November 28th, 2011 / 1:44 pm

My List of Books From 2011

Because it’s that time again. My personal list of favorite books from 2011, or some books I found to be particularly significant, insightful, brilliant, masterful, enjoyable, notable. In no particular order.

Dream Memoirs of a Fabulist – by Doug Rice (Copilot Press, 2011)
“She moved, like any other apparition, from darkness to light. It’s what makes a photograph possible.” – Read my review of it here.



Compression & Purity – by Will Alexander (City Lights, 2011)
Another one from prolific surrealist poet Will Alexander.
“I am never given due as to sum or proportion / I am seen as the source of something leprous / as no longer the motive of who I was thought I was shaped to be.”



I Fell in Love With a Monster Truck (PARROT 8) – by Amanda Ackerman (Insert Press, 2011)
This book gave me so much pleasure, I’m not even sure how to describe it. Plus the drawings. I love Amanda’s writing. &, if you aren’t already familiar with the PARROT series, you should be. It’s a brilliant and beautiful set of chapbooks. Some of the earlier titles are sold out, but many more are on the way.



By Kelman Out of Pessoa – by Doug Nufer (Les Figues Press, 2011)
A wonderfully pleasant literary experiment circling around the horse races.
“Consider art a complex betting game in which participants—artists, critics, audiences, institutions—wager both money and reputations but must pretend, for the sake of decorum, that no bets are being placed. By Kelman suggest that our (false) modesty cannot conceal the speculative nature of the enterprise—suggests, too, that the size of the wages matters less than their import to the participants’ lives.” – from the introduction by Louis Bury



The Vicious Red Relic, Love – by Anna Joy Springer (Jaded Ibis Press, 2011)
“Anna Joy Springer’s The Vicious Red Relic, Love is a gnarly siren song of a book for those so ambitiously thankful. Categorized as a fabulist memoir, the book unfolds by way of diary entries, scrawled school lecture notes, shit-smeared dollhouse worlds called “metaforests,”…  Slistynopology (brainchild of an Enron Scabbard) cult literature, collaged drawings, and a tiny tinfoil elephant named Blinky.” – From Gina Albekop’s review. Read the rest of the review here.



The Avian Gospels – by Adam Novy (Short Flight/Long Drive Books, 2010)
I’ve had these books sitting on my “to-read” pile for awhile now, and after seeing him read last week, finally decided to dig into them. A powerfully gorgeous and religious novel. One of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in awhile.
“It is we who are doomed, and you who are released, we who, spirit-corpses, toil beneath the living, brandishing our phantom-knives at plethoras of nothing, and you who see the Earth from above, clenched and pulsing, like a sparrow’s heart.” – from Part 1.



The Chronology of Water – by Lidia Yuknavitch (Hawthorne Books, 2011)
This book changed the way I think about memoirs. Utterly beautiful and devastating at the same time.





Bluets – by Maggie Nelson (Wave Books, 2009)
I also read this one late, and was really struck by the preciseness of her language.
“For no one really knows what color is, where it is, even whether it is. (Can it die? Does it have a heart?) Think of a honeybee, for instance, flying into the folds of a poppy: it sees a gaping violet mouth, where we see an orange flower and assume that it’s orange, that we’re normal.”



The Invention of Morel – by Adolfo Bioy Cesares (NYRB Classics, 2003)
The classic masterpiece considered to be the inspiration behind Last Year in Marienbad.
“The Invention of Morel may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel… Bioy Cesares’s theme is not cosmic, but metaphysical: the body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom.” – Octavio Paz.




The Book of Interfering Bodies – by Daniel Borzutsky (Nightboat Books, 2011)
One of my favorite books of the year. “Son do not murmur the names of the dead because if you murmur the names of the dead you will ruin the poetry of death.”




It It Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Work by Women Artists & Writers (Siglio Press, 2011)

A truly brilliant collection. Read this great review of the anthology by Eileen Myles.




& also…


Schizophrene – by Bhanu Kapil (Nightboat Books, 2011)

The Source – By Noah Eli Gordon (Futurepoem, 2011)

Zeno’s Conscience – by Italo Sveno (Vintage Books, 2001)

Zippermouth – by Laurie Weeks (The Feminist Press, 2011)

1Q84 – by Haruki Murakami (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011)

The Last Books of Héctor Viel Temperley – Translated by Stuart Krimko (Sand Paper Press, 2011)

The Philosophy of Surrealism – by Ferdinand Alquié (University of Michigan, 1969)

Come And See – by Fanny Howe (Graywolf Press, 2011)

The Sense of an Ending – by Julian Barnes (Knopf, 2011)

Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language (Gestalten, 2011)

Habibi – by Craig Thompson (Pantheon, 2011)



& a ton of other books but let’s stop here…




What were some of your favorite books of 2011?
What were your must-reads?

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  1. Anne Smith

      A great list, some of which I have read and a few I have never even heard of.

      Sharing a reader’s resource: The Book Report is a radio show with reviews, author interviews and readings – lots of fun and interesting. Check out for station list and times of broadcast.

  2. Anonymous

      In no order:

      Short Dark Oracles by Sara Levine
      Beauty Was the Case They Gave Me by Mark Leidner
      The Trees The Trees by Heather Christle
      Compliments, Of Us by Heather Palmer
      Ayiti by Roxane Gay
      Big Questions by Anders Nilsen

  3. alex crowley

      yeah, the Leidner and Christle are both fantastic. and Heather’s already got another one coming out soon!

  4. gina

      obviously i agree about ‘the vicious red relic, love’! but also,

      green girl- kate zambreno
      the trees the trees- heather christle
      the metropolis case- matthew gallaway
      bossypants- tina fey

  5. Tummler

      In no particular order:

      Best Behavior – Noah Cicero
      Disantropy – Timo Tuhkanen
      I LOVE MUSIC – Steve Roggenbuck and Stephen Tully Dierks
      wikipedia says it will pass – Diana Salier
      Desiree – Andrew Worthington
      POMES @ ex-ex-lit – Billy Bob Beamer
      Calibration – Keith Higginbotham
      a million bears – Spencer Madsen
      ‘the romantic’ – Poncho Peligroso
      DAY BOOK – Hugh Tribbey
      The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense – Tim Kinsella
      We Live Inside You – Jeremy Robert Johnson [haven’t actually read it yet but it seems so promising]

  6. bartleby_taco

      including either recent releases, reprints or translations that have come out in the last 2 or so years that I read in 2011, no order:

      The Literary Conference – Cesar Aira
      Bad Nature – Javier Marias
      The Suitcase – Sergei Dovlatov
      While The Women Are Sleeping – Javier Marias
      A Splendid Conspiracy – Albert Cossery
      The Marbled Swarm – Dennis Cooper
      Pornografia – Witold Gombrowicz
      Never Any End To Paris – Enrique Vila-Matas
      How To Write A Sentence – Stanley Fish
      Between Parenthesis – Robeto Bolano
      Suicide – Eduard Leve
      The Seamstress & The Wind – Cesar Aira
      What Ever Happened To Modernism? – Gabriel Josipovici
      Person/The No Hellos Diet/Hurt Others – Sam Pink
      Kornel Esti – Deszö Kosztolányi
      Purgatory – Raul Zurita
      The Museum of Eterna’s Novel – Macedonio Fernandez
      The Leviathan – Joseph Roth
      Leaving the Atocha Station – Ben Lerner
      just started Third Reich yesterday so I don’t know but maybe

  7. Neil Griffin

      It’s too early for lists! There’s a lot to read in a month.

  8. Janice Lee

      Raul Zurita’s Purgatory is a great one, should have had that one on my list too.

  9. Notable Books – 2011 | Janice Lee
  10. Anonymous

       Yes.  I forgot to add Suicide to my list.  And I need to finish The No Hellos Diet.

  11. deadgod

      It’s Svevo.

      Capsule review of the Howe poems?  (In the Middle of Nowhere is a favorite novel of mine.)