Favorites of 2011: Chicago-area authors

The Chicago skyline

At the end of this year, we stop to recognize the wonderful work put out by authors living in or originally from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Here is the list of our favorite titles from 2011:

"The Year We Left Home" by Jean Thompson

An Iowa family transverses the globe — and nestles into the farm — in this elegant decades-long saga that touches on war and roots. (Simon & Schuster, $25)

"The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting" by Rachel Shteir

Shteir offers a magnetic look at this petty crime. (Penguin Press, $25.95)

"The Fates Will Find Their Way" by Hannah Pittard

Sad, yet tantalizing, this novel explores what could have happened to a vanished teenage girl as imagined by her male peers over the years. (Ecco, $22.99)

"The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb" by Melanie Benjamin

This is a delightful imagination of a woman's life, which was anything but small. Mercy Lavinia Bump, who grew to be only 2 feet, 8 inches tall, moved from sideshow freak to superstar wife when she married General Tom Thumb, of P.T. Barnum fame. (Delacorte Press, $25)

"If I Bring You Roses" by Marisel Vera

A young Puerto Rican couple grapple to survive married life in Chicago. (Grand Central Publishing, $13.99)

"Treasure Island!!!" by Sara Levine

A modern college graduate reads Robert Louis Stevenson and decides to jump-start her life with a few bold acts. (Europa Editions, $15)

"Everyone But You: Stories" by Sandra Novack

This fabulous collection of stories focuses on the inner turmoil of ordinary people. (Random House, $26)

"Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan" by Kim Barker

In this hilarious memoir about her years covering the war for the Chicago Tribune, Barker reveals a keen eye for the human stories that emerge when people are forced to live and work closely together under strange conditions. (Doubleday, $25.95)

"This Burns my Heart" by Samuel Park

Park tackles one heck of a fictional love affair as he follows the trials and travails of a young South Korean woman who rails against tradition, yet feels helpless to make any big changes. (Simon & Schuster, $25)