While I think you should read my review archives, peer pressure has made me think I should give a list of my favorite reads from 2006. At first, I scoffed, “the best”- what does that even mean? Then I was listening to an old bat segundo show (#60 with literary journalist Robert Birnbaum) and RB said about media’s tendency lists and list making this: “I think there’s a very understandable impulse there… The good impulse is that, really, don’t you always try to keep somewhere in your top of mind or close to you a list of the things that you really like? You know? Don’t you frequently find when someone asks you, you can’t remember them? [chuckles] So, making the list, sort of, is a way of organizing the information… You’re just trying to stay in touch with the things you’ve liked and experienced.”
Ding ding! So true! Staying in touch with the things I like is what try harder is all about.
I had a great reading year. It is hard to pick favorites (and impossible to pick a favorite) and truthfully my list would change if you asked me tomorrow. And since I haven’t finished reviewing some of these books, I hope you find some surprises:
_ Mothers & Other Monsters by Maureen F. McHugh (short stories)
An amazing short story collection. Just read it.
_ Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender (short stories)
Twisted, awesome stories about lost people and times.
_ Fun Home by Alison Blechdel (graphic memoir)
A beautifully realized memoir that is a treat for book folks.
_ Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet (novel)
A novel that took a silly “what if” and turned it into a sharp and incisive look into contemporary America. Chilling and sad and funny.
_ Persuasion Nation by George Saunders (short stories)
Excellent, funny short science fiction.
Upon reflection, I realized that there are a few more books I wish I hadn’t wasted my time reading, simply because they did nothing but waste my time. Here they are:
_ The Secret Society of Demolition Writers, edited by Marc Parent
_ My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
My top author discoveries were:
These women are smart, wicked and great at plucking elements from the mind and the world and making them into something new.
My favorite personal trends this year:
Reading lots of great SF, and actually buying single issue comic books, going to literary events
What I’d like to do in 2007:
Read more nonfiction
Read more reprints of old novels (a la NYRB)
Read more translation
Go to more readings
Read more men
Read more small presses
Keep try harder going and gain more smart, informed, sharing readers like you
Improve my book writing