We’re almost at 2011′s midpoint, and Amazon’s editors have selected the best 10 books of the year’s first six months. Of the 10 books, 6 are novels (but only 2 don’t feature historical context), 2 are memoirs, 1 is historical non-fiction, and 1 is science non-fiction. Overall, it looks to be a solid list, despite the historical leaning. The full list:
1. Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff. The true story of 3 plane crash survivors and how they made it out of the New Guinea jungle with little supplies and the threat of the famously brutal Dani tribe. For more, watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Zuckoff from June 22.
2. The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Téa Obreht. Wunderkind Obrecht has already been blessed by heavyweights in publishing near and far. Her debut novel tells the story of the legend of a tiger who befriended a deaf-mute woman in a European village, aligning folklore and present for a richly dichotomous narrative.
3. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. Larson’s book tracks the rise of Nazism through two characters: William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and Dodd’s daughter Martha, a young woman who becomes caught up with her new found access to a glamorous lifestyle.
4. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. The owner and chef of New York’s Prune restaurant, Hamilton crafts a memoir as no-frills as her restaurant’s simple menu.
5. The Tragedy of Arthur: A Novel by Arthur Phillips. Phillips’s novel is set up as the introduction to a (fake) long-lost Shakespeare play upon its first printing. Fans of Pale Fire will find a modern equivalent.
6. Bossypants by Tina Fey. The memoir by Fey covers her personal and professional life in equal measure.
7. 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. A mother takes her son to reunite their family at the end of World War II–but obstacles like betrayal and the shock of war stand in the way.
8. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. A literary thriller that presents questions about memory and identity, Watson’s book tells the story of Christine, who wakes up every morning with no memory and has to have her husband explain her life to her. One day, however, she finds a note to herself telling her not to trust her husband.
9. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Foer writes of his experience in the U.S. Memory Championship, and discovers that we can train our minds to become stronger than we ever thought possible.
10. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin. In this novel, a mother’s life is recollected by four voices: her daughter, her son, her husband, and finally her own. The novel traces her life before and after she disappeared in a crowded train station.