If only I could spend all my time reading. In a way I guess I do. Between magazines, emails, blog posts, text messages, twitter feeds etc, we probably all read more than we did a decade ago. But there is nothing like sitting down with a new book. While I still love and collect actual books, a lot of the books on this list were read on my iPad, and purchased through iBooks or Kindle. I’ll say up front that I enjoyed most of them immensely. Like so many things these days, we have a way of finding the things we like. I’ll say that’s a good thing, at least when it comes to books. Fiction
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus - Four excellent stories that tie together only peripherally. Set on the seacoast of NH and thereabouts, these are stories of people displaced, victims of their own sabotage, or of those they love.
The Circle by Dave Eggers – A much anticipated, much talked about novel that follows the exploits of a new employee at a large “google like” company in the not-so-distant future. Don’t let the ease of use UI fool you – this is scary stuff too.
Tenth of December by George Saunders Another much talked about book. I believe the NYT said it was the best book of the year in January. And they well be right. Incredible stories that run a range of subjects in a style so compact and evocative, not to mention funny, tragic and so very human. The best book of short stories I read this year.
The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth - An excellent first novel that captures what it’s like growing up as geek and becoming a successful entrepreneur.
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter OK, I know this is his first book. I was supposed be to read his new book (and still will) called All That Is. This was like the Sun Also Rises if it had it been written by Fitzgerald.
Stoner by John Williams This is not a new Published in 1965, it is the story of the son of poor farmer who goes off to become a University Professor. William Stoner’s life is no more or less dramatic than any other and yet that is what gives the story such emotional depth. There is such grace and insight in the writing. A lovely read.
A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell Banks - I thought that I had read most of Russell Banks books over the years, but I see now that is not the case (this means there are even more titles for me to explore). Banks is a superb writer probably most well known for "The Sweet Hereafter" which was made into a film by Ang Lee back in the 90’s. Banks is in his 70’s now and the stories concern old age for the most part. But don’t let that put you off. Banks digs deep and reminds us that mortality is only one of the problems we must face, or not.
Tumbledown by Robert Boswell - If I had to pick the best novel I read this year it would be Tumbledown. Like George Saunder’s "Tenth of December" below, Boswell writes with extraordinary humanity, about the patients and the therapists at a residential treatment center. A longer read worth every word.
The Geography of Desire by Robert Boswell - I liked Tumbledown so much that I had to read something else by Boswell. I couldn’t find his lovely first novel "Crooked Hearts", so I read this instead. The story of a man who has run off to a remote island to escape himself only to learn (of course) that he can’t.
The Love Affair of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman - A novel written by a woman from the point of view of a young man struggling to be a writer in present day Brooklyn. Her insights into the male mind are astonishing.
Tai Pei by Tao Lin -Very contemporary. We follow a young writer on a book tour.
The moment to moment communication of nothing much happening, reflects the distractions and the ennui of this new age unlike anything I’ve read.