Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thoughts of a few '09 "best of" lists

Something to contemplate while you are waiting for my reading list and “best of” books for 2009:

Only Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs makes the ‘best of” list for Slate, The Washington Post and The New York Times. I didn’t like it much (there’s a tell) and I predict that if you decide to read this book – against my recommendation – you won’t either. It starts great, but then wanders off into the wilderness and doesn’t return.

Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City, which I am reading now, makes the “best of” list for Slate and The New York Times. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel also appears twice; selected by Slate and the Post.

Other books on Slate’s list include: John Updike's Endpoint, Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro and Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower. I have not read Endpoint, but you cannot go wrong with the books by Munro and Tower.

The Post’s top five include The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk (which I will read before the year’s end), American Rust by Philipp Meyer (it will only disappoint you) and The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell (which I am not familiar with).

An enthusiastic yes to the Times for its selection of Maile Meloy’s short story collection, Both Way is the Only Way I Want It. I gave this one to my daughter who is striving to be a writer.

The Times also listed Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls and A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert. Walbert is a talented writer but I didn’t like this book that much. I’ve seen Walls novel in the bookstores, but have yet to read it.

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