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Thirty-two best books of 2011

Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor for The Seattle Times, recently published a list of top 32 books for 2011. Read her article here, including her criteria for placing a book on the list. She admits any “top books” list is “squishy” and depends on the criteria you use. I’m sure we could find many more “top books” list for 2011.

What I love about The Seattle Times list is the variety of books represented: fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry.

As a writer, I love reading the blurbs for each book. One of the most useful tips I learned as I began writing my current novel was to have a one or two sentence bullet for my book that contains my original idea. This helps keep me focused as I write and will come in handy as I begin to pitch and promote the book. Also, book blurbs are goldmines for ideas.

On this list the blurb for The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes grabbed my attention: “This wintry, brilliantly creepy short novel, winner of the 2011 Man Booker prize, conjures a man who discovers, as he nears his life’s conclusion, that almost everything he thought he knew was based on a lie. — John Freeman.”

I like the idea and can see myself writing on this theme someday in a short story or poem (in fact, it’s a minor theme in my memoir). After all, there’s millions of ways to explore the same theme. If we put ten writers in a room and asked each one to come up with a story line for this idea, I bet we’d get ten different stories with ten different protagonists.

How has a book blurb inspired you? What are some other ways to learn from book blurbs?

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