I spent most of this year rereading or reading books I should have read a long time ago. Key: ® – Reread @ - Aronauer seal of approval
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - @, ®
Earlier: Brief and Wondrous Dreams, ‘Your Adoring Audience Is Clamoring For More Heavy-Handed Sarcastic Wit And Cynicism.’
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - @, ®
Additional recommendation: Slate’s audio book club podcast on The Great Gatsby
Netherland, Joseph O'Neill - @, ®
Additional recommendation: Slate’s audio book club podcast on Netherland Earlier: Cricket Writing
Diana by Tina Brown
Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
Lost City of Z by David Gramm - @
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - @
Blood Dark Track by Joseph O'Neill
Mrs. Dallaway by Virgina Woolf
Exit Ghost by Philip Roth
King of the World by David Remnick
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell - @
I know a lot of SATC fans who hate the book, but I thought it was fantastic. Bushnell’s integration of the Carrie “character” as a stand-in for herself is well done, and she is very perspective about the fears and doubts women have about monogomy and motherhood.
The Shadow Club by Neal Shusterman - ®
So funny story: I reread some YA for research for my book.
Anatomy Lesson by Philip Roth
Woe Is I by Patricia O'Conner - @, ®
The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm - @
How Fiction Works by James Woods
My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather - ®
My Life in France by Julia Child - @
Earlier: Before That Movie Comes Out Also, the book is way better than the movie.
The Ice Storm by Rick Moody
The Believers by Zoë Heller
Varieties of Exile by Mavis Gallant
Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Smiles on Washington Square by Raymond Federman
The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor
Earlier: Flannery O'Connor Short Story Recipe
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
The Cost of Living by Mavis Gallant - @
This was the only book I paid retail for all year. Gallant was a major influence for Jhumpa Lahiri, and after hearing Lahiri read one of the stories, I couldn’t help but support the publishing industry. I liked this collection more than Varieties of Exile.
102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - @
When I wrote about this book earlier, I did a lousy job of explaining why it’s so great. I’ll try again: Sentence for sentence, it’s hard to argue with the genius of Hemingway. The characters in this book are living a glamorous post-WWI life, but their relationships are meaningless. Over the course of the novel, the vapidness of their lifestyles becomes almost painful. Even afcion, the the one thing that drives the narrative and Jake, is lost to thse empty friendships.
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Cheever Stories by John Cheever - @
After my inevitable move to the suburbs, I’m going to make a self-aware and pretentious joke and name my dog Cheever. This guy understands America (“Clementina”), the craft of short story writing (“The Day the Pig Fell Down the Well”) and is very honest with American man’s confusion with the women’s movement (“An Educated American Woman”). If you’re interested in the origins of modern American literature, you should read Cheever.
Personal Days by Ed Park