola, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Variant. I need to read a lot of the rest of these. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read Breadcrumbs for a while.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      😀 Thanks Kathy!

      And doesn’t the cover for BREADCRUMBS just scream, “I’m a gorgeous read- pick me up NOW!”? 😉

  9. Dani Nguyen Jan 27 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I’m still catching up on 2011 releases but some of my favorites were Chime, The Gray Wolf Throne, Red Glove, and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Haven’t read Breadcrumbs yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Oooh! I’ve never heard of CHIME or THE GRAY WOLF THRONE! *runs off to check them out*

  10. Erin Bowman Jan 27 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Vanessa, this is a fantastic list!! (Of course, I should know this after all the emails us PC girls sent back and forth!) FAIRYLAND is now on my short list of MG favs. INVINCIBLE SUMMER was my sleeper pick of 2011 (so much awesome!). And SCORPIO, oh man. That book. I have so much love for it. Thanks for compiling this list 🙂

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      Aww, you’re very welcome, Erin! But I could NEVER have compiled this list if it wasn’t for all the awesome picks you girls sent me! 😀

      I’m putting INVINCIBLE SUMMER on my to-read list!

  11. Hannah Jan 27 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I can’t believe I haven’t read any of the books on your top 10 books of 2011!
    As for the best books in 2011? I really enjoyed Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I don’t think it actually came out in 2011, but I read it last year. Does that count?

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Hannah, you know what you have to do now, don’t you? You need to go out and pick up those books! 😉

      And a lot of us Pub Crawl ladies LOVED INCARCERON! And I think we can let it count!

  12. RikaAshton Jan 27 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Hi Vanessa! Great post! I’m having a major case of cover envy right now and I an’t wait to get my hands on the books I haven’t read yet.

    My favourite book of 2011 would have to be A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R. R. Martin. I squealed withexcitement when I got my hands on this book, lol!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks Rika!

      And I know, right? I love putting together posts with book covers – especially really PRETTY book covers! It just makes me smile.

      And OMG, how did we not include A DANCE WITH DRAGONS?!? (Well… I’m still a few books behind, so I haven’t picked the new one up yet – but it totally should’ve been included in that list!

  13. Samantha Wekstein Jan 27 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    My favorite book of 2011 was definitely Divergent by Veronica Roth. So intense!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 27 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      You’re not the only one who loved it!

      Almost makes me think I should’ve made a Top 11 list, just so it could have snuck in there 😉

  14. KariBradley7 Jan 27 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I adored Divergent. Veronic Roth can do no wrong in my eyes.

    I am in the middle of A Monster Calls and it’s just…special. That’s a special book. I love Patrick Ness.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      I have SO MUCH love for A MONSTER CALLS (and for anything Patrick Ness does – he’s just brilliant!)

  15. Redcrest Jan 27 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    No ‘Clockwork Prince?’ ;__;

    Still, great list! 🙂

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Sadly, no! I guess that means it should go on our to-read piles, huh? 😉

      And thanks!

  16. Asia M Jan 27 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Now that’s a long list of recommendations! I’ll try and pick some of them up for sure. 🙂

    I’ve read very few books that were published in 2011 (which is why I challenged myself to read more new books this year!)… The best ones of the lot had to be Her Son’s Hero, by Vicki Essex (Harlequin SuperRomance), No Proper Lady, by Isabel Cooper (Sourcebooks Casablanca), and Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels, by Sarah Wendell, aka Smart Bitch Sarah (Sourcebooks). Two first books are romance, the latter is nonfiction.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Hahaha! The list would’ve been even LONGER if I had added EVERY title we talked about when we discussed the books we all personally thought should be on there.

      I actually have a copy of Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell in my office! I’ve been meaning to read it!

  17. Marina Jan 27 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    I really liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and you’ve listed a few books that I still want to read, but I didn’t get to just yet.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:01 pm #

      I’m one of the few Pub Crawl girls who hasn’t yet read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS – and it sounds like my kind of book! So I’m hoping to pick up a copy soon!

  18. Vivien Jan 27 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    My favorite of the year were Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Ooooh! Forbidden looks like a difficult/heartbreaking read (and I like things that are heartbreaking!)

  19. Nhi Jan 27 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Well great guys, thanks a lot for reminding me of all the books that I have yet to read! Honestly, I feel like I’m the only person in the universe who hasn’t any of Stephanie Perkin’s work, or God forbid the 93759238758+ apparently stellar dystopian novels out there (can you believe I haven’t read the Hunger Games either? Clearly I have been living under a rock with Patrick Star all of this time).

    And to answer the question of favourite reads that were released in 2011 – that’s a bit hard to say because I read so few of those, and even fewer did I find some that didn’t compel me to want to hurl something across the roomyes, City of Fallen Angels – I am obviously singling you out here! But if I had to pick, it’d be The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong and Outside In by Maria V Snyder.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:09 pm #

      You haven’t read the HUNGER GAMES yet?!?!?

      You need to go out and read that ASAP! I know sometimes books with lots of hype don’t live up to your expectations, but…. HUNGER GAMES is AMAZING! Seriously! Please please please – at least pick up the first one!

  20. Chele Jan 27 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Ahh, half that list is on my TBR… and the other half just got added on to it! Clearly, I am miserably behind on my 2011 reading – not surprising, since I spent most of it catching up on 2010’s ;P

    Of the 2011 releases that I DID read, I gotta say DIVERGENT was my favourite. That, and SON OF NEPTUNE, but let’s face it – anything by Rick Riordan automatically makes my fav list <3

    ALSOOO, I finally got LEGEND yesterday! (Yes, part of my whole 'catching up with 2011 act', that) The bookstore had both US and UK covers, and you would not believe how long I stood there debating between the two ;D Ya'll need to show off the UK one a bit more, the badass-ness of it is EPIC (and you can guess which one I got in the end, lol)

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      OOOOH! That’s so awesome that you picked up LEGEND!

      And it looks like DIVERGENT is THE fave book in these comments! Maybe we should do a “Pub Crawl Reader’s Top 10 Books of 2011 list” 😉

      And I ALWAYS feel like I’m behind, too! There’s just too many books, and so little time!

  21. Zara Alexis Jan 28 2012 at 2:18 am #

    I really enjoyed “Glass Boys” by Nicole Lundrigan and “The Dovekeepers” by Alice Hoffman. I loved the sensitivity in which Nicole covered her controversial topic and the strong characters and historical fiction found in Alice Hoffman’s book.

    On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 28 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      I am a HUGE fan of Alice Hoffman (honestly – I wish I could write like her. She’s INCREDIBLE!). I’ve been meaning to pick up THE DOVEKEEPERS since it came out – I really want to read it!

  22. Melissa Montovani Jan 28 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Wow – the only one of these books that I read last year was Invincible Summer, and it was really great. I agree that it hasn’t gotten as much credit as it is due.

    Divergent was good, but it wasn’t my fave dystopian novel. Personally, Blood Red Road was my top pick for that genre. I also really loved Cecil Castellucci’s First Day on Earth, Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden, Cecelia Ahern’s The Book Of Tomorrow and Carol Lynch Williams’ Miles From Ordinary.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 30 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      BLOOD RED ROAD was on our runner-up list (I just didn’t include it in the post). All the other titles on your list I haven’t really heard of, so it looks like I’ll need to look up some books!

  23. elena Jan 29 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I was a big fan of Divergent and Demonglass!

  24. Chen Chang Jan 29 2012 at 8:55 pm #


  25. Juli Helms Jan 29 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway! 😀 My favorite book of 2011? THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. Definitely. 🙂

  26. Linda C. Jan 30 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Love the books on your list. Honestly, it’s so hard to choose favorites, but a couple are Anna and the French Kiss (a 201o pub, so I read it later) and Blood Red Road.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 30 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      I know, isn’t it? I never have just one favourite, for anything – books, video games, songs, you name it! It’s just so difficult to narrow it down to ONE. So my “favourite” lists are always SUPER long!

      And BLOOD RED ROAD was one of the titles that was a runner-up! I just didn’t add it to the post.

      • Linda C. Feb 1 2012 at 7:45 am #

        Haha, sounds just like me–I can NEVER pin down true favorites for ANYTHING!!

  27. Sarah S Jan 31 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I’ve been trying to catch up on all my reading so I don’t know that I’ve read many 2011 books. Must get on that. But on that note: thank you SO much for the recommendations — I love adding books to my TBR list because it makes me happy knowing that so many good books are waiting for me.

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