December 6, 2011
Cara Philbin, NPR




As 2011 comes to a close, NPR Books recognizes the year's top fiction and nonfiction with its "Best Books of 2011" series. Compiled by some of NPR's most well-known critics and contributors, the series offers almost a score of lists that guarantee readers of all types great reads and gift ideas: from fun picks just for kids, to science fiction and fantasy, to cookbooks for the foodie in everyone. Browse them all at:

The "Best Books of 2011" will be rolling out from now through the New Year. Each week brings themed selections from authors, critics, and NPR favorites such as Susan Stamberg, Maureen Corrigan, and Lynn Neary. Highlights from this year's coverage includes reviewer Alan Cheuse's "Top 5 Fiction Picks;" "Books that Stick" from critic Heller McAlpin, featuring stories that remain with readers long after turning the last page; and librarian Nancy Pearl's "Characters You’d Like to Meet," such as the beguiling, late-blooming 14-year-old narrator of Jo Ann Beard's In Zanesville, or the young son who uncovers clues about his father's death in Summer of the Bear, by Bella Pollen. For those interested in the more tasteful side of reading, "Revenge of the Kitchen Nerds" presents 11 cookbooks in which culinary scholars and serious home cooks share their hard-won wisdom. This year NPR Books also offers its first-ever list of the best historical fiction novels as chosen by bestselling author Sharon Kay Penman.

New for 2011, Michele Norris offers up her list of the year's best books for middle-graders. This is a companion piece to Norris's Backseat Book Club: a new, interactive book club for those curious, back-seat-dwelling kids whose parents' love of NPR has turned them into young listeners ( Airing on All Things Considered and hosted by Michele Norris, Backseat Book Club selects a new book each month and then turns it over to kids for thoughts, comments, ideas, and questions for the author. At the end of each month, the author joins Norris to answer some of the correspondence.

NPR Books – – has a monthly audience of almost two million people and is specifically designed to help a busy audience find great reads. NPR Books combines the best of NPR's radio interviews and news with original Web reviews, recommendations and lists. It includes popular recurring series such as "You Must Read This," in which well-known authors make one, passionate recommendation; "Three Books," in which authors recommend three books on a theme; the "NPR Bestseller Lists," based on weekly surveys of 500 independent bookstores nationwide; "My Guilty Pleasure," which reveals the books notable writers love but are embarrassed to be seen reading; and "New In Paperback," which spotlight's the week's notable soft-cover releases.