Several months after purchasing a Kindle, I have to come to terms with the fact that I am and always will be a physical book buyer and lover.
I mean, look. Is that the bookshelf of an ebook devotee?
|Books in front of more books!|
I and my fellow bibliophiles are always on the lookout for new tomes to grace our overflowing shelves, rather like a pack of hungry dogs looking for the next big meal. This year I found some good ones — and possibly even a couple great ones. (Regrettably, probably none of these are books you haven’t heard of. But if you’re like me sometimes you need six or seven people screaming READ THIS ALREADY before you pick up the book, so here’s hoping this is time six or seven for you!)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Stuffy British gentlemen magicians sounds sort of dull, actually, but if you add in the Napoleonic War, singing Cathedrals, Faeries of the creepy/evil variety, and charming nineteenth century British prose, things start looking up. Plus, it’s one of the rare 1000-pagers that doesn’t feel long.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Passage is what happens when a really good literary author starts telling a story with his daughter and becomes so enrapt by the story that he has no choice but to finish it. Creepy, exciting, and populated with characters you can’t help loving and rooting for. At 800 pages, it’s still not quite long enough. Luckily, there’s a sequel. Unluckily, we have to wait until 2012 to read it.
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
You have to start with The Magicians, of course, as this is the second of a trilogy. Part homage to the genre, part upending of the genre, Grossman applies his usual dry, nerdy wit to telling Quentin’s story with zero heroic embellishment and lots of snappy dialogue. You are forewarned, however: Grossman doesn’t just break your heart once. He lets you put it back together, and then he does it again.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This one is a lot of things — blunt, scathing, questioning, stark — but mostly it’s just true. Through a series of apparently unanswered letters to her estranged husband, Eva Katchadourian unwinds the strands of marriage, motherhood, and the “American Dream” that have led her to this life of isolation broken only by visits to her son in juvenile detention.
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
I have never been a big mystery/thriller reader, and neither Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson were much help. But Mystic River has renewed my faith in the genre as a whole. Part mystery, part drama, Mystic River unravels slowly away from the story’s initial murder to sink deeply into the many damaged psyches surrounding the victim.
So, what about you? Read any good books this year (or in years past)? Anyone want to rectify the lack of diversity on my list? I think I’ve still got some room on that shelf for a few more.