My friend, Fred Ramsey, got me started by putting a list on facebook of the books he had read this year. I read a lot, which is great, but retain little, which is not great. Here are some of my favorites from this year’s reading. I read little other than fiction these days. Some of my choices are odd since I look for foreign authors. On that note, I think the books published by “The New York Review of Books,” are worth a look.
Henry James: The Ambassadors/ Portrait of a Lady—hard to read any other fiction after reading these.
Alan Bennett: An Uncommon Reader
Roberto Bolano: The Skating Rink (an easy intro to his work).
Peter Carey: History of the Kelly Gang.
Junot Diaz: Drown–
Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad.
William Gibson: Spook Country.
Jaimy Gordon: Lord of Misrule.
David Grossman: To the End of the Land (long and repetitious—but)
William Kotzwinkle: The Fan Man.
Jonathan Lethem: Chronic City.
Colum McCann: Let the Great World Spin.
William McIlvanney: Laidlaw.
Denis Johnson: Tree of Smoke
Ismail Kadare: The Siege/ The General of the Dead Army (the siege is brilliant)
Stief Larsson: all three
J.M.G. Le Clezio: Wandering Star.
Zachery Mason: The Lost Books of the Odyssey
Maile Meloy: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want it.
Tea Obreht: The Tiger’s Wife.
Sembene Ousmane: God’s Bits of Wood.
Victor Petevin: The Sacred Book of the Werewolf
Tom Rachman: The Imperfectionists.
Juan Jose Saer: The 65 years of Washington.
Jose Saramago: Blindness (finally, one I could finish and enjoy)
Wallace Stegner: Angle of Repose.
Elizabeth Strout: Olive Kitteridge
Pramoe Dya Ananta Toer: This Earth of Mankind (1 of 4 volumes)
Jess Walter: The Zero
David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest (on my second try).
Any of the Venice mysteries of Donna Leon/ the mysteries of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo/ Alan Furst—start with the early ones/ Anything by P.G. Wodehouse—the Blandings Castle novels are my favorites/ I sat in on a class of Shakespeare this past semester—can’t go wrong there.