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2011 Year in Books

1. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Literature. Satire.

‘I saw something nasty in the woodshed!’

‘Did it see you?’

2. At Home by Bill Bryson. Non-fiction. Pretty much defies categorizing.

“Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

3. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. Non-fiction. Memoir.

“The petal started to disappear at a barely discernible rate. I listened carefully. I could hear it eating. The sound was of someone very small munching on celery continuously.”

4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Fantasy. Historical.

He had begun to wonder why the great feats of magic that he read about remained on the pages of his book and were no longer seen in the street or written about in the newspapers. Mr. Segundus wished to know, he said, why modern magicians were unable to work the magic they wrote about. In short, he wished to know why there was no more magic done in England.”

5. The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.

“Goats,” said Maxwell Hyde, “are a special case. Mad as hatters, all of them.”

6. Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. Young Adult. Fantasy.

“Besides, if you’re going to die horribly, you might as well do it with style.”

7. 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald Tobias. Writing.

“The shelves of libraries are stacked with the stories of centuries, but out in the street, the air swarms with newly made fiction.”

8. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy. Children’s. (re-read)

“I could go and play bad fairy at my own christening if I wanted. Maybe I did and that’s my trouble.”

9. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy. Children’s. (re-read)

“It was confusing and exasperating the way Chrestomanci would seem friendly when one ought to have been in disgrace.”

10. The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy. Children’s. (re-read)

“He wondered how long it would be before someone in the castle noticed he had lost another life.”

11. Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy. Children’s. (Short Stories)

“Even the invisible dragons that lived in the rivers had their invisible lines of demarcation.”

12. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. Young Adult.

“That’s the trouble with a brain–it thinks more than you sometimes want it to.”

13. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. Young Adult.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So t hat you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

14. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. Young Adult.

“Yes, she’d made a mistake. Yes, it was her fault. But she wasn’t going to be bullied. You couldn’t let boys go around raining on your lava and ogling other people’s watercolors.”

15. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Physics. Cosmology.

“What we’ve long thought to be the universe is only one component of a far grander, perhaps far stranger, and mostly hidden, reality.”

16. Flush by Carl Hiaasen. Young adult. Mystery.

“What can I say? I needed a lady with a big heart and a valid driver’s license.”

17. The Infernals by John Connolly. Young adult. Fantasy/horror.

“Most adults have a hard time imagining that small boys, or dachshunds, could possibly be superior to them in any way.”

18. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. Literature. Short stories.

“She would of been a good woman,” said The Misfit, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

19. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. Memoir.

“It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away.”

20. The Daily Zoo Volume 1 by Chris Ayres. Illustration. Memoir.

21. The Daily Zoo Volume 2 by Chris Ayres. Illustration. Memoir.

22. Practical Watercolor Painting by Gerald Woods. Art (technique).

23. I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away by Bill Bryson

“I once joked in a book that there are three things you can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again. Since the spring of 1995, I have been quietly reassessing point number three.”

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