Please note: This list is compiled in no particular order. It is simply a list of my favorite books for this particular genre in 2011.

Afoot and Afield in San Diego

Afoot and Afield in San Diego by Jerry Schad (Nonfiction~Outdoors)

Recommended for anyone living in southern California, particularly those in the San Diego area. Schad has compiled a comprehensive list of all the hiking trails in San Diego county–both urban and rural. Also includes camping sites, tips on all potential obstacles, and lists of flora and fauna and wildlife to be encountered. Indispensable when planning a nature retreat in San Diego!

How to Read and Why

How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (Nonfiction~Literature)

A treatise on why it is important to read the classics. Includes recommendations on what to read of the classics. Also, critically analyzes canonical works of the following types: short story, poetry, drama, classical novels, and the modern novel. I use this as a reference point both before and during the reading of classical literature.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Memoir)

This well-written, very emotional memoir chronicles a very unconventional, nomadic life. Wells was the daughter of very unconventional parents who move their children all across the country. The parents come off as very unfit, and Wells relates how their life was seen as an adventure when she was young, but then grew to be tiresome as she matured and differentiated from her parents’ life philosophy. Contains some shocking scenes which often anger and polarize readers. I will never forget this well-written memoir-it’s one of the few pieces of biographical writing that I truly enjoyed.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool (Nonfiction~British Literary History)

I love this book! I always keep it by my side when reading classic British literature, which is often. It includes explanations on the differences between Town(London) life and country life, occupations, titles, illnesses, food, games, dances, and more. It also contains a map of England, which I mark up with the locations of scenes from each novel I read. Highly recommended.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Memoir~Humor)

Simply put: I love David Sedaris! Have yet to find a book by him that I didn’t like.

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters (Nonfiction~Cookbook)

A very good cookbook that supplies simple instructions on simple food. Most of the recipes require little work and few ingredients as they are meals stripped down to their purest, most tasty selves.

Create Your Own Blog by Tris Hussey (Nonfiction~Blogging)

This is the book that started my blog! Read my review(my first review!) here.

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron (Nonfiction~Writing/Art Self Help)

This book was also very instrumental in creating this blog. It’s a creativity program that requires daily journaling (3 pages daily), Artist Dates (an hour or two weekly that indulges your creative side; I took a trip to a bookstore, a trip to an old cemetery, a few hours looking at and reflecting on old photo albums and yearbooks). Also includes weekly exercises in reflection on one’s self as an artist. Highly recommended for anyone seeking to create.

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell (Nonfiction~Writing Fiction)

This is the best book on the writing of fiction that I have ever read (well, tied with Stephen King’s On Writing). Bell breaks plot down to a simple formula: create a character, give them a motive, put an obstacle in front of them (what’s the worst thing that could happen to them? Torture them!), see what happens next. Rinse and repeat. An excellent book, the only book that has made it seem possible that I could write fiction.

Sticky Readers: How to Create a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better by Margaret Andrews (Nonfiction~Blogging)

A useful book that has made me want to improve my blog. Read my review here.

Tomorrow’s Post: My Top Ten Books Read in 2011!