Best Books of 2011: Staff Picks

The AMACOM staff knows that all work and no play makes us dull, so we’d like to share a list of our favorite books from 2011—business not included.

Atlantic great Sea book coverAtlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins).
A “biography” of the Atlantic Ocean, this book discusses the ocean’s impact on various civilizations, our struggles with its pollution, over-fishing and other current problems, and the various discoveries we’ve made about the ocean along the way. I loved it because it was a book about geography, travel, history, and adventure–all things which spark my imagination.
—Andy Ambraziejus, Managing Editor

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (Hyperion).
I actually haven’t read it yet, but I enjoyed the first two in the series (The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose) so much that I downloaded it to my Nook months ago to read when I had more time. From Amazon: “It is London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth.”
—Erika Spelman, Associate Editor & Copy Manager

Life by Keith Richadrs Book CoverLife by Keith Richards with James Fox (Little, Brown and Company).
Life is a remarkably honest book that captures the true spirit of rock & roll. Richards’ intelligence, sense of humor, and, most of all, his extraordinary love of music (not just his own) shines through on every page. —Barry Richardson, Senior Development Editor

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House).
I’m not really a history buff, and what I know about World War II is more about the War in Europe, and much less about the War in the Pacific. This story of an Army Air Force Lieutenant who crashed and was a POW in Japan really held my attention. And sadly, it does leave you feeling that our use of the atomic bombs was probably a good decision that saved lives. —Rosemary Carlough, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, who couldn’t choose just one book, so…

Shanghai Girls Book CoverShanghai Girls by Lisa See (Random House).
This is the third book by Lisa See that I have read. After reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which is fiction, I read her book about her family’s history in the US, On Gold Mountain, which also tracks the history of many Chinese immigrants to the US who settled in California. Shanghai Girls, which is also fiction, still weaves in a lot of history of how many Chinese were treated when they arrived in California and how they lived as first-generation immigrants. It’s therefore a very believable read and also entertaining.
—Rosemary Carlough, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, who would also like to credit Goodreads for making it really easy for her to look back at what she had read in 2011 (and she would like more Goodreads friends, hint hint).

Super Sad True Love Story Book CoverSuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Random House).
I’ve been following Shteyngart for a while (his writing, not him personally), and it’s been rewarding to see him grow over the past few years. I think that Super Sad True Love Story is where he finally had his own distinct voice, separate from the writers that have influenced him. Since I work a lot with technology, his depiction of near-future New York was all too real. He had many interesting characterizations of how people adapt (or don’t) in this bizarre environment where nothing is private and your value is determined by points on a screen rather than human interaction. Terrifying that his prediction of onion skin jeans came true only a few months later. —Alice Northover, Part-Time Publicist

Book Cover, The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Books)
Written for the young adult market The Hunger Games is a sci-fi trilogy.  The first book, Hunger Games, was published in 2008 followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The young adult label didn’t bother me since I love the Harry Potter books and enjoy good sci-fi, plus I was intrigued by the series because of the great reviews it had received.  I was finally motivated to buy the first book on my e-reader because the movie was opening in January 2012. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future in the ruins of what was once known as North America, the series is a non-stop action, survival thriller. It’s also a social commentary on effects of violence on the young, big brother government, and personal independence. I loved the characters and the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. —Irene Majuk, Publicity Director

Some of you may notice that most of these were published before 2011, but remember with all the work, we need to make time for play.

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3 responses to “Best Books of 2011: Staff Picks

  1. I think this is great– having an end of the year look back at books. I enjoy good reading. You can tell a lot about a person by what they are reading. I read non-fiction on religious subjects as well as biographies and mysteries. I write book reviews for Mltinomah and Thomas Nelson. So you see, I am serious about my enjoyment.

  2. Pingback: Best of 2011 Lists | Book Reviews

  3. Great cross section of books. Wide interests. Thoughtful selections.

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