Susan's Top 15 Picks for 2011

Susan’s 15 Picks for 2011

These are all books that were published in 2011 that I read and liked.  Since I like books with a Wisconsin connection, about half of the titles have a Wisconsin connection.

My Top Four, Alphabetically by Author


Baker, Ellen

I Gave My Heart to Know This   

Set in Superior area, mainly in WWII. A young woman goes back to the family homestead after suffering her own heartbreak and uncovers family secrets dating back to WWII. A book about hopes, dreams, and family secrets and a good book for people who like historical fiction.




Kagen, Leslie

Good Graces

Set in Milwaukee in the summer of 1960. Sequel to Whistling in the Dark. Narrated by 11 year old Sally. Funny and nostalgic but with a serious story involving a cat burglar.




Mason, Bobbie Ann

The Girl in the Blue Beret

In 1980 commercial airline pilot Marshall Stone is facing mandatory retirement so he decides to go to Belgium and France where his plane crashed in WWII. He reconnects with people from the resistance movement who helped him. Haunting story about resistance members, their bravery and the deprivations they endured.




Revoyr, Nina


Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for fiction. Set in a city that resembles Marshfield in 1974. Nine year old Michelle (Mikey) is of Japanese-American birth and living with her grandparents after her parents’ marriage broke up. Lots of big themes: racism, family, loyalty to friends, child abuse, poverty, working class values set against the turbulent 1970s. Reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird.



And the Rest, Alphabetically by Author



Auel, Jean M.

Land of Painted Caves

Last in the series about a young woman named Ayla who lived during the Ice Age. For people who enjoyed the other books in the series.


Bakopoulos, Dean

My American Unhappiness

Set in Madison. Thirty-three year old Zeke runs a nonprofit organization, and one of his projects asks people why they are unhappy. Zeke is an intellectual, ivory-towered liberal who loves his orphaned nieces and will do anything to get custody of them. He is both endearing and exasperating. Humorous.


Freeman, Brian

Bone House

Suspense set in Door County. Mark is a teacher who was accused of-- and exonerated of-- having an affair with a student. Now the student’s sister is found murdered, and Mark is the prime suspect. But there are other suspects: the murdered girl’s boyfriend, the dance coach at UW-Green Bay, and Harris Bone, the man who burned down his house and killed his family. You will just have to read the book to find out who did it.


Harbach, Chad

Art of Fielding

Set in Wisconsin at a fictional small college. A story of baseball and relationships. This book received excellent reviews and has received a lot of attention.


Harkness, Deborah

A Discovery of Witches

A mix of Twilight series for adults with a bit of Harry Potter, Physic Book of Deliverance Dane and the Da Vinci Code thrown in.


Henry, Sara J.

Learning to Swim

Troy Chance is on a Lake Champlain ferry when she sees a small boy dropped into the water. She dives in and rescues him. Why does no one miss him? Why does he only speak French? This was a book that I wanted to keep reading until the suspenseful conclusion.

 Hunt, Rebecca

Mr. Chartwell

Set in London in 1964. Mr. Chartwell is Black Pat Chartwell, a big black dog that is the personification of depression. His job is to dog Churchill. Esther is hired to take dictation from Churchill before he retires and in doing that she finds strength to deal with her own unhappiness. A light touch in dealing with the heavy subject of depression.


James, Steven

The Queen

A thriller set in northern Wisconsin. The latest in the Pat Bower series. Suspenseful tale of conspiracy and espionage with details about law enforcement, but also philosophical discussions of God and forgiveness.


Nesbo, Jo

The Snowman

Scandinavian noir.


Rasmussen, Rebecca

Bird Sisters

Set in Spring Green. Two elderly sisters who now care for injured birds recall how their lives changed in 1947 when their cousin Bett came to live with them. Character-driven story.

 Thomson, Keith

Twice a Spy

Sequel to Once a Spy. Drummond Clark was a CIA agent who now has Alzheimer’s. Lots of action and humor.






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