More and more memoirs seem to come out every year — a product, perhaps, in our unslakable interest in the human condition — but as far as we’re concerned, 2011 was a particularly great one. We had actually wonderful celebrity memoirs, unusual and experimental prose, and particular standouts in the traditional memoir fields of family history and tragedy. Click through to read about our favorite memoirs of the year, and since we can’t possibly have read all the great ones out there, be sure to chime in with your own picks in the comments. One note: the last entry on the list — a really fantastic book — may be slightly NSFW. Proceed with caution.
Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, by Blake Butler
Like any self-respecting insomniac, Blake Butler is obsessed with his own inability to sleep, and this memoir of sleeplessness often feels like an immersive experience, the loose form evoking a neurotic mind running through all the options while lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. It’s not just an endless red-eyed run-on, however — Butler has clearly spent his many waking hours researching insomnia, and the memoir weaves through fascinating sections on the history and cultural impact of the phenomenon, dissecting the way sleep and wakefulness slide together and apart, whether gracefully or in fits and starts, and the impact this has on the mind.