Since my major task for today is writing my holiday newsletter, finally, I’m resorting to a link compendium for today’s blog post.
Dwight Garner writes in the New York Times:
When I think about the outstanding things I read this year, however, what comes to mind isn’t a stack of “best books.” Instead, I recall a flickering series of moments I’ve been unable to shake: killing jokes and stolen kisses and fleeting glimpses; scenes and ideas and sleights of hand.
In a delightfully refreshing twist on the “best books I’ve read this year” theme, Garner recalls the memorable lines uttered by both fictional and nonfictional characters in the many books he’s read. He has inspired me to appreciate more, and to keep better track of, the lines that leap off the pages that I read.
Every reader will recognize the humor here, but those who fly home for a once-a-year holiday reunion will especially appreciate this portrait of themselves.
Here are ten amazing books—I won’t claim they are the best, as there is always more to read—that simply won’t stay put in one genre district. These books each take what they need from different literary traditions and bend them into new, exciting shapes.
If you’re still planning your winter-break reading list, here’s why author Lincoln Michel recommends the following books:
- If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
- Inter Ice Age 4 by Kobo Abe
- The Wilds by Julia Elliott
- Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
- Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
- Gun, with Occasional Music by Johnathan Lethem
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
- Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
- 2666 by Robert Bolaño
Author Sarah Gerard likes these short novels because they’re “little books that make a big noise.”
If you’re looking to pad your list of books read this year, there’s still time for some of these:
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
- The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
- Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick
- The Plains by Gerald Murnane
- The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson
- Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West
- The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal
- Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark
- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I heartily second Gerard’s recommendation of the only two books on this list that I’ve read, Heart of Darkness and Ethan Frome.
More recommendations, this time from short-story writer Mia Alvar, in praise of “what every great story collection has in common: fully realized worlds compressed into a few pages, and a multiplicity of perspectives shedding light on what it is to be human in the world.”
- In My Other Life by Joan Silber
- The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories, Nina Berberova, translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz
- Essence of Camphor, Naiyer Masud, translated from the Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon and others
- Scent of Apples by Bienvenido Santos
- Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories by Hisaye Yamamoto
- Lend Me Your Character, Dubravka Ugrešić, translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Michael Henry Heim
- Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul
- Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston
- In the Penny Arcade by Steven Millhauser
- Girls At War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe
Blogger Sheri Dacon also has some reading recommendations for you. She describes these books as “_fairly_ recent.”
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
- The Green Mile by Stephen King
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I second her recommendation of those books on this list that I’ve read: #2, #4, #5, #6, #7, #9, #10, and #12.