Some books I Read in 2010
After reading all the great pieces about books read during the year on the Millions website, I decided to do my own book roundup for 2010. However, I couldn’t call it A Year In Reading. It made me think of Reading as a place, and to me, reading is an action.
I am an ambitious and aggressive reader. I’m not bragging. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming even more ambitious and aggressive about novels. Bring it, novelists, bring it, show me what you got.
Anyway, here are some of the books I read in 2010 and highly recommend in no particular order:
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I read it in high school and thought it was yawny Americana. I was young. I was wrong. Taken in by my older mind, the book is a travelogue by a writer at the height of his powers. He shows an America from 1960 that’s not so much different from today and he channels it through himself. If Steinbeck was around today, what would he make of it all? Besides if you like dogs, you will love Charley.
Room by Emma Donoghue. This book came out this year (whoohoo I’m current!). It was a Booker finalist and got all sorts of acclaim. It’s a bullet of a book about a mother and her son who live in a small room because (and I’m not giving too much away here) the mother was kidnapped many years before. Told from the point of a view of a five-year old boy, Room is definitely a page turner but also a meditation on small things and how they can take on almost sacred importance.
Ulysses by James Joyce. Reading this book wasn’t just about reading. You can’t out think Joyce because he’s smarter and crazier than you could ever hope to be. You just gotta ride it, but this book is not a bucking bronco. It’s more like the air. It might seem clear, but it’s full of air pockets and gusts. Now I’m in training for Finnegans Wake.
Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations by Robert Bly. This book was recommended to me and it’s a great meeting of critical thought and poetry. This book had me floating on air after I jumped off the cliff with my legs kicking in all directions.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. I went to Australia with Bill Bryson this year. He took me to part of Australia that I hope to never visit and parts I hope to visit if only because their very existence will make me laugh.
Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O’Connor. I saw this writer at a reading at Rogue Machine out here in LA. He was the best writer of the evening. His book of short stories has so much creativity and wit that it reminded me why I do what I do. I was hooked with the first story, the minotaur one, it’s awesome.
Let the Great World Spin by Colm McCann. Every few years, I read a Colm McCann novel and hate him all over again. He’s so damn good. He has one of the best ears of any novelist writing today. It's worthy of all the praise on the book cover.
How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. Don’t read Jonathan Franzen. Read this guy. Novels can be funny.
The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. I’ve got a thing for deer. This writer shows us how much we can see if we just open our eyes and look at the world around us.
I’m traveling next week, so the rest of my reading in 2010 will be trashy trade paperback fem lit. I managed to find four books without any life threatening illness. I can’t wait!