Back in August I discussed the best non-fiction books and best fiction books I’d read so far in 2011. In total, I ended up reading about 87 books in 2011. Here's my reading summary for the second half of the year.
Best Non-fiction (since August)
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
I read a lot of "powerful women in history" bios this year, and Massie's portrait of Catherine is probably the best of them. It's an engaging, highly personal look at the life of a fascinating woman. Massie has the advantage, of course, of having Catherine's own memoirs to draw on -- if only Cleopatra had left an account of her first sexual experiences! -- but he uses them adeptly, and comes across as a wry, astute and sympathetic biographer.
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
If you like reading true crime and/or abnormal psychology cases, make sure to pick up this page-turner. Seal's account of a con artist's progress across the U.S.A. is gripping, chilling, and thought-provoking.
Game Change by John Heilemann, Mark Halperin
An entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 presidential election. How this book will measure up in 40 years time, I don't know, but if you spent any part of 2008 wondering what the hell John McCain was thinking, this book will tell you.