The Obligatory Best of 2011 List(s)

Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published in 2011 (Or Close Enough to 2011)

MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman

The Avian Gospels, Adam Novy

Spurious, Lars Iyer

The Third Reich, Roberto Bolaño

Humiliation, Wayne Koestenbaum

The Pale King, David Foster Wallace

Between Parentheses, Roberto Bolaño


Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published Before 2011

The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq

Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson

Expelled from Eden: A William Vollmann Reader

Ray, Barry Hannah

Trans-Atlantyk, Witold Gombrowicz

The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway

Light in August, William Faulkner

Hadji Murad, Leo Tolstoy

First Love and Other Sorrows, Harold Brodkey

Airships, Barry Hannah

Speedboat, Renata Adler

Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

Vertigo, W.G. Sebald


Best Rereading

Candide, Voltaire


Best Audiobook of 2011

The Collected Fictions of Gordon Lish, read by Gordon Lish


Best Film of 2011

The Tree of Life


Most Charming Film of 2011

Midnight in Paris


Most Overhyped Book of 2011

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach


Best Book Cover of 2011 


Best Book Series Design

Melville House’s Neversink Imprint



Weirdest (Yet Nevertheless Moving) Novel of 2011

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, Chris Boucher


Book I Read in 2011 That Still Confounds and Haunts Me

The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell


Saddest Book I Read in 2011

Tie: Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry; The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, Breece D’J Pancake


Best Essay (Print)

“Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary,” Lydia Davis (The Paris Review)


Best Essay (Online)

“Nude in Your Hot Tub, Facing the Abyss (A Literary Manifesto After the End of Literature and Manifestos),”  Lars Iyer (White Review)


Worst Literary Trend of 2011

Tie: Lame “literary fiction” novels; Articles that link everything to David Foster Wallace


Best Literary Trend of 2011



Most Obvious Disclaimer

I did not read or see or hear every book or essay or audiobook or film or TV show or record or video that came out in 2011. Also, there are some days left in the year. These are all, just like, opinions man.

7 thoughts on “The Obligatory Best of 2011 List(s)

  1. nice lists. barry hannah has been added to my 2012 reading list. loved tree of life. bon iver’s self-titled album is a good bet for someone who doesn’t want to invest a lot of time in listening to new music but wants to hear the best, and “holocene” would be a great nominee in a song/video category. can lana del rey win the angelina jolie-esque lips award of 2011?


  2. Over-hyped novel and you didn’t include 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami? I haven’t read the Art of Fielding and probably won’t; but 1Q84 which I abandoned after 150 pages, was painful.


  3. I loved the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and regret the precious hours I gave to After Dark (blessedly few), but the excerpt in the New Yorker really put me off 1Q84 (although I will try it at some point). Right now reading Amexica, thanks to you.


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