I kind of dislike ‘best of’ lists, so the title of this post is a bit tongue in cheek. But there are, of course, books I’ve read this year that have stuck in my mind, craw (in a good way, if that’s possible) and heart for many weeks and months after I finished them. Here they are, briefly (I’m on holiday!):
Jesse Ball’s The Way through Doors is the book that thrummed most prominently for me – no word as to how lastingly, as I just finished reading it a couple of weeks ago. But I’m pretty sure that if I have one recommendation for 2009, this is it. Amazing cover, too. I took it to Meredith with me and strangers would pick it up and paw at it.
Wells Tower’s short story collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned has been topping a lot of local lists, and mine too. It’s extravagantly good. If you have ever nodded your head at anything I have said, and haven’t read this book, then you really should.
Evie Wyld’s After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is another debut that strikes exactly zero false notes. Eloquent on silence and violence, it’s a wondrous novel that deservingly won the John Llewellyn Prize this year.
My pick for form and fun this year is Tom Cho’s Look Who’s Morphing, which explores the crevices and sheets of identity as deployed/suffered/shirked/played with by each and every one of us, yes, even you.
Non-new things I loved this year: poetry incarnate, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping; king of the short story Raymond Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet, Please and Flannery O’Connor’s inscrutably titled Everything that Rises Must Converge.
Well, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but I have to go drink beer and eat lobster. Plus, I’m getting bitten by these wild little mosquitoes that are ten times smaller and faster than the average blood sucker. But if you are interested, you can take a look at (most) everything I read this year if you click on ’2009′ to the right in the sidebar there. I read about 10 more books than appear there (I’m being laggardly in writing them up). So yes, I made it to fifty books (see sidebar above right). No fanfare, because I’m starting to find a numerical reading target a little embarrassing. But has it been a good year for you?