It’s remarkable how personal reading can be. When I surf through the lit blogosphere I am constantly amazed at the number of fabulous writers I have never heard of, writers who have small but dedicated followings. Take, for example, this list of underappreciated writers. I am unfamiliar with most of them, yet clearly they are doing exemplary work. It’s like everything else in contemporary American culture: certain authors are lauded by the media and they are the ones who sell books. The others have to overcome this huge silence that accompanies their work.
Here are the books I most enjoyed reading and/or greatly admired this year:
Donald Antrim "The Afterlife"
David Mitchell "Black Swan Green"
Dan Chaon "You Remind Me of Me"
Jonathan Ames "Wake Up, Sir"
Knut Hamsun "Growth of the Soil" & "Mysteries"
All random choices . . . there are explanations if you want any. The Knut Hamsun ("Growth of the Soil") was given to me by an interior designer. I was so baffled by her giving it to me, I had to read it.
Then bought "Mysteries". Both so odd, but interesting.
My mother insisted I had to read You Remind Me of Me -- and again, so bewildered I had to read it.
"Wake Up, Sir" I found in my purse. An old friend passing through town had given it to me; I forgot about it for months and then just started reading it.
Read it like snorting a gram of coke with a similar effect: insanity; uncontrolled laughing all by myself -- in bed in the middle of the night.
Black Swan Green was narrated by a stutterer. Had read a book narrated by an autistic and another by a Tourettes sufferer. Figured it was time to give the stutterer a voice. It was beautiful.
Cindy Snow is a world traveler who spends her down time reading and working at
By a Slow River, Phillipe Claudel
What is the What by Dave Eggers (and i am not an Eggers fan-and i was tired of it by the end but i would include it)
Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta
I also really enjoyed Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle although i don't think it was one of the BEST books.
Betsy Blumenthal works for Kroll Associates, a security consulting firm that works on some interesting cases. Everyone tells me I am a voracious reader and know a lot about books (which I do.) However, when I met Betsy and we started talking about books she kept bringing up fabulous tomes that I had never heard of. She reads a lot of non-fiction. I already plan to read some of the books she recommends here.
I read the book in 15 hours; I could not put it down and sobbed during much of it.
Nancy Chirinos is the kind of reader publishers love: when she hears of a good book she’ll rush out and get it in hardback instead of waiting for the paperback edition. As her friend, I love this inclination because she’s also generous and passes books on!
Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt (Shakespeare bio)
Desert Queen by Janet Wallach (bio)
March by Geraldine Brooks
Northranger Abbey by Jane Austen
I Married a Communist by Phillip Roth
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon