Judging Covers opened in the beginning of January, which means we’ve been open (very nearly) a whole year! And what a lovely little adventure it’s been. We’ve reviewed over 100 books, expanded the team, been shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award and had some amazing compliments from some of our favourite authors.
In celebration, we’re looking back over 2011 with some of our favourite books this year. These weren’t necessarily released during 2011, but each of them stuck in our minds as being the best book we read over the last 12 months…
All my Friends are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman
Claire C.: “My book of the year would have to be All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. At just over 100 pages it is a quick read but one that certainly packs a punch. The story follows Tom, a seemingly ordinary man with extraordinary friends, each possessed with their own superhero traits. It is a truly charming little book and perfectly showcases Kaufman’s unique outlook and voice. Everything he writes is just so quirkily imaginative, humorous and entirely endearing.”
Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
Beth: “I found it really hard to choose between my top 10, but have decided that Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman is definitely my favourite book of the year. I came across it totally by accident on an impromptu visit to Waterstones and later found out it was on the Man Booker shortlist.
I adore this book because Kelman creates an infectiously adorable character in Harri. He’s both naïve and smart beyond his years simultaneously and his journey and experiences seem very real and believable. The ending is one of the saddest things ever, despite its inevitability and I would recommend it to everybody everywhere. Can’t wait for Kelman to write something new!”
Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King
Laura: “My favourite book of 2011 was Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. This is a set of four short stories that each explore the darker side of human nature, questioning what pushes normal, decent people to commit sinister crimes. As a loyal Stephen King fan I was suitably impressed by the grizzly, gory shock value to the book but I also found each story very thought-provoking and exciting. It really does make the reader question whether or not it’s ever possible to truly know anyone. With an extra ‘bonus’ story and an inspiring afterword from the man himself, this book reignited my love for Stephen King books, particularly on dark, dreary evenings.
How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
Sarah: Fighting the patriarchy one bottle of wine at a time, this memoir from Caitlin Moran had me fighting back tears of laugher every other page. I love this book not only for its pride in using the word ‘feminism’ but for Moran’s honesty and openess about her life. She is funny, crude, and fed up with sexism and here to tell you about it. You may not agree with everything she says, but if you don’t laugh then you’ve had your funny bone removed. This book is my favourite of the year for being both moving and hilarious, and using the word ‘strident’ in front of the word ‘feminism’ as a good thing.
Read our full How to Be a Woman review
One Day – David Nicholls
Carly: “A love story that had me laughing, swearing and crying throughout. It may not be the most original choice for 2011 but there is a reason for that. David Nicholls has a certain way of writing perfectly flawed characters that makes you both love them and hate them. I had moments where I wanted to throw the book at a wall due to Dexter’s behaviour and more tears than you can shake a stick at all within a turn of a page. Nicholls has left me with the ghost of one page, a page that I often go back and read just to remember how beautiful and heartbreaking this book is and that is the reason it is my book of the year. I cannot imagine anyone hating this book and it will be a book I will revisit time and time again in the future.”
Nikki: “It feels almost like a cliché to say the best book I read this year was One Day, but I genuinely did love it. The characters really came to life for me; as I raced through the book I couldn’t help but believe Dex and Emma really existed somewhere. I found it emotional, inspiring, and a reminder not to waste a single day.”
Rose: “Running the risk of opting for a book that may well have been chosen by every other reviewer, I am going to pick One Day as my book of 2011. From hearing on the grapevine that it was a cracker, to purchasing the book in my nearest Waterstones, to finding myself under the duvet engrossed for a full day’s reading, this really did grab me from start to finish. Then of course was the excitement of seeing the film version on the big screen. Humongous thumbs up as the best read of 2011!”
Read our full One Day review
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Lindsay: “This summer, I had a glorious ten days in the Spanish sun with my family – plenty of time to devour book after book on a sun lounger. In my reading pile (half a suitcase) was The Help, which went on to become my book of the year. Kathryn Stockett transports us to 1960s America, were the civil rights movement was starting to come to a head. We meet Skeeter, who wants to be a writer and change the world. She starts by telling the stories of the many women employed as maids in her small town in America’s south – that is, the stories of black women raising the children of the white people they work for, women who aren’t allowed on the same buses as white people, who aren’t allowed to use the same bathrooms, who are paid less, work more, live in poor housing…
It’s an eye opener, breathtakingly beautifully written, and the sort of book that’ll take you from chuckling one minute to wiping away a tear the next. The characters are incredible, the story sublime, the writing spot on – I’m gushing and I’m not even the gushy sort! Since July, I’ve leafed through my copy three times and each read has been as satisfying, moving and heartwarming as the last. If that’s not a sign of a good read, I don’t know what is.”
Read our full The Help review
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski
Ruth: “My favourite book of the year was The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, an updated retelling of Hamlet (but you certainly don’t need to know the original story to appreciate this book). Edgar Sawtelle, a young mute boy, lives a happy existence on his parents’ farm. The house is filled with laughter and love, and where the family breed their own unique dogs (known as the Sawtelle dogs). All of that changes when Edgar’s Uncle Claude comes to visit, and the stage is set for a showdown that will change all of their lives…
This writing is hauntingly beautiful, with all-too-believeable good but flawed human beings at the centre of the story. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve read before, including the Shakespeare play which it is clearly based on. The love and understanding between Edgar and his dogs shines through on every page. This book made me laugh, cry and gasp in shock.”
Happy New Year to all of our readers! What was your favourite book of 2011?