It’s interesting to note these lists I found recently on The New York Times. I think I really prefer 2006 to 2007. I’m finding I can hardly pronounce the author’s names these days!
In 2008, I worry that we’re getting too warlike, political and dark in our books. I can’t seem to find much that’s reviewed or critiqued that doesn’t have something to say about Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran…subterfuge, political crisis or the like. I’m discouraged enough about the loss of America as I knew it even 25 years ago….it’s really disheartening to be told we have to read all about who we’ve become or are becoming as the World takes us over. I just want a good, old-fashioned but well-written complicated relationship story…do you?
At any rate, here are the lists promised. You decide what you like: I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read or have to be read in my stacks! :]
Top 10 Notable Books of 2007: Fiction
1) The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. A sex-ed teacher faces off against a church bent on ridding her town of “moral decay.”
2) After Dark by Haruki Murakami…translated. A tale of two sisters, one awake all night, one asleep for months.
3) The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa…translated. This suspenseful novel transforms “Madame Bovary” into a vibrant exploration of the urban mores of the 1960’s, ’70s and ’80s.
4) Bearing The Body by Ehud Havazelet. In this daring, first novel, a man travels to CA after his brother is killed in what may have been a drug transaction.
5) The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. A first novel about an Ethiopian exile in Washington, DC, evokes loss, hope, meomory and the solace of friendship.
6) Bridge Of Sighs by Richard Russo. …a small town in NY riven by class differences and racial hatred.
7) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. A nerdy Dominican American yearns to write and fall in love.
8) Call Me By Your Name by Andre’ Aciman. …novel of love, desire, time and memory describes a passionate affair between two young men in Italy.
9) Cheating At Canasta by William Trevor. Trevor’s dark, worldly short stories linger in the mind long after they’re finished.
10) The Collected Poems, 1956-1998. by Zbigniew Herbert…translated. Herbert’s poetry echoes the quiet insubordination of his public life.
The 10 Best Books of 2006: Fiction & Non-Fiction
1) Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. …scruffy, exuberant..equal parts Gogol and Borat…immodest on every level…it’s long, crude, manic and has cheap vodka on it’s breath. It also happens to be smart, funny and…extraordinarily rich and moving.
2) The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel. ….she has demonstrated unusual discipline in assembling her urbane, pointillistic and wickedly funny short stories. Her compact fictions, populated by smart, neurotic, somewhat damaged narrators, speak grandly to the longings and insecurities in all of us, and in a voice that is bracingly direct and sneakily profound.
3) The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud. This superbly intelligent, keenly observed comedy of manners, set amid the glitter of cultural Manhattan in 2001, also looks unsparingly, though sympathetically, at a privileged class unwittingly poised in its insularity, for the catastrophe of 9/ll.
4) The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford. ..3rd installment..serial epic of Frank Bascombe-flawed husband, fuddled dad, writer turned real estate agent and voluble first-person narrator.
5) Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. The antic ghost of Nabokov hovers over this buoyantly literate first novel, a murder mystery narrated by a teenager enamored of her own precocity but also in thrall to her father, an enigmatic itinerant professor, and to the charismatic female teacher whose death is announced on the first page.
1) Falling Through The Earth, A Memoir by Danielle Trussoni. This intense,…searing memoir revisits the author’s rough-and-tumble Wisconsin girlhood, spent on the wrong side of the tracks in the company of her father, a Vietnam vet who began his tour as “a cocksure country boy” but returned “wild and haunted,” unfit for family life and driven to extremes of philandering, alcoholis and violence.
2) The Looming Tower, Al-Queda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. In the fullest account yet of the events that led to the fateful day, Wright unmasks the secret world of Osama bin Laden and his collaborators and also chronicles the efforts of a handful of American intelligence officers alert to the approaching danger but frustrated, time and agin, in their efforts to stop it.
3) Mayflower, A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. This absorbing history of the Plymouth Colony..impressively recreates the the pilgrim’s dismal 1620 voyage, bringing to life passengers and crew, and the events of the settlement…
4) The Omnivore’s Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. “When you can eat just about anything natuare has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety,” Pollan writes in this supple and probing book.
5) The Places In Between by Rory Stewart. “You are the first tourist in Afghanistan,” Stewart, a young Scotsman, was warned by an Afghan official before commencing the journey recounted in this splendid book. “It is mid-winter-there are three meters of snow on the high passes, there are wolves, and this is a war. You will die, I can guarantee.” Stewart, thankfully, did not die….
I have to tell you I particuarly loved “Special Topics In Calamity Physics.” It was priceless!! I couldn’t put it down. At least try that one for an enjoyable read…
Bye, The Bookish Dame