What Are Some of the Best Books of the Year?

Penina Roth is the director of the Franklin Park Reading Series, which debuted in 2009 and has been garnering praise from writers and fans alike because of her ability to bring together two things we love: readings and beer. We were able to get her to curate a list of her favorite 2011 books so far, and there’s something for everyone on this list, from devastatingly sad novels to stories about alligator wrestlers in the Florida swamplands. She writes, “At the Franklin Park Reading Series, our watchwords are ‘provocative, humorous and poignant.’ It’s a tricky balance, but the ten authors on this idiosyncratic list – from indie superstars like Blake Butler and Emma Straub to New Yorker “20 Under 40″ designee Karen Russell and internationally heralded first-time novelist Teju Cole – have mastered this feat.” So read on, dear readers, and let us know what your favorite books have been so far this year in the comments section below.

Open City by Teju Cole

Roth writes, “Teju Cole’s peripatetic narrative, echoing his aesthete narrator’s meandering thoughts while winding through New York and Brussels, was a fascinating departure from conventional, plot-driven novels.” This is the debut novel for Cole, the Brooklyn-based writer, historian, and street photographer.