Picking up a few favourite titles among the bestsellers of the year is a difficult task especially when books have always been a subjective choice. Here is a list up of the 10 notable books of 2011 brought to you from the December edition of Oman Economic Review. www.oeronline.com
What It Is Like to Go to War
By Karl Marlantes
With unflinching honesty, bestselling author Karl Marlantes tells us What It Is Like to Go to War in his compassionate, powerful narrative on Vietnam. Marlantes does not shy away from recounting experiences that, outside the arena of war, are horrifying or embarrassing and addresses a soldier’s self-imposed “code of silence” as an attempt to fit back into a society that “simply wants us to shut up about all of this.” In What It Is Like to Go to War, Marlantes sets a new standard for understanding the experience of war.
In the Garden of Beasts
By Erik Larson
In his In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson has crafted a gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page, even though we already know the outcome.
The book is is a vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha.
Moonwalking with Einstein
By Joshua Foer
Moonwalking with Einstein follows Joshua Foer’s compelling journey as a participant in the US Memory Championship. As a science journalist covering the competition, Foer became captivated by the secrets of the competitors, like how the current world memory champion, Ben Pridmore, could memorize the exact order of 1,528 digits in an hour. He met with individuals whose memories are truly unique – from one man whose memory only extends back to his most recent thought, to another who can memorize complex mathematical formulas without knowing any math.
Lost in Shangri-La
By Mitchell Zuckoff
A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end. The book recounts the incredible true-life adventure of three survivors of a plane crash towards the end of World War II. The transport plane carrying them along with 21 other members of the US military crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site.
The Art of Fielding
By Chad Harbach
Chad Harbach writes his fiction debut The Art of Fielding with the self-assurance of a seasoned novelist. He exercises a masterful precision over the language and pacing of his narrative, and in some 500 pages, there’s rarely a word that feels out of place. The Art of Fielding explores relationships and the unpredictable forces that complicate them.
By Haruki Murakami
1Q84, Haruki Murakami’s magnum opus, is an epic of staggering proportions that folds in a deliciously intriguing cast of characters. 1Q84 goes further than any Murakami novel so far, and perhaps further than any novel before it, toward exposing the delicacy of the membranes that separate love from chance encounters, the kind from the wicked, and reality from the dreams under an alien moon.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
By Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor has created a lushly imaginative, fully realised world in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor weaves a masterful mix of reality and fantasy with cross-genre appeal. Exquisitely written and beautifully paced, the tale is set in ghostly, romantic Prague, where 17-year-old Karou is a 17-year-old art student with a most unusual family.
Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel
By SJ Watson
At the heart of SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep is the petrifying question: How can anyone function when they can’t even trust themselves? Suspenseful from start to finish, the strength of Watson’s writing allows Before I Go to Sleep to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity.
By Walter Isaacson
It is difficult to read the opening pages of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs without feeling melancholic. Jobs retired at the end of August and died about six weeks later. Now, just weeks after his death, you can open the book that bears his name and read about his youth, his promise, and his relentless press to succeed. But the initial sadness in starting the book is soon replaced by something else, which is the intensity of Jobs’s focus and vision for his products.
The Marriage Plot
By Jeffrey Eugenides
In The Marriage Plot, his third novel and first in ten years (following the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex), Eugenides describes a year or so in the lives of three college seniors at Brown in the early 80s. This is a thoughtful and at times disarming novel about life, love, and discovery, set during a time when so much of life seems filled with deep portent.
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