Best of 2011: The Books! [FaN Cheers]

Yay! It’s finally here. Our yearly round-up of the stuff we just loved and the dreck we absolutely hated. The big surprise of this year was just how much our Fierce and Nerdy bloggers agreed … except when it came to our Worst Book picks (more on that tomorrow). As always, we also have some fun best ofs that are other people’s worst ofs. On a sidenote: I honestly suspect that Jersey Joe picks his favorite song of the year with full on knowledge that many of his fellow blogumnists will hate it. Find out what song is hated by almost everyone but him next week. Meanwhile, let’s start the year off with our favorite books of 2011.

Ernessa Says: This was a terrible year for having to pick a favorite book, because so many great ones came out. THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman*, SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones, and A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD all made it onto my Top 5 Reads of the Year list, but the top spot goes to READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. Simply put, if you are a nerd, you will balls-to-the-wall adore this book. And I’m not the only one who’s completely in love with this rare gem of a novel…

 *I almost didn’t include Grossman after that recent TIME magazine article, in which he admitted that he was only looking forward to books by fellow white males in 2012 — which is just ridiculous. But MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is on my list of favorite movies of the year, so I figured if Woody gets a pass this year, so does Grossman. Still on the fence about reading his next book, though. 


READY PLAYER ONE. I read this book in 4 days it’s the best book I have read in years could not put it down.
CH from CH’s Picture of the Day


1.  READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline  I have not had that much fun reading a book since the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony when I was 11.  And this one didn’t even have bizarre sex scenes involving Death and Mother Nature.

2.  THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morganstern.  Never have I read a book that made me wish so fervently that the place it described was real.
Michael Kass from Single White Nerd


A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan. The fact that, after heartily recommending this book to friends and colleagues, and being asked “what’s it about” I didn’t have an answer except possibly, “Growing up…?” but on reading it I was entranced, I learned so much from Egan, and for a couple of weeks, it made my writing better.

Gudrun Cram-Drach from Secret Life of an Expat


While the snobbish side of me (a not insignificant percentage) wants to say James Joyce’s Ulysses, no other book gave me more pleasure than Jennifer Eagen’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD. While many of the authors following in Joyce’s very big footprints write novels that share Ulysses’ bulk, Eagen somehow managed to play all the necessary post-modernist games in a tight, endlessly entertaining package. A perfect gem of a novel

Ryan Dixon, FIERCE ANTICIPATION editor and writer of The Ryan Dixon Line


Alas, there are so many books I have not yet read from previous years that it’s impossible to catch up to books being released this year (I wrote a column praising late adopting, after all Even though I think it was published in 2010, I’ll jump on the bandwagon of Jennifer Egan’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD. It was not the only newer book I read, but it was the only one I liked (and quite a bit).
Joe Rusin from On the Contrary


A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD - Jennifer Egan. Egan reminded me how much I adored New York in my 20s and how hard it was to leave behind when I got older. This is a beautiful book about the relentless cruelty of passing time and the evergreen mercy of second chances. Kudos to the dude in our book club who picked this one out — oh, wait, it was me. I’m awesome!

Eric Sims from California Seething


GO THE F**K ASLEEP by Adam Mansbach – Forget “Pat the Bunny.” This one is my new go-to baby shower gift.

Sarah Fazeli from Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered

THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss.  A classic tale of capitalism versus the environment, only it rhymes.  They should make it into a movie.  Oh wait, they are.  They should make it into a good movie…
Josh Pullin from Stay-at-Home Dad


THE LAST DAYS OF PTOLEMY GREY by Walter Mosley. Spending 400 pages with the aging, dilapidated, nonagenarian Ptolemy Grey was one of the most engaging and inspiring things I did this year.

R. B. Ripley from Hyperbolic Tendencies


If it’s a book released this year, my award would go to MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. Can’t wait for the sequel. BUT, I was really moved by BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett, even though I didn’t want to be. (I know, it came out in 2002) Assuming it was for opera buffs, I thought I wouldn’t get it. Boy, did I get it. It was one of those books where I missed the characters after I finished. She’s a really good writer.

Amy Robinson, Blogumnist Editor and writer of Tall Drink of Nerd




THE ART OF STEAMPUNK by Art Donovan. The most beautiful and comprehensive collection of Steampunk Art I have seen to date. This book is a great inspiration for designers, craftsmen, the Steampunk aficionado, or anyone just curious about it. A must have for anybody who loves this design movement as much as I do!

Zack Bunker from Tall Glass of Shame and Runway Rundown


BOSSYPANTS, Bossypants, Bossypants by Tina Fey!!!  Second favorite: THE PSYCHOPATH TEST by Jon Ronson.  I like to laugh and also live in fear.

Roya Hamadani from Fierce Foodie


1999: VICTORY WITHOUT WAR by Richard Nixon.  Amazed that I chose this?  Not as amazed as I was finding Nixon’s face jumping off of the book shelf in a New York City Upper East Side bar.  Why was it there?  I have no idea, but it made for some hilarious commentary and entertainment for the group I was with…

Jersey Joe from Kicking Back with Jersey Joe


I really liked DESIGN* SPONGE AT HOME by Grace Bonney. This book collects eye candy from her blog, one that I look at on a weekly basis. It is nice to have it in book form for perusal.
Missy Kulik from Dork Lifesyle


RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner This book is the definitive catalog of the destructive marriage between Washington and Wall Street. Starting in the early 1990′s, it details exactly how the financial meltdown of 2008 came to fruition from a sober, “just-the-facts” perspective. Anyone occupying tents outside of a government building needs to have read this.



This may not be from this year but I usually only read plays, so here was my favorite book, ZEITOUN by Dave Eggers. It was one of those nonfiction books that made me check the back to see if it was actually true.

Matt Udvari from Gamer by Design


No shocker here; Patton Oswalt’s ZOMBIE SPACESHIP WASTELAND. Equal parts hilarious bit and introspective biography, it’s everything you’d expect from a book from the notable comedian… and more. My favorite, as a writer, was the bit “Punch Up Notes” detailing one producers insane notes on a draft of a movie.




THE BOOK OF MORMON  (the musical)

Patrick Connolly from Piping Hot Nerd: Adventures of a Bagpiper Mastering Manhattan


Well, since I didn’t get through any single book in it’s entirety this year, I’ll have to substitute The New Yorker for my choice. If you can keep up with it, The New Yorker will be your bible for everything and anything that is important in our world today. A grandiose statement? A grandiose magazine…

Frankie V from Frankie Says…