The Top 10 Books I Read This Year

I did a cumulative post about the books I have read this year in mid-November. However, I wanted to highlight my favourite reads of the bunch in fiction and non fiction. (Minus my client’s work, of course.) They did not all come out this year, but many did. Get a taste of my interests below!

My favourite fiction reads

ANNABEL by Kathleen Winter

This is literary Canadian fiction at its finest and it had a fantastic reception in the UK. From House of Anansi’s website: “In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Haunting, sweeping in scope, and stylistically reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ MiddlesexAnnabel is a compelling tale about one person’s struggle to discover the truth about their birth and self in a culture that shuns contradiction.” Twitter: @supremetronic

BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber

After hearing about this book at BookExpo America in the spring I was eager for the rest of the reading community to catch up with my excitement. From Norton’s website: “In the tropical paradise that is Miami, Avis and Brian Muir are still haunted by the disappearance of their ineffably beautiful daughter, Felice, who ran away when she was thirteen. This multilayered novel about a family that comes apart at the seams-and finds its way together again-is totally involving and deeply satisfying, a glorious feast of a book.” Twitter: @dabujaber

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book changed the way I think about fiction, especially speculative fiction, and the film adaptation was fantastic. I was late coming to this one, but I’m forever changed. From Random House: “From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.”

STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel

This was my latest read and again, not sure why it took so long for me to get to it, but I love the way it made me think about family, unconditional love and the way love and life plays out over the decades. From HarperCollins: “Against a vivid South Florida background, Susanna Daniel’s Stiltsville offers a gripping, bittersweet portrait of a marriage—and a romance—that deepens over the course of three decades. Called “an elegantly crafted work of art and a great read” by Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife, PrepStiltsville is a stunningly assured debut novel sure to appeal to readers of Anita Shreve, Sue Miller, and Annie Dillard, or anyone enchanted by the sultry magic of Miami.” Twitter: @susannadaniel

THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffery Eugenidies

I am new to Eugenidies as this was the first book of his I read (he wrote THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and MIDDLESEX). It is one of the best books of 2011 in my opinion. From Random House: “The triangle in this amazing and delicious novel about a generation beginning to grow up is age old, and completely fresh and surprising. With devastating wit, irony and an abiding understanding and love for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides resuscitates the original energies of the novel while creating a story so contemporary that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.”

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

This book has been much-hyped, but it lived up to all expectations for me. What a delight! And a book that’ll take you away… From Random House: “In this mesmerizing debut, a competition between two magicians becomes a star-crossed love story. The circus arrives at night, without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within nocturnal black and white striped tents awaits a unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stand awestruck as a tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and gaze in wonderment at an illusionist performing impossible feats of magic.” Twitter: @erinmorgenstern

My favourite non fiction reads


Very funny. Quick read. What more do you need over the holidays? From Hachette: “At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy. (Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)”


This book kept me up laughing late into the night. If you are lover of THE OFFICE, you’ll want to read this and give it for holiday gifts. From Random House: “Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.” Twitter: @mindykaling

STEVE JOBS by Walter Issacson

I am not a scientific person, or know much about computers, but I can appreciate the aesthetic that Jobs created with his Apple lineage. This book was absolutely fascinating. From Simon and Schuster: “Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.”

ARRIVAL CITY by Doug Saunders

I love urban geography. My alternative career was going to be an urban planner so this book was the ultimate fascination to me. From Doug’s website: “What will be remembered about our century, more than anything except perhaps changes to the climate, is the final shift of human populations from agricultural life to cities, the effects of which are being felt around the world. Arrival City gives us an on-the-ground view of this phenomenon—from Maryland to Shenzhen, from the favelas of Rio to the shanty towns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi.” Twitter: @dougsaunders

All images from subsequent publishers’ websites.

I love hearing from you. What are your favourite reads this year?

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

5 thoughts on “The Top 10 Books I Read This Year

  1. Loved, loved, loved “The Art of Fielding” and “The Marriage Plot”. Absolutely the two best books I’ve read this year, the kind where you want to ration pages because you don’t want the experience to end, yet you greedily keep reading because you just can’t stop. Also absolutely loved “The Imperfectionists”. I was stunned by the fabulous writing in “A Visit From the Goon Squad”, but got distracted by something and didn’t finish it, I need to do that! I have to say, I started “The NIght Circus”, but lost interest – just not my thing, I’m afraid. I read “Never Let Me Go”, but had a feeling of “Yeah, but so what?” when I finished it. Just goes to show what individual tastes readers have. I’d also started “Birds of Paradise”, but found it a bit too “pat”, perhaps trying a bit too hard, at least in the opening chapters . . .I was on the fence about it, but maybe I’ll go back and give it another go.


    1. That’s interesting that some books I couldn’t put down you were on the fence about. That’s what literature is all about! I also loved The Imperfectionists. I never got around to The Art of Fielding, but it was on my ‘to be read’ list.

      Personal tastes are always a conversation starter!


      1. I think you’ll find “The Art of Fielding” very much in the same style as “The Marriage Plot”; the same attractions of delightful, ironic humor, unforgettable characters and love triangles. And rest assured, the publisher was correct in the cover design, because it is most certainly “the ‘baseball book” that is NOT about baseball!


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