This is just a quick post before it becomes too late to write it! I have three stand-out books of the year amongst the newly published and four favourites amongst the long tail, and here they are:
Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes is my book of the year. It is unspeakably lovely and you can read my review here.
Edward Hogan and Jude Morgan were my favourite discoveries this year. The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan was a great pleasure and was probably my second favourite book of those published this year. His Blackmoor however is going to go into my Top Ten Books of the Last Ten Years when I get a moment to update the list. I read Morgan's The Taste of Sorrow and Passion and Passion is one of my favourites from the already-published pile.
The last of the 2011 publications that blew my socks off was one of the last I reviewed: The Ascent of Isaac Steward by Mike French. Original. Amazing. Do give it a go.
Of the long tail I also loved The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby and published by the lovely Persephone, but my very favourite of the older pre-2011 publications was The Youngest Miss Ward: A Jane Austen Entertainment by Joan Aiken. It is not really a sequel to Mansfield Park but a very creative spin off, inventive and with some wonderful characters.
So to summarise:
Juxtabook's Best 2011 Books:
Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes
The Ascent of Isaac Steward by Mike French
The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan
Juxtabook's Best Books Read in 2011 and published earlier:
Blackmoor by Edward Hogan
Passion by Jude Morgan
The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby
The Youngest Miss Ward: A Jane Austen Entertainment by Joan Aiken
It has been surprisingly hard to pick these books. Taking the long view, as I very much do selling used books, it seems to me that the literary novel is in fine strength, remaining as innovative and entertaining as it ever has been. Whether that can be said to be reflected in the major literary prizes is another matter!
Thank you all for sticking with me during this weak blogging year, and I wish you all, customers, fellow bloggers and fellow booksellers, twitter friends and those quiet readers who never comment, a very Happy and Book-filled New Year!