Those tricksy post-modern novels are not for me and I've just remembered Charlie's wonderfully succinct definition that encapsulates why they don't appeal.
But I read 88 books in 2011 ... so here's some that I did enjoy. I'm standing by my choice of Sebastian Barry and On Canaan's Side for best novel but my number one book of the year is actually non-fiction and it's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which left me reeling in admiration at Rebecca Skloot's skill in telling a story. (My non-fiction runners-up are Sky Burial, a heartrending, gripping account of a Chinese woman's 30-year search for her lost husband; and Just Kids, Patti Smith's very moving autobiographical memoir of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe.)
My reading list this year has been rather top-heavy with books from Persephone ... only because I staggered home with a huge bag of them from a library that I rarely visit. Susan Glaspell is now among the front-runners for my favourite Persephone author and if I hadn't been so bowled over by Sebastian Barry, Fidelity could easily have been my novel of the year. Closely followed by Brook Evans. Hard to believe that Fidelity was actually written in 1915.
I don't read all that many books in translation but the most powerful novel that I discovered this year was the highly unsettling Brodeck's Report. From the French, as was my most chilling read of 2010.
As I've been compiling this list, I've realised that some of my best reads of the year have been very evocative of place. Willa Cather is one of my all-time favourite authors so, of course, I'm including My Ántonia. I was also engrossed by Corrag and, quite recently, The Blackhouse, both set in Scotland (perhaps no surprise, as both were recommended by Cornflower up in Edinburgh).
Hurtling through some other titles that I'd highly recommend: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell; Hostages to Fortune, another Persephone; and Mrs Parkington, which I discovered thanks to Rachel who wrote a much better review than I did.
I've also been re-reading some old favourites ... I don't know how many times I've read The House of Mirth but Lily Bart was as captivating this year as ever, and so was The Age of Innocence. One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes was even better second time round. And life is quite long enough to read The Woman in White as many times as you please.
If anybody's interested, these were my books of the year for 2010.