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June 30, 2011 / Leslie

5 Best Books … of 2011 (so far)

Cassandra at Indie Reader Houston hosts 5 Best Books, a weekly meme that asks participants to list what they consider the 5 best books on a given topic.

This week’s topic is
5 Best Books … of 2011 (so far).

I’ve read 31 books through the first half of this year. These are my favorites (so far) and are books that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone. Click on the cover for my review.

You Know When The Men Are GoneYou Know When The Men Are Gone
by Siobhan Fallon

A beautifully written slender volume of short stories centering around the wives of deployed soldiers based at Ft. Hood, Texas. The stories are loosely related involving different families and different situations, but with a common thread running throughout. It’s a wonderful book, a compelling look into the personal relationships of the men and women in the military, and I highly recommend it.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

This superbly written work of narrative non-fiction is the story of the most famous cells in medical research and of the woman behind them. These cells were instrumental in allowing scientists to create the polio vaccine, cloning and eventually in mapping the human genome. The cells had become virtually immortal and indispensable in scientific research. This book was released in 2010 and most people have probably heard of it by now. If not, you don’t want to miss it. It’s that good. And no science background by the reader is needed.

Shanghai Girls
by Lisa See

This was released last year and I finally got around to reading it now that the sequel, Dreams of Joy, is available. This historical novel about sisters Pearl and May Chin is beautifully written. The sisters were born into a family of wealth and prosperity in 1930′s Shanghai and live a carefree, glamorous life until their father gambles away the family money and sells the sisters into marriages neither of them want. The wonderful descriptive prose made the story come alive as we follow the journey of the sisters to America and into their new lives.

Doc: A Novel
by Mary Doria Russell

I rarely read westerns but I loved this book. When people familiar with the American Old West hear the name John Henry “Doc” Holliday, it brings to mind the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or Wyatt Earp and his brothers. The gunfight that made Doc famous lasted only 30 seconds but that is what most people remember about him. In her new novel, Doc, Mary Doria Russell gives us another view drawing on historical facts, legends, research and her imagination in a fictionalized account of one year in the life of Doc Holliday. The old west, Doc Holliday and all the supporting characters vividly come to life.

Map Of TimeMap of Time
by Felix J. Palma

I just finished reading this and will have the review up soon. The story has several interrelated plots involving H.G. Wells, murder and incidents of time-travel. It’s not what thought it would be at all. I was expecting science fiction and it’s not. It’s historical fiction, mystery, romance, adventure and a little fantasy set in Victorian London. It’s original, unique and thoroughly enjoyable.

Link up your 5 best books at Indie Reader Houston. The meme runs through July 2nd.


Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Jun 30 2011 7:22 pm

    Leslie, I have read only one from your list, Shanghai Girls, which I thought was terrific. It’s hard to believe this year is already half over. I’m not sure which books would be on my “top 5” list for 2011.


  2. Elizabeth / Jun 30 2011 8:05 pm

    The only one I have read from your list is: You Know When The Men are Gone. The others look so good.

    My top five books I read are:

    1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    2. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
    3. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
    4. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
    5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

    The first four are brand new publications.

    THANKS for the GREAT POST. Love it.


    • Leslie / Jun 30 2011 8:54 pm

      I enjoyed Lost in Shangri-La a lot. It was difficult to only choose 5 books. I’ll be reading The Language of Flowers soon and quite a few people loved it.


  3. Cassandra Neace / Jun 30 2011 9:33 pm

    I’ve got Map of Time on the shelf, and I’m dying to read Henrietta Lacks! I end up with such a wishlist after looking at everyone’s list. I’m so glad you’re participating! So good to have you!


  4. michelle / Jul 1 2011 8:20 am

    I’ve read Shanghai’d Girls and agree. I’m anxious to read Doc, Henrietta Lacks, and The Map of Time (which is already in my pile).


  5. Leeswammes / Jul 1 2011 8:57 am

    I’ve had my eyes on Map of Time but wasn’t really sure about it. You make me want to read it! Henrietta Lacks has been on my TBR for a while now – I MUST read this! It sounds like a really good book. My 5-best is up tomorrow (I hope I won’t forget to link up).


    • Leslie / Jul 2 2011 2:00 am

      I think you’ll like Map of Time and Henrietta Lacks really is a must-read. I listened to the audiobook but I’m sure the paper version was just as good.


  6. TheBookGirl / Jul 1 2011 1:32 pm

    I also loved Shanghai Girls…I have only read two 5-star books this year — The Four Ms. Bradwells and Faith. Not sure what my other three would be…


    • Leslie / Jul 2 2011 2:00 am

      Both of those are on my to-read list. Glad to hear they are 5 star books!


  7. Colleen / Jul 1 2011 7:11 pm

    I thought You Know When the Men Are Gone was very good and it opened my eyes to military life and how much is really sacrificed.


  8. Bookfool, aka Nancy / Jul 2 2011 6:24 pm

    You Know When the Men Are Gone is way up on my favorites list, too. I should do a post like this – love the idea. We just traveled (to your country) with an army major and I kept thinking of what it must have been like for his wife, staying home while he was gone for so many years. I read the book not long before we left, so I couldn’t help but compare the stories with those he shared. Still haven’t reviewed this one, but it’s stuck with me.


  9. Bookfool, aka Nancy / Jul 2 2011 7:45 pm

    Silly me, I was looking at another link. Don’t know what country you’re in. I had you confused with someone else. Incidentally, I’ve been flipping through your bird photos and they are truly wonderful!


    • Leslie / Jul 2 2011 9:01 pm

      I’m in the USA, more specifically the Chicago area. Most of the bird photos are local. Glad you like them.


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