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  • Gift Ideas: The New York Times Best Books of 2011

    [caption id="attachment_5057" align="alignleft" width="297" caption=""The Art Of Fielding" By Chad Harbach"]Of Fielding[/caption]

    Everybody likes a good book for the Holidays. But if you really want to impress someone, take a look at The Top 10 Books of 2011 courtesy of The New York Times:

    THE ART OF FIELDING

    By Chad Harbach. Little, Brown & Company, $25.99.

    At a small college on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, the baseball team sees its fortunes rise and then rise some more with the arrival of a supremely gifted shortstop. Harbach’s expansive, allusive first novel combines the pleasures of an old-fashioned baseball story with a stately, self-reflective meditation on talent and the limits of ambition, played out on a field where every hesitation is amplified and every error judged by an exacting, bloodthirsty audience.

    11/22/63

    By Stephen King. Scribner, $35.

    Throughout his career, King has explored fresh ways to blend the ordinary and the supernatural. His new novel imagines a time portal in a Maine diner that lets an English teacher go back to 1958 in an effort to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and — rewardingly for readers — also allows King to reflect on questions of memory, fate and free will as he richly evokes midcentury America. The past guards its secrets, this novel reminds us, and the horror behind the quotidian is time itself.

    SWAMPLANDIA!

    By Karen Russell. Alfred A. Knopf, cloth, $24.95; Vintage Contemporaries, paper, $14.95.

    An alligator theme park, a ghost lover, a Styx-like journey through an Everglades mangrove jungle: Russell’s first novel, about a girl’s bold effort to preserve her grieving family’s way of life, is suffused with humor and gothic whimsy. But the real wonders here are the author’s exuberantly inventive language and her vivid portrait of a heroine who is wise beyond her years.

    TEN THOUSAND SAINTS

    By Eleanor Henderson. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, $26.99.

    Henderson’s fierce, elegiac novel, her first, follows a group of friends, lovers, parents and children through the straight-edge music scene and the early days of the AIDS epidemic. By delving deeply into the lives of her characters, tracing their long relationships not only to one another but also to various substances, Henderson catches something of the dark, apocalyptic quality of the ’80s.

    THE TIGER’S WIFE

    By Téa Obreht. Random House, cloth, $25; paper, $15.

    As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline. Obreht, who was born in Belgrade in 1985 but left at the age of 7, has recreated, with startling immediacy and presence, a conflict she herself did not experience.

    Read more at The New York Times

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