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A Crack in Everything: The Best of 2011

This time last year, I characterized 2010 as my most difficult year ever.  2011 was much better: still hard, but with lots of good stuff, too. I don't regret the trials I've experienced over the past two years. Looking back, I am reminded of those lines from Leonard Cohen's "Anthem": "There is a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in." I've been blessed with many glimpses of light in past months, which means I have to be grateful for those cracks, right?

Anyway, here are my highlights of the past year.

Best Books Read:

This year, I’ve decided to rank only books I read for the first time (no re-reads, as in years past). I’m also only ranking books by writers whom I don’t know personally.

1. The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

2. A Dance with Dragons, By George R. R. Martin

3. Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, by Wendy Watson Nelson

4. Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card

5. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua

6. Matched, by Ally Condie

7. The Healing Spell, by Kimberley Griffiths Little

8. Little Elvises, by Tim Hallinan

9. Sweater Quest, by Adrienne Martini

10. Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder

Now I’ll list some outstanding books written by people I do know.  These are in no particular order—but they’re all worth your time.

Band of Sisters, by Annette Lyon

Keep Mama Dead, by S. James Nelson

I Don’t Want to Kill You, by Dan Wells

Not My Type, by Melanie Jacobson

The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner

Pumpkin Roll, by Josi Kilpack

Variant, by Rob Wells

Special Mention: Unwound, by Lee Ann Setzer—This book isn’t published yet. Lee Ann is in my critique group, so I got the immense privilege of reading this YA historical fantasy a few weeks ago. What. A. Joy.  Definitely one of the best books I read this year. My prediction: Lee Ann is the next Shannon Hale. Remember, you read it here first.

Best Music Purchased:

1. “Noisy Birds” (and so many other fantastic tracks), by Fictionist

1. “The Bird Song” (and the rest of the new record), by The Wailin’ Jennys

1. “Born on a New Day,” by The King’s Singers

4. “Sweet Bells” by Kate Rusby

5. “This Little Light of Mine,” by The Lower Lights

6. “You’re My Best Friend,” by The Once

7. “Baby We Were Young,” by The Dirty Guv’nahs

Best Movies Seen (I am wayyyy behind on movie viewing right now):

1. Jane Eyre

2. Midnight in Paris

3. Harry Potter 7.2

4. Super 8

5. Moneyball

6. The Help

7. Cowboys and Aliens

8. The Adjustment Bureau

9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Most Disappointing Movie:


2011 Movies on my To See List (See? Wayyy behind):

We Bought a Zoo


The Adventures of Tintin

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Kung Fu Panda 2

Queen to Play

The Tree of Life

Dream House

Yarn of the Year: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Woobu in the Ravenscroft colorway

Best Meals Eaten:

1. Private party at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

2. Craft, NYC

3. Maze, NYC

4. Thanksgiving Dinner, Cold Spring, NY

5. Em’s, Salt Lake City, UT

6. Café Cluny, NYC

7. Bernard’s Inn, Ridgefield, CT

8. Keens Steakhouse, NYC

9. Shake Shack, Citifield, Queens, NY

10. Valley, Garrison, NY

Best Theatre of the Year:

MusicalHugh Jackman: Back on Broadway—DIVINE.

PlayThe Mountaintop, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett—TRANSCENDENT.

ConcertGreat Big Sea—AGAIN and ALWAYS.

Reader Comments (9)

I was going to recommend Midnight in Paris. We watched it the other night and fell in love with it. Owen Wilson as a Woody Allen character was just wonderful, and the name dropping gag never got old. It is magical!

I love your list and now have a great reading list for next year.
Happy New Year to you and yours!!

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

You have the coolest life that you can even make these lists every year, I swear. I always look forward to them. We have a few books, movies, and songs in common....and I just downloaded the Kate Rusby "Sweet Bells" song. I adore Kate Rusby. And you.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

I never in a million years thought that something I wrote would end up on one of your lists. *happy sniff*

I need to knit more often so I could add a yarn to my faves.

As always, love the year wrap-up post.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

Karen, we watched Midnight in Paris just now, and I have updated my list to include it! LOVED IT.

December 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterLuisa Perkins

*Happily sniffing* with Annette!

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLee Ann

I see myself writing a post like this a year from now, with TWO of your books on my list. It makes me all kinds of happy.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Ooh, I like being on your list!

Also, Way of Kings? I couldn't get into at first like I have other Sanderson books. Then by the end it BLEW my mind. Like other Sanderson books. I thought I would shatter from the awesomeness.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Jacobson

I love Lee Ann. She is an amazing writer with so much skill and I totally agree with you about her. She's an amazing writer~!!!!!! And it was fun to see your lists. I'm waaaay behind too on everything. But way behind means there is stuff to look forward to :) and I love the line from Anthem. That is a great reminder. You're awesome.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie wright

Yeah, I was disappointed by Hanna too! Nothing like what I thought it would be from the previews.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Moore

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