The 2011 Tony’s Reading List Awards

Welcome to the third annual Tony’s Reading List Awards, a special time when we celebrate the literary successes of the previous year’s reading and shine a light on some rather less impressive books, making sure they get the derision they deserve.  It’s only fair 🙂

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

First up is the Most-Read Author Award for 2011:

1=) Anthony Trollope and Steven Carroll (5)
3=) Haruki Murakami, Yasunari Kawabata and Franz Kafka (4)

Trollope retains the title he won last year, but only in a tie with first-time contender, Aussie Steven Carroll.  With about fifty novels published though, I’d bet Trollope is the more likely to be there or thereabouts again next year 🙂
Next, it’s time for the Most-Read Country Award:
1) Germany (26)
2) England (21)
3) Australia (20)
4) Japan (16)
A big change here in 2011!  For the first time, my country of birth has been knocked off its throne, thanks largely to my renewed interest in German-language literature and two (!) G-lit months last year.  In fact, England almost fell to third place thanks to a new-found interest in contemporary Australian fiction.

Another interesting statistic is that of the 123 books I read last year, 64 were originally written in a language other than English (of which I read 38 in the original language).  For the first time, translated fiction wins!
The Golden Turkey Award goes to the book that was… well, the biggest waste of time this year.  This is a highly subjective decision; basically this award goes to the book I most regret having read!  2011 was, by and large a good year for reading, but there were several less-than-excellent books.  I eventually came up with a short-list of three contenders:
And the winner (or loser…) is… Michael Kohlhaas!  In a bad day for the German nobility, it’s Kleist’s novella which takes home the drumsticks.  Despite a high body count and a meeting with Martin Luther, this is one German classic I won’t be rereading in a hurry.
Now it’s time to move onto the big one, the Book of the Year, and my task has been made a little easier this year by the introduction of my monthly wrap-up posts.  The choice for Book of the Year is limited to my monthly recommendations – all sixteen of them (yes, I know…):
AprilWhen We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

A wonderful collection of books, I’m sure you’ll agree 🙂  By nationality, there were four from Japan, four from Australia, three from Austria, two from England and one each from China, the Czech Republic and New Zealand.  In terms of writers, both Steven Carroll and Kenzaburo Oe were represented twice on the list.

So, what book takes out the main award?  The Book of the Year Award for 2011 goes to:

Steven Carroll’s The Glenroy Trilogy 🙂

Yes, for the third year in a row, I’ve cheated massively and made a series my book of the year!  Apologies to Shusaku Endo and Kenzaburo Oe, but Carroll’s trilogy is the one to read.  For the record, the trilogy consists of:
and Spirit of Progress (a prequel to the original trilogy)
Quality contemporary fiction from Down Under – please check it out 🙂
That’s all for 2011: it’s time to look forward now and move on into another great year of reading (alternatively, you might want to look back at what I thought of 2009 and 2010…).  See you all again throughout 2012!

18 thoughts on “The 2011 Tony’s Reading List Awards

  1. It's interesting to see how we organise (or arrange) our favourite reads. I find it difficult to narrow it down to ten. I intend to read more Trollope in 2012–specifically more of the Palliser novels. Can You Forgive Her? was a delight.



  2. Gary – So far, I've actually chosen a series every year…

    Guy – I will no doubt be reading more Trollope next year – especially if OWC comes up with five new books for the win I had in a Twitter competition 🙂 And a Happy New Year back at you 😉

    Wordsandpeace – A very differeent list to mine 🙂


  3. Poor old Kleist. Hehe.
    I've not heard of Carroll before. Seems a huge omission.
    I like the idea of “Best of the month”. Very good idea and adds another two to the Top 10.
    Happy 2012 to you, Tony.


  4. I should challenge myself and create an acronym fest. What's OWC?

    Your list is interesting, I've never heard of most of them and especially about the winner.

    I hope 2012 will be good to you and your family. No RSI this year. 🙂


  5. I wish I had a year that says the most read country is one other than England or America. Well done for reading 123 books last year, but you said 26 books on Germany? 123 books minus Germany 26, England 21, Australia 20, Japan 16, are you saying the other 66 books are scattered in all different countries? I find it hard to believe that they are not from England or America.
    p/s: I'm working the stats, as you know. 🙂


  6. Great round-up Tony … I like the idea of a monthly round-up … that certainly helps at times like this. I love some of your monthly winners such as The bone people and When we were orphans.

    I can't imagine having a Most Read Author award as I tend not to read lots by an author in any one year – over time yes, but in a year I'm far too flighty.

    You are determined to get us to read Carroll, aren't you? And you always have me convinced!


  7. Caroline – The prize was well deserved 🙂 Steven Carroll isn't that well known, although I have heard that some of his books have been translated into French (he used to live and write there).

    And yes, a monthly list does bring the total to 12… or 16!

    Emma – Ah, I knew you'd bite 😉 It stands for Oxford World's Classics.

    Guy – I love Eliot, as I should – you'll see why if you look up my 'Middlemarch' review 😉

    whisperinggums – Yes! Everyone should read Carroll, but especially Aussies 😉 I tend to go through phases, and each year of my blog has had a few authors with 5 or 6 books. Also, I do love a good literary series…


  8. And, just for you Jo, some more details on the countries!

    In English (59):
    England (21), Australia (20), USA (8), New Zealand (5), Scotland (2), India (1), South Africa (1), Wales (1)

    In German (38):
    Germany (26), Czech Republic (5), Austria (4), Switzerland (3)

    In Japanese (16)

    In other European languages (9):
    Russia (2), Argentina (1), Colombia (1), Czech Republic (1), France (1), Netherlands (1), Sweden (1), Turkey (1)

    Other – China (1)


  9. Hi Tony,
    Happy to see that Zweig made your list. I read Chess Story for the first time in December (recommended by Alex at Sleepless Reader). I was amazed that I was previously ignorant of its existence, as I was a fairly serious tournament chess player for over twenty years before 'retiring' in 2006. I was also editor of a chess magazine for several years and thought I was familiar with most of the game's notable appearances in literature. Alas…

    I can say that, for the most part, Zweig gets the technical chess stuff correct. In these days, there are no “idiot savants” among the best players in the world – or in the country or state for that matter – but this may have been possible in earlier times. I am reminded of Nabokov's character Luzhin from “The Defense” when I think of Czentovic.



  10. Jay – The 'idiot savant' idea was one of the major chess-related criticisms of the text, but I think that those who think that are missing the point – the book isn't about chess, it's about ideologies and attacking weak points. With some chess 🙂

    Stu – Thanks 🙂 I have every intention of reading just as much G-Lit this year!


  11. Interesting list. I haven't heard much about Carroll and don't normally go in for sequels, but I am intriuged enough to keep an eye out for him.

    It is also good to see Oe on your list twice. I am collecting his books, but have yet to try any. I'll have to ensure I do so soon. Have a wonderful 2012!


  12. Carroll was my big discovery of 2011, and he's definitely one worth reading. As for Oe, I've only read two of his (probably for no other reason than that his books tend to be a few dollars more expensive than those of some other J-Lit authors at the Book Depository!).


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