2016. Another year? Really?
It actually feels like a year has gone by – maybe even longer – but I figure that’s what you are supposed to write in year in review posts right? Time flies, it’s crazy!
I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. I mostly gave up reading the New Yorker so fastidiously, which really upped my book learning this year. I also got pretty hardcore about listening to books as opposed to podcasts (for the most part) when I’m in the car and at the gym. The result was I was able to complete 44 books this year. That’s versus 24 last year. Yay. I have not, however, managed to cut out the newspaper reading and I’m not sure if I want to. I hope to get at least 52 books next year (on account of that’s how many weeks in a year there are!).
I’ve also kept pretty rigorous account of what I thought of all those books. Here I’ll list a few of my favorites. The ones I gave a 10 out of 10 rating.
My favorite book of the year, bar none, was “Eilleen” by Ottessa Moshfegh.
I just loved her warped, fucked up female protagonist, Eilleen. I loved that she sniffs her filthy fingers and secretly stalks one of the guys she works with; she’s a fucking mess! She made the book so much fun to read. I loved how the author forced the reader to decide what parts of the book were really happening and what was imagined. All in all, it was kind of a period piece acid flashback that was bleak and gritty. I loved it!
I went deep with the famous James M. Cain. I can’t believe I’ve never read him before! I loved, loved, loved “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” It was fucking genius. I gave “Postman” and “Mildred Pierce” a 10. They are beautiful books and I can’t believe I’d never read them. I also gave “Double Indemnity” a 9.
I also enjoyed a highly praised book from last year, Anthony Marra’s “The Czar of Love and Techno.” I gave that a 10. It’s not a novel, rather an interwoven series of short stories about individual Russian protagonists. I thought it was smart and clever and poignant.
I re-read “The Catcher in the Rye” and gave that a 10. It really is a remarkable book. It’s a remarkable book from so many different aspects, including tone, literary form and voice.
The only other 10 was a book called “The North Water” that I listened to. It was written by a man named Ian McGuire and it’s kind of a historical fiction murder mystery set on a whaling ship in the waters off of Greenland/Canada. I think the actor who read it helped me appreciate the book, as it was an impressive performance. In any case it was great. Really gripping stuff.
My 9’s were:
“A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
“Dodgers” by Bill Beverly
“The Nix” by Nathan Hill
“The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” by John le Carré
“The Girls” by Emma Cline
Nobody reads these posts anyway, but I figured I’d keep up with tradition for my own sake… Maybe if I make it to my 70’s or 80’s or something I can look back at these posts and stop myself before I reread a bad book. All because I decided to chronicle this shit once a year.
Happy 2017 to you, whoever you are.