“The Submission” and “Washington: A Life” head my list of favorite books in 2011


The Submission: A Novel by Amy Waldman. My favorite, about a design competition for the 9/11 memorial, won by a Muslim and leading to chaotic controversy.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Vintage) by Stieg Larsson. Much more than just a crime novel.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. An American searches for a colleague in the deepest Amazon


Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. A magisterial page-turner of a biography of the greatest American.

Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. An Iranian-British reporter is seized and tortured by the Islamic Republic.

Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. Learn who will be running America in a few years.

Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future by Stephen Kinzer. The former New York Times Istanbul chief proposes new relationships with Turkey and Iran.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. The American Ambassador to newly Nazified Germany and his adventurous daughter

Here If You Need Me: A True Story, by Kate Braestrup: A memoir by a middle-aged mother who was suddenly widowed11 years ago, then became a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and now works as chaplain to game wardens in Maine

1861: The Civil War Awakening, by Adam Goodheart. The beginnings of the Civil War


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