Saturday, December 5, 2009

My year's best reads

Mind you, I don't claim this constitutes a substantive posting, but it tickles me to offer it up so I shall. I've read something like 62 or 63 books so far in 2009. Here are my favorites.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
Briefing for a Descent into Hell by Doris Lessing
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
City of Refuge by Tom Piazza
Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Phillips
Fault Lines by Nancy Huston
In the Kitchen by Monica Ali
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre
Like Trees, Walking by Ravi Howard
A Long and Happy Life by Reynolds Price
The Scar of David by Susan Abulhawa
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Unlike last year, this year they're all fiction. Like last year, the list includes some pretty old titles that I'm glad I finally read along with some more recent novels. Most of the books showing up on the literary establishment's best-of-the-year lists are not here, because (a) they don't interest me and I have no intention of reading them; (b) I'm waiting for the paperbacks because I can't afford hardcovers and/or I'm on the miles-long reserve list at the library; (c) I started reading them and stopped because they're boring and/or stinky and/or reactionary.

Now I'm wrestling with how to read on as the year winds down. Do I go for quantity, reading lots of short books in the sole interest of upping the year's total, or do I go for quality, reading one or two serious books I've been meaning to but been putting off? Or, and yes there is a third option, do I settle down over the 10-day holiday break that I get as a university employee with a big fat novel that a friend gave me that is not of high literary quality, has no particular socially redeeming value, will embarrass me to list on the "what I'm reading now" spot here, but I have a feeling I just might really enjoy? A beach book, in other words, only the winter version, more of a pajamas-and-tea book. Quantity? Quality? Fun? Decisions, decisions.