Chinking Gaps in Best of 2011 Lists

Yes? What’s that you say? What’s so hot?

What’s so hot right now?

I thought you’d never ask.  Amending ‘Best Of 2011’ lists is thenewsweethottness.


NPR usually gets it right when it comes to their ‘Best Of _’ booklists, but I felt compelled to chink in some of the holes from this year’s overview.  First, though, a few conc(f)essions: I have read only a small percentage of the books on their lists, ergo, their books very well could be the best of 2011.  All to say, please approach my modest additions as a helpful edit at best and a simple PS. at worst. Danke.

Surprised by Oxford –  While her earning her Ph.D. in literature from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Carolyn Weber unexpectedly falls in love…. with Jesus. Weber ‘s memoir offers an honest, simple, yet captivating portrayal of her journey into faith.  Aided by well-crafted prose, she tells her story in a way  so relatable that as I read, I kept imagining (wishing?) I was good friends with her.  Weber doesn’t sugarcoat her experiences; rather, she describes her active wrestling and struggling with candor and wit. I found myself burning the midnight oil several nights in a row to finish her book, fully engrossed.

The Family Fang – “Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.” So begins, Kevin Wilson’s highly compelling first novel. Meet Caleb and Camille Fang, edgy, avante-guarde performance artists who employ their children, Annie and Buster (aka, “Child A” and “Child B,” respectively), to help them form their chaotic creations. To the Fang parents, art is not static; art is motion. Their art, specifically, is a series shocking spectacles caught on film — two children vomiting all over a table in an expensive French restaurant, a seemingly deranged woman dropping stolen jelly beans all over a mall store, a marriage proposal over an airplane loudspeaker met with rejection, a man yelling at two street musician kids that their music sucks. Annie and Buster are reluctant participants in these conceptual pieces of art, and spend a greater portion of their adult years trying to shed the more detrimental effects of being used as props in their parents’ work.  Annie grows up to be a successful actress, and Buster a novelist and journalist. After both encountering low-points in their careers, the two move home. When their parents are seemingly brutally murdered  at a truck rest-stop, the Annie and Buster set out to determine if Caleb and Camille are, in fact, victims, or if this is simply them crafting art. The novel deftly moves between past and present, and I found myself not only laughing out loud at parts, but also reflecting on far deeper queries and quandaries related to family bonds, art, parenting, and the cost/value of notability.


Bossypants – Tina Fey is always so hot right now, so her autobiography is too, by default. No, but forealzies, this book is both entertaining and poignant. Fey offers an unapologetically realistic (albeit hilarious) glimpse  into life as a female in the male-dominated world of comedy. It’s a quick read, and if you’re like me, you’ll be sad when it’s over.


Much to my (grave) disappointment, Josh Garrels’ Love & War & the Sea In Between was largely ignored. Andy Whitman, blesshisdiscerningheart, was one of the few who  had sense enough to include it; you can read his top 10 list for Image Journal (a publication that, incidentally, is veryhotrightnow) here. Anyway, this post is too long already, so I will wrap up my rambles –you should just go ahead and download Josh’s 18-song masterpiece because he’s giving it away for free (!) and savors its merits firsthand. While you’re waiting for it to download, check out this mesmerizing video featuring his song “White Owl”:


Ok, I’m done.  What are some of your addendums?