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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Best Books I Read in 2011

It's time for my annual "Best Books I Read Last Year" list, this time featuring 13 works of poetry, novels, nonfiction and anthology. As usual, these books didn't necessarily come out in 2010; that's just when I read them. This year, you should too. [Click on the picture to find out more about the book.] Happy reading!


Goyette’s imagery is evocative, precise, tangible yet layered with meaning:

I'm beyond biased here because I've got two poems in this anthology of Halifax guerilla poetry, and I like the idea so much I've written a feature about it. But I was genuinely impressed by the quality of work from my town's closet poets:


Rogers elucidates how the failures of "green" or "natural" capitalism are the failings of capitalism itself:

Paradoxically dense and sprawling, but worth the effort. You know when people say, "This is how the world really works!" Well, this is part of it:

It's actually a novel interspersed among reflections on a campaign to ban uranium mining in Nova Scotia. I never quite figured out how they fit together, but the former is engaging and entertaining and the latter is inspirational and thought-provoking:


Rushdie, having accomplished everything a writer could hope for, seems to be just having fun now. And it's a lot of fantastical fun to read too:

This novel was a rollicking fantastic adventure through the idealism of the 60s and the coming of age bestowed by Vietnam. Above all, it had an enormous sense of wonder:

Counter-intuitive to the title, for me these stories resonate with the sad truth of being a grownup:

MacDonald is a natural story teller and he connected all the emotional dots, providing a poignant tale of cultural change, the erosion of old ways and the maturation of young talent and pride:

The lady dialing 911 for love with all the wrong paramedics, the crack-addicted mathematician scoring rock for Robert Oppenheimer, the single condo-dwelling web designer more easily accepting the flaws of his Andalucian woolfhound than those of human companions – all serve Christie well as he masterfully illustrates the interwoven highs and lows of urban isolation:

Takes you right there, with the protagonists, feeling their fears, anxieties, pain and stress:

This is a good old-fashioned slog that probably wouldn't be published in the modern Canlit scene. It's prose is poetry and it's best scenes are heart-wrenching. In its entirety it is an unforgettable, honest portrait of rural life, its hardship and its absolute dependence on community even when community gets nasty:

Once again I'm totally biased because I have a short story in this one. But once again I was genuinely impressed to find myself in such accomplished company: