Wednesday, December 31, 2008

160 books comprise 2008 reading list

“The idea persists even today: Our books will bear witness for or against us, our books reflect who we are and who we have been, our books hold the share of pages granted to us from the Book of Life. By the books we call ours we will be judged.”

-- Alberto Manguel
The Library At Night

Manguel’s statement of books as autobiographical is as true of the books we read as it the books on our shelves.

Which leaves me wondering what the 160 books that I read in 2008 say about me?

Among the 160: Fiction and non-fiction, and one slender volume of poetry, history and biography, sprawling novels and a modest short story collection, or two. It’s all below, each title and author, in chronological order.

I started keeping a book list in 1996. I read 67 books that year, 109 the next, reaching a high of 150 books in 2001. The 160 from this past year represents a personal record and, because I know someone will ask since I wondered too, I have read 1,497 books since I first started the list in 1996.

A few words on the list:

Books are listed in the order they were finished, which is indicated by the column to the left. The first set of numbers to the right (1-2, 11-25) represents the date the book was finished and the final column is the number of “readable” pages. I may indicate 354 and a book may actually have 385 pages, that’s because I don’t count indexes or other extraneous material.

John Reinhart’s
2008 Reading List

“You always read too many books . . . That can’t lead to any good.”

January
1. Slam, Nick Hornby. Fiction 1-2 309
2. Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison. Fiction 1-4 309
3. Halting State, Charles Stross. Science Fiction 1-7 351
4. A Free Life, Ha Jin. Fiction 1-13 660
5. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks. Fiction 1-16 372
6. Big Red Tequila, Rick Riordan. Mystery 1-20 372
7. In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan. Food 1-21 201
8. Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier. Fiction 1-24 438
9. The Widower’s Two-Step, Rick Riordan. Mystery 1-26 383
10. The Painter of Battles, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction 1-27 211
11. Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell. Fiction 1-29 311
12. Brother, I’m Dying, Edwidge Danticat. Memoir 1-31 269

February
13. Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow. Fiction 2-8 487
14. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay. Thriller 2-10 288
15. The Rivalry, John Taylor. Basketball 2-10 371
16. The Last King of Texas, Rick Riordan. Mystery 2-13 369
17. Bookless in Baghdad, Shashi Tharoor. Books on Books 2-13 277
18. Mr. Vertigo, Paul Auster. Fiction 2-16 293
19. Watchman, Ian Rankin. Thriller 2-18 258
20. One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson. Mystery 2-21 418
21. At Weddings and Wakes, Alice McDermott. Fiction 2-22 213
22. Shadow Men, Jonathon King. Mystery 2-23 258
23. Aftermath, Peter Robinson. Mystery 2-25 387
24. The Commoner, John Burnham Schwartz. Fiction 2-27 351
25. That Night, Alice McDermott. Fiction 2-29 184

March
26. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu. Fiction 3-2 228
27. The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert, Ward Just. Stories 3-4 178
28. Friend of My Youth, Alice Munro. Stories 3-5 273
29. The Day of Battle, the War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, Rick Atkinson. History 3-5 588
30. Back in the World, Tobias Wolff. Stories 3-7 221
31. The Lives of Rocks, Rick Bass. Stories 3-8 211
32. It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium, John Ed Bradley. Football 3-10 293
33. Chicago Blues, ed. Libby Fischer Hellmann. Stories 3-11 456
34. The Same River Twice, Chris Offutt. Memoir 3-14 188
35. Felicia’s Journey, William Trevor. Fiction 3-15 213
36. Lush Life, Richard Price. Fiction 3-21 455
37. The Best American Short Stories 2002, ed. Sue Miller. Stories 3-25 342
38. Beggars Banquet, Ian Rankin. Stories 3-26 308
39. Kirby, King of Comics, Mark Evanier. Biography 3-27 224
40. Secret Ingredients, The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, ed. David Remnick. Food 3-28 582
41. Another Thing to Fall, Laura Lippman. Mystery 3-29 322
42. Deadeye Dick, Kurt Vonnegut. Fiction 3-31 240

April
43. Dead Man’s Hand, ed. Otto Penzler. Mystery/Poker 4-4 384
44. The Night in Question, Tobias Wolff. Stories 4-5 206
45. The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam. History 4-7 661
46. The Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich. Fiction 4-9 313
47. My Bat Boy Days, Steve Garvey. Baseball 4-10 146
48. The Ten-Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer. Fiction 4-15 351
49. The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu. Non-Fiction 4-18 334
50. The Great Man, Kate Christensen. Fiction 4-20 305
51. Armageddon in Retrospect, Kurt Vonnegut. Fiction 4-24 233
52. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri. Stories 4-25 333
53. The Toughest Indian In The World, Sherman Alexie.
Stories 4-30 238

May
54. The Devil Went Down to Austin, Rick Riordan. Mystery 5-4 351
55. The Echoing Green, Joshua Prager. Baseball. 5-6 350
56. Our Story Begins, Tobias Wolff. Stories 5-8 379
57. Once Upon a Time in the North, Philip Pullman. Speculative Fiction 5-9 96
58. In the Miro District and Other Stories, Peter Taylor. Stories. 5-13 204
59. The Friar and the Cipher, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. Books on books. 5-14 297
60. The Downhill Lie, Carl Hiaasen. Golf 5-18 207
61. Samaritan, Richard Price. Fiction 5-19 377
62. A Relative Stranger, Charles Baxter. Stories 5-21 223
63. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl. Food 5-22 299
64. Stardust, Neil Gaiman. Fantasy. 5-23 238
65. The Destiny of Nathalie X and Other Stories, William Boyd. Stories 5-24 177
66. Maps & Legends, Michael Chabon. Essays 5-27 222
67. The Magician’s Assistant, Ann Patchett. Fiction 5-28 357
68. On the River Styx, Peter Matthiessen. Stories 5-28 208

June
69. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. Fiction 6-3 335
70. The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie. Fiction 6-8 349
71. Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object, Laurie Colwin. Fiction 6-11 181
72. Nothing to Lose, Lee Child. Thriller 6-15 407
73. Identity Theft and Other Stories, Robert Sawyer. Stories 6-15 282
74. Breath, Tim Winton. Fiction 6-17 216
75. Nixonland, Rick Perlstein. History 6-21 748
76. The Spies of Warsaw, Alan Furst. Thriller 6-23 266
77. Zachary Taylor, John S.D. Eisenhower. Biography 6-24 140
78. Southtown, Rick Riordan. Thriller 6-25 279
79. The Crowd Sounds Happy, Nicholas Dawidoff. Memoir 6-30 267

July
80. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski. Fiction 7-4 562
81. The Garden of Last Days, Andre Dubus III. Fiction 7-11 535
82. Chasing Darkness, Robert Crais. Thriller 7-14 273
83. What Happened, Scott McClellan. Non-Fiction 7-16 323
84. The Warlord’s Son, Dan Fesperman. Thriller 7-18 320
85. Books, A Memoir, Larry McMurtry. Books on Books 7-21 259
86. The Wanderers, Richard Price. Fiction 7-21 239
87. The Greatest Game, Richard Bradley. Baseball 7-24 257
88. Mission Road, Rick Riordan. Thriller 7-24 318
89. The Prisoner of Guantanamo, Dan Fesperman. Thriller 7-27 323
90. Twenty-One Selected Stories, Ward Just. Fiction 7-28 389
91. Rebel Island, Rick Riordan. Thriller 7-29 339
92. The Turnaround, George Pelecanos. Fiction 7-31 294

August
93. Why I Came West, Rick Bass. Non-Fiction 8-2 227
94. The Amateur Spy, Dan Fesperman. Thriller 8-4 367
95. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami. Running/Memoir 8-5 180
96. Swan Peak, James Lee Burke. Thriller 8-7 402
97. Various Miracles, Carol Shields. Stories 8-8 216
98. Rome 1960, David Maraniss. Sports/History 8-11 423
99. Saturn’s Children, Charles Stross. Speculative Fiction 8-12 323
100. The Big Bam, The Life and Times of Babe Ruth, Leigh Montville. Biography/Baseball 8-17 377
101. A Bigamist’s Daughter, Alice McDermott. Fiction 8-18 290
102. America America, Ethan Canin. Fiction 8-25 458
103. Everything They Had, David Halberstam. Sports 8-25 379
104. The King’s Gold, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction 8-29 278

September
105. Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do, Tom Vanderbilt. Non-Fiction 9-1 286
106. Man in the Dark, Paul Auster. Fiction 9-1 180
107. Netherland, Joseph O’Neill. Fiction 9-10 256
108. Praying for Gil Hodges, Thomas Oliphant. Baseball 9-11 278
109. The Library at Night, Alberto Manguel. Books on Books 9-14 325
110. Home, Marilynne Robinson. Fiction 9-16 325
111. The Orange Fish, Carol Shields. Stories 9-17 175
112. Fine Just The Way It Is, Annie Proulx. Stories 9-19 221
113. Exit Music, Ian Rankin. Mystery 9-22 421
114. The Last Good Season, Michael Shapiro. Baseball 9-24 332
115. What Now?, Ann Patchett. Essay 9-25 97
116. Strange and Stranger, The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell. Biography 9-26 181
117. The Given Day, Dennis Lehane. Fiction 9-30 702

October
118. The Soul Thief, Charles Baxter. Fiction 10-3 210
119. Luckiest Man, The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, Jonathan Eig. Baseball 10-4 364
120. Peace, Richard Bausch. Fiction 10-4 171
121. Classics for Pleasure, Michael Dirda. Books on Books 10-5 32
122. Pafko at the Wall, Don DeLillo. Fiction 10-5 90
123. The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti. Fiction 10-8 327
124. Your Brain on Cubs, ed. Dan Gordon. Baseball and Neuroscience 10-9 133
125. Harry S. Truman, Robert Dallek. Biography 10-13 153
126. The Eleventh Man, Ivan Doig. Fiction 10-15 406
127. Patriotic Grace, Peggy Noonan. Non-Fiction 10-16 182
128. The English Major, Jim Harrison. Fiction 10-19 255
129. Cesar’sWay, Cesar Millan. Dogs 10-20 272
130. Art in the Blood, Craig McDonald. Books on Books 10-21 228
131. Dressing Up for the Carnival, Carol Shields. Stories 10-21 196
132. Stan Musial, Joseph Stanton*. Biography 10-26 148
133. A Most Wanted Man, John Le Carre. Fiction 10-28 322
134. The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly. Thriller 10-30 422

November
135. In Search of the Blues, Marybeth Hamilton. Blues 11-3 246
136. Telex From Cuba, Rachel Kusher. Fiction 11-4 322
137. Butchers Hill, Laura Lippman. Thriller 11-7 274
138. The Ordinary Adventurer, Jan Leitschuh. Outdoors 11-8 216
139. The End, Salvatore Scibona. Fiction 11-11 294
140. How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions, Annie Duke. Poker 11-11 254
141. Jesus Out to Sea, James Lee Burke. Stories 11-12 240
142. Change Up, An Oral History of 8 Key Events That Shaped Modern Baseball, Larry Burke and Peter Thomas Fornatale. Baseball 11-15 279
143. Ladies’ Man, Richard Price. Fiction 11-17 264
144. George, Being George. George Plimpton’s Life, ed. Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. Biography 11-22 382
145. I See You Everywhere, Julia Glass. Fiction 11-24 287
146. Babe Ruth, Remembering the Bambino in Stories, Photos & Memorabilia, Julia Ruth Stevens/Bill Gilbert. Memoir 11-25 175
147. Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons. Graphic Novel 11-26 ----
148. The Private Patient, P.D. James. Mystery 11-27 352
149. The Lazarus Project, Aleksandar Hemon. Fiction 11-30 292

December
150. A Mercy, Toni Morrison. Fiction 12-4 167
151. Cardinal Points, Joseph Stanton*. Poetry 12-5 112
152. American Lion, Andrew Jackson in the White House, Jon Meacham. Biography 12-5 361
153. To Siberia, Per Petterson. Fiction 12-7 245
154. Hardly Knew Her, Laura Lippman. Stories 12-8 292
155. A Great Idea At The Time, Alex Beam. Books on books 12-12 201
156. When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson. Fiction 12-13 388
157. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga. Fiction 12-16 276
158. Shadow Country, Peter Matthiessen. Fiction 12-22 892
159. Traitor To His Class, H.W. Brands. Biography 12-29 824
160. 2666, Roberto Bolano. Fiction 12-29 898

* Joseph Stanton is the husband of Barbara Stanton, AARP’s Hawaii State Director.

I have one criteria in establishing my annual “best of” – pure reading enjoyment. Here it is:

My Top Reads--Fiction

These are listed in the order I read them. I recommend each without reservation.

  • Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri. A powerful and beautifully written collection of short stories. Lahiri has eclipsed Alice Munro as the best short story writer practicing the craft today. No mean feat.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. Brilliant. Inventive. Wildly funny, yet tragic. If forced to pick, this was the single best book among the 160.

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski. Hamlet with dogs. You don’t need to brush up on your Shakespeare, but it helps. Nor do you need to be a dog lover, but if you are this book will truly resonant.

  • The Turnaround, George Pelecanos. Dennis Lehane and Richard Price received all the publicity. Pelecanos is better. I found this to be a powerful story of insight and subtlety.

  • America America, Ethan Canin. An old-fashioned epic novel of political and family intrigue.

  • Home, Marilynne Robinson. Robinson revisits Gilead, Iowa. She has written only three novels; each one a wonder.

  • Fine Just The Way It Is, Annie Proulx. A moving, funny and occasionally uneven short story collection.

  • The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti. Think of Robert Louis Stevenson or Patrick O’Brian. Pure adventure and unadulterated fun featuring a one-handed orphan with a mysterious past, dwarves clambering down chimneys and dead giants who return to life.

  • When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson. This book kept showing up on a lot of “best” list and I couldn’t understand why, and then I read it. Lots and lots of very bad things happen to the people in this book. There are times you don’t want to turn the page because of what may happen next. Yet it’s so compelling, you can’t wait to turn the page in because of what will happen next. Reggie Chase is my favorite fictional characters in ages. “SweartoGod.”

  • The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga. Biting satire. Lord, I hope it’s satire.

  • Shadow Country, Peter Matthiessen. Matthiessen compressed his trilogy – Killing Mr. Watson, Bone by Bone and Lost Man’s River – into one 892-page opus. Read it as three books or read it as one, but read it.

I also liked:

  • The English Major, Jim Harrison
  • People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
  • The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu
  • Lush Life, Richard Price
  • The Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich
  • Breath, Tim Winton
  • The Spies of Warsaw, Alan Furst
  • Exit Music, Ian Rankin
  • A Mercy, Toni Morrison
  • To Siberia, Per Petterson
  • The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly

My Top Reads—Non-Fiction

  • In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan. Pollan contends that most of what we're consuming today is not food, and how we're consuming it -- in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone -- is not really eating.

  • The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu. The 10-cent plague was comic books. I still love’em, although I missed the period described in this fascinating book.

  • Nixonland, Rick Perlstein. Nixon is gone, but the evil he inflicted on us lives on.

  • Rome 1960, David Maraniss. A lively account of the 1960 Olympics.

  • Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do, Tom Vanderbilt. Traffic is my run-away favorite in this category. Why didn’t write this book sooner?

  • George, Being George. George Plimpton’s Life, ed. Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. Plimpton reigned during a period in America when the author was also celebrity. Think of Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. We have nothing like it today.

  • American Lion, Andrew Jackson in the White House, Jon Meacham. A biography of Andrew Jackson every five or 10 years is a good think. Meacham’s provides a lively and balanced account.

  • Traitor To His Class, H.W. Brands. Brands’ biography of FDR, our last great liberal president is timely. This effort is lengthy, but rewarding.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not say how much pleasure I had reading two books by Joe Stanton: Stan Musial, a biography of the baseball immortal, and Cardinal Points, a collection of poetry. I don’t read much poetry, but feel as if I should read one or two collections each year, if that collection can be about baseball, all the better. Joe is the husband of Barbara Stanton, AARP’s state director in Hawaii. I haven’t met Joe, but I had the pleasure of accompanying Barbara this summer to her first Cubs’ game.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post columnist comments on Presidential reading list

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen comments on President Bush's reading list. Really, he has a reading list. Karl Rove says so.

Speaking of reading list, my 2008 list will appear soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Does Newbery Award turn off kids to reading?

Interesting article in today's Washington Post on the Newbery Award. According to writer Valerie Strauss, "Now the literary world is debating the Newbery's value, asking whether the books that have won recently are so complicated and inaccessible to most children that they are effectively turning off kids to reading."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Post unveils best books of 2008

The Washington Post unveiled its best books of 2008 this weekend. It's no surprise that Toni Morrison's A Mercy and Roberto Bolano's 2666 are among the top five in fiction. I am not familiar with the other three books: The Outlander by Gil Adamson, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and Cost by Roxana Robinson.

The Post's critic Jonathan Yardley also picked his best books of the year. I find some of his picks intriguing. Yardley liked Geraldine Brook's People of the Books, which I found thoroughly entertaining and well-told.

Three "genre" books make Yardley's list. He writes:
My dissatisfaction with contemporary literary fiction has led me to look more closely into what is commonly pigeonholed as "genre" fiction and, as I've said in the past, to find it more closely connected to the realities of American life than the self-referential fiction that pours out of creative-writing departments. Three of the most skillful writers of such work make the list this year.
The writers, and their books, are The Brass Verdict by Michael Connell, The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst and The Given Day by Dennis Lehane. Good choices all in, I think, the order listed.

Yardley also liked Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us). I liked it a lot too.

My own list won't be forthcoming until after the first of the year. I still have several books to read in the few days remaining in 2008.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Post and Toni Morrison talk Obama and books

Toni Morrison talks about Barack Obama and her new novel, A Mercy, in an interview with The Washington Post.

A Mercy also happens to be one of The New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2008. The other fiction works selected as the year's best: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, 2666 by Roberto Bolano, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill and Dangerous Laughter, a collection of short stories by Steven Millhauser.

As I've said before, I didn't much care for Netherland, but Unaccustomed Earth is terrific. I haven't read 2666. It's on my short list. I liked A Mercy, but not certain it is in my top five. I will be attending Morrison's appearance in Washington, D.C. tonight.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What's Coming Next From Michael Connelly?

Connelly's next book is The Scarecrow, featuring crime reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI Agent Rachel Walling, together for the first time since The Poet. Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career. He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent. Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar, and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.

The Scarecrow will be released on May 12, 2009, in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and on May 26, 2009, in the USA & Canada.

Click here to read more about THE SCARECROW.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New York Times' critics name favorite books of 2008

This year, rather than announce the 10 best books of the year -- typically five fiction and five non-fiction books -- the New York Times has done something different. Two of its reviewers, Janet Maslin and Michiko Kakutani, have each selected their 10 favorite books of the year.

Kakutani's selections include three I have read and one that is on my short-list. The three I have read are Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves, Lush Life by Richard Price and Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. The book on my short-list is Toni Morrison's A Mercy. I am surprised, but pleased by Kakutani's selection of Erdrich. She is a terrific, yet often overlooked, novelist. I liked Lush Life a lot, but did not care for Netherland.

Maslin's picks includes two books I have read -- The Given Day by Dennis Lehane and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I liked Edgar Sawtelle a lot, but was lukewarm about The Given Day. Also on her list is 2666 by Roberto Bolano. That's on my short-list. And a book I plan to add to the short-list that Maslin enjoyed is When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Times announces Notable Books of 2008

The New York Times posted its Notable Books of 2008 on its website today. The list is always worth perusing, both for the books listed and those omitted.

Here are the Notable Books that I have read:
  • Breath, Tim Winton
  • The English Major, Jim Harrison
  • Fine Just The Way It Is; Wyoming Stories 3, Annie Proulx
  • The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti
  • Home, Marilynne Robinson
  • Lush Life, Richard Price
  • A Most Wanted Man, John le Carre
  • Netherland, Joseph O'Neill
  • Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories, Tobias Wolff
  • Telex From Cuba, Rachel Kushner
  • Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Nixonland, Rick Perlstein
  • The Ten-Cent Plaque, David Hajdu
  • Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt
And those on my reading short-list:
  • The Lazarus Project, Aleksandar Hemon
  • 2666, Roberto Bolano
  • American Lion, Jon Meacham
And those that piqued my curiousity:
  • Black Flies, Shannon Burke
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Simon Armitage
  • When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson
  • Delta Blues, Ted Gioia
  • A Great Idea At The Time, Alex Beam
What I am wondering is where is Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Post chronicles the struggles of an independent bookstore

An article in this morning's Washington Post chronicles the struggles of Vertigo, an independent bookstore in College Park, Maryland.

Here's a sample of the article by reporter Bob Thompson:

Late last month, Warren and Stewart appealed for help in an e-mail to regular customers and a posting on the store's Web site. "Vertigo books is at risk," it began. "Vote with your dollars now if you value our local economy and this store." They didn't want to be seen as whining or asking for handouts. But they'd also watched what had happened, over the past year, to other independent area stores.

Poof! No Karibu.

Poof! No Olsson's.

Poof! No Candida's or Chapters or A Likely Story -- though Chapters remains on life support, its inventory in storage as it struggles to find a new location.

It's difficult to imagine that an independent bookstore cannot prosper in the Washington D.C. area. Lots of readers, lots of book buyers here. Unfortunately, all those readers are either turning to the chains (Barnes & Noble or Borders) or buying books on line.

Anyone who cares about books has an obligation to support independent bookstores and to help reserve this horrible trend. I give my custom to the chains, but I also support the independents. I loved the Olsson's that was just around the corner from my office and I believe that Politics & Prose in Washington and Murder by the Book in Houston are two of the finest bookstores anywhere.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the library as autobiography

Every library is autobiographical.

The idea persists even today: our books will bear witness for or against us, our books reflect who we are and who we have been, our books hold the share of pages granted to us from the Book of Life. By the books we calls we will be judged.

What makes a library a reflection of its owner is not merely the choice of the titles themselves, but the mesh of associations implied in the choice. Our experience builds on experience, our memory on other memories. Our books build on other books that change or enrich them, that grant them a chronology apart from that of literary dictionaries . . .

From Alberto Manguel’s The Library At Night

Alberto Manguel’s fine book, The Library At Night, prompted thoughts about how the books in my home library are shelved.

The largest part of my library is devoted to fiction. Books are shelved alphabetically by the author’s last name and also, moving from left to right, from the oldest to the most recent. Poetry is mixed with novels. Perhaps this an oversight and poetry should be kept independent from novels and short story collections, but I like to keep an authors work together ( Margaret Atwood, for example). However, biographies of writers are generally not found with the authors’ own works. Instead, author biographies, bibliographies and fiction anthologies are all found at the end of fiction. And, as much as I like to keep an authors work together, I don’t keep fiction and non-fiction together.

Two genres follow – mysteries and science fiction. I suppose they could be shelved among the fiction but I like to keep them separate and I have enough of each to justify this separation. I also keep the works of Louise Erdrich separate. I have more than 150 items devoted to Erdrich. She takes four shelves.

Sports are kept as a group. Baseball first, representing the largest assortment of sports books. Books on running – marathons, track and field, etc. – follow baseball and then an assortment of other sports. I’ve tried to minimize books on football, soccer or basketball.

Two shelves are devoted to Kansas, another shelf contains memoirs and still another shelf is comprised of books on two small, but important collections – the blues and food. An assortment of graphic novels are scattered about. The works of Bill Bryson and David Halberstam have their own place of pride along with a few non-fiction works that I especially value, including Ivan Doig’s works of non-fiction.

That’s largely the way the downstairs library is configured. Upstairs, on the ground level, there is one large book case. It includes all my Dickens and Edith Wharton, a complete run of the Penguin Lives series, all the American Presidents series issued to date by Times Books and an assortment of signed books – mainly by political figures -- and a few books that are marginally fine press. There’s also a small collection of books on Viet Nam and my folios – principally graphic novels. Also on this main level are two books by Thomas Berger -- Reinhart’s Women and Reinhart In Love. They are given prominence because, well, Reinhart is my last name and I like the titles.

Upstairs are three book cases. One contains paperback books, largely early science fiction. One book case contains Presidential biographies and an assortment of American history. The final book case contains a few “religious” works, such as C.S. Lewis, books on adventure and nature, books on books and a small collection of books devoted to poker and to journalism.

My collection is autobiographical in the extreme. In part, because I collect what I read. But, also, because – to a greater extent – the non-fiction reflects my interests. My fondness for comic books is reflected in the graphic novels. My interest in food, the blues, poker, baseball and running (30 years as of September 1) are all reflected in my “mini” collections. I think too that my fondness for Dickens, Cather, Wharton, John Gardner, George Pelecanos and Louise Erdrich say something about me. What it says, I’m not certain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Le Carre's A Most Wanted Man: The Thrill is Gone

Consider two disparate reviews of John le Carré’s new book, A Most Wanted Man:

In the October 11, New York Times author Alan Furst writes:

“And, coincidentally, a few weeks after the cold war sat up in its coffin and smiled, John le Carré publishes one of the best novels he’s ever written. Maybe the best, it’s possible.”

Later Furst writes, “The concept of ‘best book’ is difficult for the writer and reader; there are too many variables. Truer to say that this is le Carré’s strongest, most powerful novel, which has a great deal to do with its near perfect narrative pace and the pleasure of its prose, but even more to do with the emotions of its audience, what the reader brings to the book. There the television has once again done its work, has created a reality, and John le Carré has written an extraordinary novel of that reality.”

Yet, in the October 5 Washington Post, book critic Jonathan Yardley writes, “As one who has reviewed his work for more than three decades, always with admiration and at times with unfettered enthusiasm, I'd place A Most Wanted Man toward the lower end of the 21 novels he has now written. It is intelligent, of course, and immensely informative about espionage and the people who engage in it, but its prose occasionally is flabby (especially when the heroine is involved), the feelings its central characters have for each other are utterly unconvincing, and it ends on a note of clichéd, knee-jerk anti-Americanism that I find repellent. Now in his late 70s, le Carré perhaps has earned the right to phone a novel in, and phoned-in is what this one is.”

I admire both gentlemen. Furst’s books are taut, realistic thrillers. The erudite Yardley’s reviews are always insightful. So, who is right?

I am inclined to side with Yardley rather than Furst. A Most Wanted Man was a bit of a bore, lacking narrative tension and peopled with flat, two-dimensional characters. Unlike Yardley I wasn’t disturbed by the anti-Americanism prevalent in this novel. Granted, it was heavy handed, but I couldn’t get worked up about any aspect of Carré’s A Most Wanted Man. There is just no thrill in this thriller.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From the New York Times

Visit the New York Times on-line for an obituary of Tony Hillerman and a review of George, Being George, an oral biography of George Plimpton.

Here's one quote from the Times obituary of Hillerman:

His stories, while steeped in contemporary crime, often describe people struggling to maintain ancient traditions in the modern world. The books are instructive about ancient tribal beliefs and customs, from purification rituals to incest taboos.
In her review, Janet Maslin observes that "the overriding quality that emerges from George, Being George is enthusiasm: Mr. Plimpton’s infectious joie de vivre . . . He did his best to treat life as a nonstop party."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Borders vs. Barnes & Noble

To the casual book buyer, Borders and Barnes & Noble might appear to be the same mega-bookstore with different covers. They're not.

Borders, for example, stubbornly persists in shelving memoirs among fiction. You'd expect -- I would expect -- that memoirs would be shelved along with biographies and autobiographies. Borders doesn't have such a section. Instead, biographies are randomly distributed throughout the store. A biography of Henry Ford, for example, would probably be found in the section on American history. This is an annoying practice.

On a positive note, Borders tends to leave books on its shelves longer than Barnes & Noble, and to offer a greater variety of titles. Each October I go in search of the five books shortlisted for the National Book Award. This year I had purchased two of the books -- Marilynne Robinson's Home and Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country-- well before the shortlist was announced. I found the other three books at Borders.

If Barnes & Noble ever had these books--The End by Salvatore Scibona, The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon and Telex From Cuba by Rachel Kushner--they could not have been in the store long. Barnes & Noble seems to have a company policy of pulling books and returning them to the publisher after only a few weeks on the shelves.

Borders also appears to stock a greater variety of science fiction and mystery titles.

Independent bookstores are far superior to either chain in stocking a greater variety of books and in keeping those books longer. My inclination is turn to the independents first. But when I have to choose between one of the mega-stores, I know Borders is more likely to have the title longer than Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 National Book Festival


(Top) British mystery writer Peter Robinson made his first appearance Saturday at the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C. (Bottom) Also making his first appearance was writer Salman Rushdie.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Washington loses another independent bookstore

"I think there's probably a bigger profit margin in noodles these days."

That comments refers to a "noodle shop" that will soon be replacing a bookstore near my office in Washington, D.C. Sadly, Olsson's is closing another store, and it's easy to imagine more may follow.

Olsson's has always taken something of a backseat to Politics & Prose as Washington's premiere independent bookstore. Still, I've attending signings at this particular location by Tom Wolfe, Lilly Tuck and Frank McCourt, among others.

The complete story from the Washington Post is reprinted below.

Olsson's Braces For Chapter 11 Filing

By Anita Huslin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 28, 2008; D01

Olsson's Books, one of the oldest independent booksellers in Washington, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, founder John Olsson said yesterday.

Pressed by creditors who have filed claims against the company's inventories and by rising overhead costs, Olsson's is closing at least one store and will evaluate its ability to operate its remaining five properties, an attorney for the company said.

"The book business is getting a little soft. It's not selling as much as it used to," Olsson said. "Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don't know what we would have done differently. It's a killer."

Olsson's yesterday closed its Penn Quarter store, which opened 15 years ago. Olsson said rents and taxes had risen beyond affordability at the store and acknowledged falling behind on payments to booksellers.

Last week, two of its biggest publishers, Random House and Penguin Group, as well as Hachette Book Group petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenbelt to place Olsson's in involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would force the company to liquidate.

Two other creditors hold claims on the company's book and music inventories, Olsson's attorney Richard H. Gins said.

Olsson, 76, began selling books and records in the District 50 years ago and has battled the economic forces of big-box competition and Internet sales. But ultimately his business is being strained by forces close to home.

"We sort of helped make the neighborhood what it is. And it's a great neighborhood, but we can't afford the rent," Olsson said. A few years ago, the store's rent in the renovated Lansburgh department store building was $30 a square foot. Now, it has risen to $50 to $60 a square foot.

A British noodle shop, Wagamama, will take over the space once occupied by the bookstore, Olsson said.

In their court filing, the publishers say Olsson's owes them $386,541. Gins said that Sony and Ingram Books also hold claims to Olsson's music and book inventories.

Gins said he plans to convert the Chapter 7 filing to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which will give the company time to reorganize its business and keep creditors at bay.

"It's hard to compete against megastores like Barnes and Noble," Gins said. "We're looking at it positively, and we're hoping to come out of it. It depends on how many stores we can have."

Over the years, Olsson's has battled to maintain profitability, selling alongside its books and CDs such impulse items as Beanie Babies.

It has also built a loyal local following with book signings, cooking events and other activities. Al and Tipper Gore, for example, have signed their books at the Penn Quarter Olsson's. Tenor Luciano Pavarotti signed CDs at the Dupont Circle store.

The closing leaves Olsson's with five stores, down from the nine the company operated around 2002.

"I think there's probably a bigger profit margin in noodles these days," Gins said.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

January and February reading list

January
1. Slam, Nick Hornby. Fiction 1-2 309
2. Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison. Fiction 1-4 309
3. Halting State, Charles Stross. Science Fiction 1-7 351
4. A Free Life, Ha Jin. Fiction 1-13 660
5. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks. Fiction 1-16 372
6. Big Red Tequila, Rick Riordan. Mystery 1-20 372
7. In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan. Food 1-21 201
8. Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier. Fiction 1-24 438
9. The Widower’s Two-Step, Rick Riordan. Mystery 1-26 383
10. The Painter of Battles, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction 1-27 211
11. Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell. Fiction 1-29 311
12. Brother, I’m Dying, Edwidge Danticat. Memoir 1-31 269

February
13. Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow. Fiction 2-8 487
14. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay. Thriller 2-10 288
15. The Rivalry, John Taylor. Basketball 2-10 371
16. The Last King of Texas, Rick Riordan. Mystery 2-13 369
17. Bookless in Baghdad, Shashi Tharoor. Books on Books 2-13 277
18. Mr. Vertigo, Paul Auster. Fiction 2-16 293
19. Watchman, Ian Rankin. Thriller 2-18 258
20. One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson. Mystery 2-21 418
21. At Weddings and Wakes, Alice McDermott. Fiction 2-22 213
22. Shadow Men, Jonathon King. Mystery 2-23 258
23. Aftermath, Peter Robinson. Mystery 2-25 387
24. The Commoner, John Burnham Schwartz. Fiction 2-27 351
25. That Night, Alice McDermott. Fiction 2-29 184

What do the numbers mean? The first set (2-21, for example) indicate the date on which the book was finished. The second set (213) is the number of pages in the book.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hornby's Slam a successful foray into "juvenile" fiction

Books now read in ’08: 1
Title: Slam
Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 1-2
Pages: 309





A new year, a new book.

Slam is ostensibly Hornby'ss first effort at juvenile fiction. I’m not at all certain what that means. Possibly his publisher believes this book will sell to the 15-year-old skateboarding crowd. More likely some 12-year-old.

In any event, it is an entertaining book. Sometimes wise and certainly wiseass. If one thing is true it’s that Hornby’s humor will appeal to the juvenile of any age. Sometimes I think he is perpetually 15. And I mean that in a good way.

This is the story of Sam, who is 15 when the story opens and 18 when it ends. He’s into skating and lives with his mom, who had him when she was 16. Sam goes down the same path and his mom – and the story is about all that befalls or can befall a 16-year-old prospective father.

What makes the book entertaining rather than preachy is Hornby’s humor and his way of looking at the world. Sam visits the future on at least three occasions and is given to taking fatherly advice from a post of skateboarder Tony Hawk. Yeah, it’s off-beat and good.

Can’t wait for the movie.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More on 2007 reading

Book of the Year – Fiction:

Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
Norwegian writer Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses is wise and touching; spare, yet lyrical -- superbly written, superbly told -- it is a powerful novel of loss and self-discovery.





Book of the Year – Non-Fiction:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
A difficult decision because I also liked Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder a lot. I chose The Omnivore’s Dilemma because I think it is an important work,
bringing to mind Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is really two books. On one level there is author Michael Pollan’s interest in food and in cooking, and his comparison of three very different meals. On another more important level is Pollan’s exploration of the industrial food network and the refreshing alternatives that have sprung up as an answer to it.


Best Books – Fiction:

  • Finn, Jon Clinch – a brilliant re-imagining of a classic work of American fiction.
  • The Gathering, Anne Enright – a challenging book that rewards the patient reader with a powerful story and insignificant insights into human nature
  • Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison – a man and his family come to terms with his death. This ranks among Harrison’s best.

Best Book – Non-Fiction:

  • Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides – an extraordinary history of the taming of the Southwest. Sides weaves a compelling narrative with the skill of a novelist and with an artist’s eye for detail.
  • Dog Years, Mark Doty – a profound meditation on mortality as viewed through the loss of a dog.
  • The Soul of Baseball, A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America, Joe Posnanski – Baseball reads, and there is no better example than this book. It is filled with marvelous stories of negro league baseball as well as of Buck O'Neil's experiences during his "tour" of America. Mostly, it is about O’Neil, who was a wise, kind man and whose personality shines forth in this book in unexpectedly powerful and poignant ways.

Fiction I recommend:

  • Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier
  • Blood of Paradise, David Corbett
  • The Pesthouse, Jim Crace
  • Winterton Blue, Trezza Azzopardi
  • On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
  • The Children of Húrin, J.RR. Tolkien
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon
  • Bangkok Haunts, John Burdett
  • Blood at the Root, Peter Robinson
  • Spook Country, William Gibson
  • Glasshouse, Charles Stross
  • Kentucky Straight, Chris Offutt
  • Afterwards, Rachel Seiffert
  • Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo
  • Cheating at Canasta, William Trevor
  • Run, Ann Patchett
  • Blonde Faith, Walter Mosley
  • You Don’t Love Me Yet, Jonathan Lethem
  • Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon
  • Secondhand World, Katherine Min
  • The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett
  • The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander
  • Every Visible Thing, Lisa Carey

Note: The books by Walter Mosley and Peter Robinson are representative. I’d recommend any mystery by these two.

Non-Fiction I recommend:

  • Calvin Coolidge, David Greenberg
  • Gerald R. Ford, Douglas Brinkley
  • Richard M. Nixon, Elizabeth Drew
  • George H.W. Bush, Timothy Naftali
  • Shakespeare, Bill Bryson
  • The Tenth Muse, Judith Jones
  • Falling Through the Earth, Danielle Trussoni

Note: The four Presidential biographies are part of Times Books’ American Presidents Series. It is uniformly good.

My 2007 Reading List

Here's my reading list for 2007. 125 books, 37,348 pages -- an average of 102 pages a day.

For those unfamiliar with my list, the first set of numbers (1-6, 11-20) indicates the month and day that the book was finished. The second set of numbers (417, 323) indicates the number of "readable" pages the book contained. Indexes, bibliographies, etc., are not counted.

January
1. Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, Kenny Moore. Running 1-6 417
2. Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman. Speculative Fiction 1-7 355
3. Alexis De Tocqueville Democracy’s Guide, Joseph Epstein. Biography 1-10 205
4. Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart. Fiction 1-13 333
5. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen. Fiction 1-17 331
6. Housekeeping vs. The Dirt, Nick Hornby. Books on Book 1-20 153
7. Freud Inventor of the Modern Mind, Peter D. Kramer.
Biography 1-21 211
8. Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier. Fiction 1-25 420
9. Calvin Coolidge, David Greenberg. Biography 1-26 159

February
10. The Oracle at Stoneleigh Court, Peter Taylor. Stories 2-5 324
11. The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, D.T. Max. Non-Fiction 2-6 256
12. Falling Through the Earth, Danielle Trussoni. Memoir 2-9 240
13. A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon. Fiction 2-11 354
14. Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties, Robert Stone. Memoir 2-13 229
15. When Madeline Was Young, Jane Hamilton. Fiction 2-20 274
16. Lords of the North, Bernard Cornwell. Fiction 2-25 314
17. Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides. History 2-27 402

March
18. Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster. Fiction 3-1 145
19. Gerald R. Ford, Douglas Brinkley. Biography 3-6 160
20. The Flanders Panel, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction 3-7 295
21. The Watchman, Robert Crais. Thriller 3-10 292
22. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. Non-Fiction 3-15 411
23. All Aunt Hagar’s Children, Edward P. Jones. Short Stories 3-19 399
24. Paper Trails, Pete Dexter. Non-Fiction 3-21 289
25. Saul and Patsy, Charles Baxter. Fiction 3-23 317
26. An Unfinished Season, Ward Just. Fiction 3-27 251
27. Dog Years, Mark Doty. Memoir 3-28 216

April
28. Blood of Paradise, David Corbett. Thriller 4-1 406
29. Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson. Biography 4-7 493
30. Moral Disorder, Margaret Atwood. Fiction 4-7 225
31. The Pesthouse, Jim Crace. Fiction 4-11 309
32. The United States of Arugula, David Kamp. Non-Fiction 4-18 364
33. Winterton Blue, Trezza Azzopardi. Fiction 4-19 271
34. The Soul of Baseball, A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s
America,
Joe Posnanski. Baseball 4-21 273
35. The Sun Over Breda, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Fiction 4-22 261
36. Rollback, Robert J. Sawyer. Speculative Fiction 4-27 313
37. I Got Somebody in Staunton, William Henry Lewis. Fiction 4-28 202
38. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan. Fiction 4-30 166

May
39. The Naming of the Dead, Ian Rankin. Mystery 5-3 452
40. A Writer’s Life, Gay Talese. Non-Fiction 5-4 430
41. The Children of Húrin, J.RR. Tolkien. Fantasy 5-6 259
42. The New American Story, Bill Bradley. Non-Fiction 5-11 343
43. Coriolanus, Shakespeare. Drama 5-13 156
44. Tomorrow, Graham Swift. Fiction 5-18 248
45. Up In Honey’s Room, Elmore Leonard. Thriller 5-20 292
46. Rereadings, edited by Anne Fadiman. Books on books 5-21 238
47. The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander. Fiction 5-27 339
48. Julia Child, Laura Shapiro. Biography 5-29 181
49. What the Dead Know, Laura Lippman. Mystery 5-30 373

June
50. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon. Mystery 6-5 411
51. Bad Luck and Trouble, Lee Child. Thriller 6-6 377
52. The Overlook, Michael Connelly. Mystery 6-7 225
53. Why Bring Them Back From Heaven?, Clifford Simak.
Science Fiction 6-10 191
54. Einstein, Walter Isaacson. Biography 6-11 551
55. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson. Fiction 6-13 219
56. Richard M. Nixon, Elizabeth Drew. Biography 6-14 151
57. Bangkok Haunts, John Burdett. Fiction 6-17 290
58. Eat the Document, Dana Spiotta. Fiction 6-20 290
59. Everyman, Philip Roth. Fiction 6-21 182
60. Opening Day, Jonathan Eig. Baseball 6-23 275
61. Terrorist, John Updike. Fiction 6-27 310
62. Close to Home, Peter Robinson. Mystery 6-30 389

July
63. A Thief of Time, Tony Hillerman. Mystery 7-1 209
64. Baltimore Blues, Laura Lippman. Mystery 7-2 324
65. Coyote Waits, Tony Hillerman. Mystery 7-3 292
66. Bleeding Hearts, Ian Rankin. Mystery 7-4 374
67. Sacred Clowns, Tony Hillerman. Mystery 7-5 305
68. Skin Tight, Carl Hiaasen. Mystery 7-8 318
69. The First Eagle, Tony Hillerman. Mystery 7-9 278
70. Blood at the Root, Peter Robinson. Mystery 7-11 309
71. Double Play, Robert B. Parker. Mystery 7-12 288
72. Red Square, Martin Cruz Smith. Mystery 7-15 418
73. The Maytrees, Annie Dillard. Fiction 7-17 216
74. First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde. Fiction 7-20 395
75. The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates. Fiction 7-29 582
76. A Good Hanging, Ian Rankin. Fiction 7-30 253

August
77. The Tin Roof Blowdown, James Lee Burke. Mystery 8-2 373
78. Black Dogs, Ian McEwan. Fiction 8-5 149
79. Enduring Love, Ian McEwan. Fiction 8-8 262
80. The Zero, Jess Walter. Fiction 8-12 326
81. Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie. Fiction 8-16 291
82. Saving Daylight, Jim Harrison. Poetry 8-19 121
83. Spook Country, William Gibson. Fiction 8-20 371
84. Friend of the Devil, Peter Robinson. Mystery 8-24 424
85. Skeleton Man, Tony Hillerman. Mystery 8-26 241
86. Death of a Writer, Michael Collins. Fiction 8-31 307

September
87. Edith Wharton, Hermione Lee. Biography 9-1 762
88. The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman. Science Fiction 9-3 276
89. Can I Keep My Jersey?, Paul Shirley. Basketball 9-12 323
90. Finn, Jon Clinch. Fiction 9-16 283
91. Glasshouse, Charles Stross. Science Fiction 9-21 335
92. This Shape We’re In, Jonathan Lethem. Fiction 9-21 55
93. Kentucky Straight, Chris Offutt. Fiction 9-23 167
94. Afterwards, Rachel Seiffert. Fiction 9-25 321
95. Machiavelli, Philosopher of Power, Ross King. Biography 9-26 238

October
96. Oh What A Slaughter, Larry McMurtry. History 10-4 161
97. Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson. Fiction 10-6 614
98. Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo. Fiction 10-16 528
99. Julie & Julia, Julie Powell. Food 10-19 307
100. Interred With Their Bones, Jennifer Lee Carrell. Mystery 10-21 416
101. Cheating at Canasta, William Trevor. Short Stories 10-26 232
102. Run, Ann Patchett. Fiction 10-31 295

November
103. C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race, Geoff Williams. Running 11-4 303
104. The Gathering, Anne Enright. Fiction 11-6 261
105. Shakespeare, Bill Bryson. Biography 11-10 196
106. Blonde Faith, Walter Mosley. Mystery 11-11 308
107. Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris. Fiction 11-14 385
108. Away, Amy Bloom. Fiction 11-18 335
109. Fieldwork, Mischa Berlinski. Fiction 11-21 314
110. You Don’t Love Me Yet, Jonathan Lethem. Fiction 11-23 224
111. Like You’d Understand Anyway, Jim Shepard. Fiction 11-27 211

December
112. Ralph Ellison, Arnold Rampersad. Biography 12-1 566
113. Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson. Fiction 12-2 258
114. Varieties of Disturbance, Lydia Davis. Fiction 12-6 219
115. The Power of Experience, ed. Jeremy Janes. Fiction 12-6 221
116. Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison. Fiction 12-12 280
117. American Creation, Joseph Ellis. History 12-13 243
118. Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon. Fiction 12-14 204
119. Secondhand World, Katherine Min. Fiction 12-16 274
120. The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett. Fiction 12-18 120
121. The Tenth Muse, Judith Jones. Food 12-22 282
122. Every Visible Thing, Lisa Carey. Fiction 12-24 306
123. George H.W. Bush, Timothy Naftali. Biography 12-25 176
124. Sacred, Dennis Lehane. Mystery 12-26 288
125. Man Gone Down, Michael Thomas. Fiction 12-31 428