I’ve seen a few people posting a “Where I Slept in 2011” meme, and of course I couldn’t resist that one. So:

Eindhoven and Amsterdam, Netherlands
Venice, Italy
Eugene area, Grants Pass, and a few assorted points along the coast, Oregon
Budapest, Hungary
Yokkaichi and Hiroshima, Japan
New York, NY
Allentown and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bayeux, Mont-St-Michel, Margaux (near Bordeaux), Brive-la-Gaillard, and Chartres, France
Bilbao, Madrid, Seville, Almu├▒├ęcar, Mar Menor (near Cartagena), Valencia, and Barcelona, Spain
Gibraltar, UK (though my GPS seems to think it’s an independent country)

Kate Elliott Talks about the importance of talking about books, and as it happens I read a whole bunch of good ones in 2011. I’m not going to remember them all, but here are some (if I don’t mention one you think I should have, it doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like it – it may just mean I forgot it yet or that I haven’t read it yet. There are at least two or three by authors on my flist that I just haven’t gotten to yet, so I wanted to make that clear.) Some are new, some very old.

This gets long, so have a cut:

Kat, Incorrigible: I like the subgenre of fantasy regency (adult or YA – this is the latter) enough that I’m careful about reading it, because it’s so annoying if done badly. This one is done well – my favorite part is Kat’s utter and justified trust in her sisters, even at times when they’re not getting along.

Angela Brazil: girls’ boarding school series from around WWI. Likeable fluff – and many are available on Kindle for free. I think these may have been what Millie was reading in The Many Lives of Christopher Chant, or maybe it was the Chalet School books (which are not available on Kindle).

The Dr. Thorndyke mysteries, by R. Austin Freeman: Golden Age detective stories, in which the detective is a ‘medico-legal’ forensic specialist. As I’ve said before, I think of them as CSI: London, 1910.

Cecelia Tan’s Magic University series: not great fantasy, but decent fantasy, which is a real accomplishment considering they’re also erotica. People kept describing Lev Grossman’s The Magicians as “Harry Potter for grownups”; I hated that book, not being fond of characters who are determined to be miserable, but Tan hits much closer to that mark – HP grows up, goes to Harvard, and has lots of sex. Like HP, there are some big gaps in logic and a fair number of loose ends, but also like HP, the characters and adventure carried me along regardless. Also, Tan is spectacularly good at dealing with issues of consent, and very inclusive in terms of characters of color and varying sexual preferences.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Alan Bradley: a worthy new Flavia de Luce mystery, and what more do you need to know? I would like to see some more progerss in the relationship between Flavia and her sisters, though there are some small steps taken here.

One Salt Sea, by Seanan McGuire: I’m putting this here on purpose, because the progress in relationships and the growth in Toby Daye are precisely one of my favorite things about this series. I’m looking forward to the next one and hoping for more King of Cats!

The Princess Curse, Merrie Haskell: an intriguing retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, with an eastern Europe setting and a strong heroine. I wrote about this one earlier – I like the way the ending is just conclusive enough to satisfy, while still leaving much of the future open.

A whole bunch by Georgette Heyer, because Amazon had them on sale for $1.99. I’m one of those people who tend to be unfairly dismissive of romance novels (in my case, probably a rebellion against my mother’s taste) but I’m not closed-minded enough not to realize that some of them are excellent books, worth readnig even if you’re generally not fond of the genre. Heyer at her best is among these, and Frederica and Cotillion are definitely among her best.

Blood Spirits, by Sherwood Smith: I loooove Coronets and Steel, and I love this one enough to have just put up a bunch of cash for hardbacks of the two in the auction to benefit Terri Windling. I confess my favorite thing about this one is that it doesn’t follow the plot of Rupert of Hentzau, the sequel to Prisoner of Zenda, but that doesn’t mean that things are easy for Kim here. In a some ways, Sherwood Smith’s books remind me of Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books: personal responsibility and the consequences of actions are an important underlying theme for her, so the duties of royalty and the obligations of nobility are well-handled here.

Speaking of Ruritanian romances, I just finished Eleanor Dyer-Bennett’s The School by the River. (Actually, I think I read this on Sunday, so it’s a 2012 book, not 2011.) Not a Chalet School book (as I said, those aren’t on Kindle) but a fun girls’ school story, with some deeper ideas about responsibility to both one’s art and one’s country.

Among Others by Jo Walton: I think I wrote three entries on this – I’m not even going to try to say more about it.

Debora Geary’s Modern Witch and Witches on Parole books: fluff, and some unconsidered loose ends (do non-witches know about magic or don’t they? It’s never too clear) but there is so much love and so much fun among the people in these books that I’d be happy to go live in their world – as long as I didn’t have to be called “sweet girl” every three seconds.

No Idle Hands: the Social History of American Knitting: Only one flaw in this book: after reading a couple reviews, I’d thought it was a new book, but it was actually written in the 1980s. The author, a historian who had been deeply involved in not only knitting but in the social world of knitting for decades, was clearly the perfect person to write this but now I’d really like to see someone else do a reissue with an added chapter on the resurgence of knitting in the last couple of decades. There is a whole new world of indie spun and dyed yarn, updated patterns, and of course online communities with Ravelry leading the pack. This book helped me put that part, that I know about, much better in historical context – it is far from the first resurgence of this kind – but I’d love to see it covered in the same way. Fascinating view of history on the distaff (literally) side.

Casson Family stories by Hilary McKay: another fascinating family. Each book focuses on a different sibling, each one unique but bound in the web of a loving, peculiar family. I commented elsewhere recently that the trust among them is similar to that in Kat, Incorrigible. A kids’ book, not really fantasy but somehow it sort of feels like it to me.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath: this is a work book for me – change management is lots of what I do and this one handles it well. The basic premise is that to get people to change their behavior, you have to address the head, the gut instinct, *and* the circumstances.

Welcome to Bordertown: um, yeah. I think I’ve already written enough about this one too. Twenty years’ wait, and it didn’t disappoint.

The Rose quartet, by Holly Webb: more good Regency kids’ fantasy, this time spanning many more social classes. MG rather than YA, I think.

It’s also been a good year for new entries into series I love; I already mentioned I Am Half-Sick of Shadows; in addition there were Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, R.L. La Fevers’ Theodosia and the Last Pharoah, and Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus) and Throne of Fire (the Kane Chronicles). If you’ve read those series, I don’t need to tell you to read these books, but if you haven’t, these aren’t the places to start.