procrastinator picks – best books of 2011

We’ve heard from the critics but what have I got? This year I sadly did less reading than last, though that didn’t stop me from purchasing books… So while I try to up my ratio here’s a look at some of the books I enjoyed. And I’m going with alphabetical order by author.

  • Men & Dogs by Katie Crouch – The main character Hannah is a product of her father’s mysterious disappearance and she’s an unlikable mess that we can’t help but like, as well as the rest of her southern family she’s forced to revisit along with her past, I should mention Katie is a friend of mine.
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – Parts of this book are great, introducing intriguing characters with interconnected lives, the stylistic explorations of form sometimes work but toward the end push too far in what felt like the sake of pushing it and sort of lost me.
  • Star Island by Carl Hiaasen – I always enjoy an eco political campy pop star romp through Florida though I think these capers have gotten even more convoluted, if they weren’t so quick I don’t know that I’d keep up.
  • Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill – I stopped reading Stephen King some time ago, though I hate to make the comparison to his father, but I haven’t had a good ghost story in a long time, even if I apparently have reached an age where I prefer to read less suspenseful text before bed.
  • Nina Here Nor There by Nick Krieger – A wonderful memoir that explores the lines of gender, opening up a window to a new world for many while remaining incredibly relatable and funny and touching to all, Nick is also a friend of mine.
  • Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem – His writings are always a touch irregular and this latest follows suit, we’re never quite sure what’s going on with our former child star and his new friends as they look into culture, politics, mysticism and their fair share of getting high, maybe not as compelling a tome as Fortress of Solitude but an engaging ride.
  • One Day by David Nicholls – We check in with Dexter and Emma each year to see how their doing individually and together, although obviously somewhat contrived the character’s growth and change over the years makes an interesting tale, I did skip the Anne Hathaway flick version.
  • Mr Peanut by Adam Ross – I really liked a lot of this book, its dark look at relationships with the reveal of the story of a murder suspect whose wife may have choked on a peanut, as well as the parallels with the lives of the two detectives relationships, but it was a bit too convoluted to be completely satisfying.
  • Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas – This book quickly brought me in with its poetic look at a man on the brink, looking at his past and his present, his surroundings New York and Boston, his struggles with class and race, and his relationships, though the poetry of the language didn’t keep me as engaged throughout.
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critic’s picks – best books of 2011

I think by now we all know that I don’t get to new releases right away, but here’s what some of the critics are talking about out of this year’s crop. And of course I mostly stick to fiction so that’s what’s covered here. Check the links out below for full reviews and lists, and check back for the best (though maybe not ten) of what I did read this year.

  • The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad – PW
  • Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson – Ti
  • Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks – Am, JM
  • The Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes – SFG
  • Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton – Ti
  • The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier – MC
  • The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky – PW
  • The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes – Ti
  • Open City by Teju Cole – Ti, MC
  • Daughters of the Revolution by Carloyn Cooke – SFG
  • The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo – MK
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt – Am, PW
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – Am, PW, MC
  • You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon – JM, SFG
  • Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman – PW
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – Am, NYT, MK, SFG, MC
  • Volt by Alan Heathcock – PW
  • Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson – NYT
  • The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst – PW
  • Train Dreams by Denis Johnson – PW, MC
  • The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler – Ti
  • Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy – PW
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King – NYT
  • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan – Am
  • Leche by R. Zamora Linmark – PW
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin – Ti
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – PW
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Am
  • The Call by Yannick Murphy – PW
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht – Am, NYT, MK, PW
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje – Am
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett – LG, PW, MC
  • The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta – MC
  • The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock – PW
  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell – NYT, JM, SFG, MC
  • Cain by Jose Saramago – PW
  • Luminarium by Alex Shakar – PW
  • Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin – Am
  • There but for the by Ali Smith – PW
  • Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan – Ti
  • Someday This Will Be Funny by Lynne Tillman – PW
  • I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck – PW
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman – MC
  • The Pale King by David Foster Wallace – MK, Ti, MC
  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – Ti

AM – Amazon, MC – Maureen Corrigan for NPR, MK – Michiko Kakutanis, JM – Janet Maslins, NYT – New York Times, PW – Publishers Weekly, SFG – SFGate, Ti – Time

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procrastinator picks – best books of 2010

Well another year and another stab at a top ten or so. In reviewing my books of last year I realized I’m mostly reading the same authors, I find myself torn between an old favorite and finding a new favorite. So this year I’m going to pull some new names off the shelf, after I finish this Michael Chabon I’m working on of course.

  • Nobody’s Fool/Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo – One of my favorite authors and while his books have a familiar comfort to them, Nobody’s Fool visits the same themes as it wraps the Mohawk trilogy, Bridge of Sighs brings a slightly new take and a greater complexity to a family in a small town over a period of time.
  • Curse of the Spellmans/Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz – These fluffy detective stories are totally delightful as we join the quirky San Francisco PI family dealing with at least one case but mostly get themselves in and out of trouble.
  • The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett – From the author of Bel Canto, we get to know a woman who gets to know her magician husband and maybe herself after his death.
  • Lush Life by Richard Price – This was my first Price and more interesting than the Manhattan Lower East Side crime that the novel follows is the way he details the place through the various people involved.
  • Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem – I’ve been continuing back with his earlier works and he seem to cover a broad spectrum of genres, this futuristic detective novel is amusing and engaging though just a little bit plain weird.
  • Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – I enjoyed but wasn’t as absolutely in love with this book as many were, only because the story of generations of Dominican family was uneven in my engagement and attachment to the various stories and point of views.
  • Generation A by Douglas Coupland – Even when he’s imperfect his writing is enjoyable, this time his slightly unusual plot is about folks stung by bees, after bees have disappeared, though the weirder it got perhaps the harder to wrap up to a satisfying conclusion.
  • The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith – On Beauty was one of my favorite books so I took a step into the backlog for this and found that although it had elements of the writing and characters that I had so enjoyed, the unlikable protagonist often being lame kept me from really embracing it.
  • Falling Man by Don DeLillo – A look at the lives of a few people following the destruction of the twin towers, the writing often made me feel like I should just be spending more time appreciating the language of the book rather than trying to engage with the meandering story and at times disconnected characters.
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critic’s picks – best books of 2010

Another year, another list of recommended books that’s longer than I’ll ever get to. I just rechecked last year and I have yet to read any of those, though I have purchased Chronic City (for the record I’ve read three from the previous year). As always since I read fiction, I kept the nod to fiction. What have I been reading? Stick around and I’ll let you know the best of my year.

  • The New Yorker Stories by Ann Beattie – NYT
  • 61 Hours by Lee Child – JM
  • Wilson by Daniel Clowes – LG
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin – LG
  • Memory Wall: Stories by Anthony Doerr – Am
  • Room by Emma Donoghue – NYT, KV
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – NYT, PW, LG
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – MK, NYT, Am, PW, LG, MC
  • Faithful Place by Tana French – JM, LG
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon – LG
  • To the End of the Land by David Grossman – Am
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – PW
  • The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee – PW, KV
  • Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes – Am, LG, KV
  • The Lost Book of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason – MK
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell – MK, LG, MC
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray – Am, LG, KV
  • The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell – Am
  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – KV
  • One Day by David Nicholls – Am, KV
  • Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz – KV
  • The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – JM, Am, KV
  • So Much for That by Lionel Shriver – MC
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart – MK, MC
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – JM, Am
  • Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer – PW
  • Selected Stories by William Trevor – NYT
  • The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall – Am, PW, KV
  • Savages by Don Winslow – JM
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu – LG

MK – Michiko Kakutani for NYT, JM – Janet Maslin for NYT, NYT – New York Times, Am – Amazon Lit, KV – Karen Valby for EW,  PW – Publisher’s Weekly, LG – Lev Grossman for Time, MC – Maureen Corrigan for NPR

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procrastinator picks – best books of 2009

If you’ve followed along you’ll know that I never read anything that is actually release in 2009 until much later in the game. So since the critics have covered their picks of the new releases, I’ll highlight a few books I enjoyed over the past year. And although I’d share a top ten if I could I just don’t read enough to have ten that I’d actually recommend, so in alphabetical order:

  • Beautiful Children by Charles Bock – The mystery that starts the tale of Vegas homeless kids and some of those around them was so immersed in the culture that it almost feels like a slightly psychotic PSA and although the mystery itself was unfulfilling it had enough interesting characters and moments that it was an engaging tale nonetheless.
  • The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland – An author I always enjoy, readable and topical, this novel looks at a 40 year old loser and 20 something misfit who communicate through a journal starting at their less than fulfilling job at an office supply company, it’s full of amusement in their misery, though not the most intricate of plots their stories and the odd novel that is contributed within the texts kept me turning pages.
  • Continent by Jim Crace – An author I am trying to catch up with, after starting off with his wonderful Being Dead, his lovely writing adds to the intrigue in this series of short stories all set in a fictional location giving the ability to create familiar themes in an undeveloped unfamiliar territory.
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Following a journalist to her hometown to get the story when a school girl is found dead and another girl goes missing, what’s more interesting in this ‘thriller’ is the main character’s dysfunction and its sources, though the mystery wasn’t as satisfying the psychological context was well worth the read.
  • Slam by Nick Hornby – Another author I always enjoy, though High Fidelity may always be the favorite, this latest installment could have come across as a young adult teen pregnancy cautionary tale but is saved by the author’s usual bouts of witty dialogue and amusing nods to popular culture in well developed characters.
  • The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz – This first in a series of tales of the Spellman family of detectives immediately pulled me in as these folks clearly blur the lines between family and family business, we follow Izzy’s struggles with family and cases as she travels through San Francisco is a fun fresh take on detectives.
  • The Risk Pool by Richard Russo – Ever since I fell in love with Russo’s writing and storytelling in Empire Falls I have been going back and picking up his earlier works, like many others this is set in blue collar upstate New York and here we grow up with Sam’s son who is as impacted by the time he spends with his more than flawed father as his time without him.
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critic’s picks – best books of 2009

Another year of publishing gone by, and if you know me, you know I didn’t read anything new. So I will pass along some of the critical picks if you’re looking for something good. I tend to read almost all fiction so that’s what’s here.

  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi – LG
  • Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell – LG
  • Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon – PW
  • “Moe Prager” mysteries by Reed Farrel Coleman – NPR
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – LG
  • Spooners by Pete Dexter – Am
  • Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer – LG, PW
  • The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam – NPR
  • Tinkers by Paul Harding – Am
  • The Believers by Zoe Heller – NPR
  • Swimming by Nicola Keegan – LG
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson – Am
  • Big Machine by Victor Lavalle – PW
  • Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem – NYT
  • The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell – LG
  • The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell – WP
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – LG, WP, Am
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – Am
  • Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy – NYT
  • American Rust by Philipp Meyer – WP
  • The City & The City by China Mieville – Am
  • A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore – NYT, WP, Am, NPR
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin – LG, PW
  • The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk – WP
  • Brooklyn by Colm Toibin – Am, NPR
  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower – LG
  • This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper – Am
  • The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez – Am
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – Am
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls – NYT
  • A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert – NYT
  • The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter – LG, NPR
  • Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead – Am

Am – Amazon, LG – Lev Grossmas for Time, NPR – Maureen Corrigan for NPR, NYT – New York Times , PW – Publisher’s Weekly, WP – Washington Post

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my best books of 2008 (and 2007)

onbeauty.jpgWell another year of not reading enough to really recommend much, so I decided to pull together some picks from the past two years. In alphabetical order:

  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Telling the tale of the end of civilization in the not so distant future Atwood brings us along for the tale of how it all happened through perhaps the one surviving man.
  • JPod by Douglas Coupland – I don’t miss a Coupland (Microserfs and Generation X are still the faves) and dug his latest somewhat random, tied to current times tale of life in the cubicle zone with game developers.
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn – A tough but engaging memoir as Flynn tries to beat the ‘like father like son’ curse of writing and drinking and homelessness.
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – This book was all the rage for a while for good reason, super readable and compelling story of the drama of life with the traveling circus.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – From their days in boarding school to life as adults it’s intriguing to see how the unusually special students live their lives.
  • The Know it All by AJ Jacobs – I was amused and felt a little smarter as I followed the author on his real life quest to read the Britannica a to z relating it all to life, well his life.
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – When this Will Smith movie came out my dad handed me a tattered copy of the book it was based on, and for a vampire/plague tale first told in 1954 it holds up quite well (much better than the movie).
  • The Good Life by Jay McInerney – I always find McInerney super readable (Bright Lights, Big City and Brightness Falls would be my favorites of his) and enjoyed this take on romance and family around ground zero after 9/11.
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – The hostages and captors create an unusual life in their standstill, impacted by one man’s love of music and a little bad timing.
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith – Structurally based on Howards End this family drama filled with academics, race, adultery and all that good stuff is compelling from start to finish, my favorite of this author.

And of course there are the critics picks of books actually written in 2008.

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best books of 2008

2666.jpgI got a little lax this year and wasn’t bothered by some publications that couldn’t narrow their list down to a top ten, it’s always surprising how little agreement there is on top reads to start with. As usual I can’t chime in as I’m always too behind and too opposed to hardcover that I haven’t read any of these… (oh and these are fiction).

  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson – WA
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – BG, ST
  • Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan – EW, MC
  • The Book of Dahlia by Elisa Albert – EW
  • The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam – AC, BG
  • When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson – BG, T
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – MC, WA
  • The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry – BG
  • Peace by Richard Bausch – ST
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño – Am, NYT, T
  • The China Lover by Ian Buruma – ST
  • The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe – BG
  • Lost in Uttar Pradesh by Evan S. Connell – AC
  • Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas – KGB
  • So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger – Am
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – T
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh – BG
  • I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass – KGB
  • Fall of Frost by Brain Hall – BG
  • The Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif – BG
  • The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon – Am
  • The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher – Am
  • The Expeditions by Karl Iagnemma – ST
  • The Night Following by Morag Joss – BG
  • When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale – BG
  • Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kishner – ST
  • World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler – AC
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri – KGB, MC, NYT
  • Lavinia by Ursula K LeGuin – AC
  • Disquiet by Julia Leigh – EW
  • The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon – BG
  • The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey – EW
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri – T
  • Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen – AC
  • The End of the World by Alistair McCartney – ST
  • Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser – NYT, ST
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison – NYT, WA
  • What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn – BG
  • Netherland by Joseph O’Neill – Am, MC, NYT
  • Personal Days by Ed Park – T
  • Cleaver by Tim Parks – ST
  • To Siberia by Per Petterson – BG
  • Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock – Am
  • Lush Life by Richard Price – Am, EW, T
  • Serena by Ron Rash – Am
  • What Happened to Anna K by Irina Reyn – EW
  • Home by Marilynne Robinson – Am
  • Cost by Roxana Robinson – WA
  • Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong – AC
  • Indignation by Philip Roth – MC
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – T
  • Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw – EW 
  • The Size of the World by Joan Silber – ST
  • American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – EW, KGB, T
  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson – T
  • Olive Kittenridge by Elizabeth Strout – EW
  • The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike – T
  • Lucky Billy by John Vernon – ST
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski – Am, EW

AC – Alan Cheuse/NPR, AM – Amazon, BG – Boston Globe, EW – Entertainment Weekly, KGB – Karen Grigsby Bates/NPR, MC – Maureen Corrigan/NPR, NYT – New York Times, ST – Seattle Times, T – Time, WA – Washington Post

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happy anniversary!

0031.JPGWell it’s been a year since had its first post! Can you believe it? No, me neither. Since then I’ve upgraded from basic cable to standard cable, and don’t think it’s worth the money but don’t know if I could go back. I still have my old school tivo that only records one channel with a back up vcr, that lifetime membership makes it hard to pay to upgrade. Though I admit my next entertainment purchase just might be a flat screen television. I’ve watched more hours on television than I’d like to count. And of course I still spend a moment or two of my time on things other than tv like reading and going to the movies.

Anyhow, hopefully it’s been as fun to read as it has been to write. Thanks for all of your support, keep reading and watching. : )


– the procrastinator

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my best books

Cavalier and ClaySo I do a good amount of reading but I don’t think I can ever come up with ten really good books that I’ve read in a year, and I never read anything that’s actually put out in that year. And since this year for various reasons I read less than I usually do I thought I might just look back and recommend ten good books that I’d read throughout the years (though I do recommend On Beauty by Zadie Smith that I actually read this year).

Whilst reviewing my bookshelves what stood out aren’t just a few books, but a few authors that have consistently entertained me. Maybe next year I can come up with at least a top 5 books list, until then, here goes… Oh and of course I do have to caveat the fact that these may not be the best or even my favorite, depending on the day I make my list, but they’re all worth a read.

  • Michael Chabon – One of my favorite authors I’d really read almost anything by him, starting with the fun Mysteries in Pittsburg, enjoying Wonderboys, and adoring the epic The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay. I also recommend his short story collections, though I wasn’t in love with The Final Solution, I even broke down and read his young adult book Summerland (I think I may leave the young adult books to young adults). I have yet to read Yiddish Policeman’s Union or Gentlemen of the Road, but those did both come out in 2007.
  • Douglas Coupland – Started reading with super timely mid 90s Microserfs, and kept going, though sometimes uneven I’ve enjoyed the topical and witty books throughout the years, including among others Generation X, Eleanor Rigby, and JPod, though I have of course yet to read 2007’s The Gum Thief.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides – Well Oprah brought Middlesex back into the forefront and rightfully so, though not a typical Oprah book, it’s a beautifully written epic that spanned continents and generations as we met our transgendered Cal/Callie, this novel followed the earlier smaller scope Virigin Suicides that I somewhat recently reread and was again impressed with the craft of the peculiar story.
  • Nick Hornby – My favorite might still be the first, High Fidelity, where the list making record store clerk revisits his failed relationships but I am entertained by most including About a Boy and more recent Long Way Down. The only area I’m personally not engaged with is his football writing, but clearly it’s a passion, I have yet to get to the latest Slam.
  • John Irving – Well if you haven’t read the archives there’s a lot of backlog to go to, in fact I’ve missed a few of the earlier and later works but my list wouldn’t feel complete without noting the guy who wrote gems like A Prayer for Owen Meany, World According to Garp, and Hotel New Hampshire.
  • Jonathan Lethem – I was first turned onto him when I was recommended Motherless Brooklyn, a slightly irregular detective story where the detective has tourette’s, and was won over when I followed that up with The Fortress of Solitude, there are a good amount of earlier books, some pretty genre specific that I have yet to go back and sample.
  • Jay McInerny – McInerny reminds me a bit of Coupland in that I read a few books that seemed fun and noteworthy for the time like Bright lights big city and The Story of My Life, and am delighted to find that I enjoyed the later works like The Good Life.
  • Richard Russo – I started with Empire Falls which is an all time favorite and as I go back and read the earlier works, though maybe none meet my love of the first, I am consistently entertained by the amusing and touching way that the author treats his small-town cast in books like Mohawk and Straight Man.
  • David Sedaris – His amusing essays that you may have read or heard on NPR almost always make me laugh, whether it’s holiday stories from Holidays on Ice or family hijincks in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim among others, he brings self-deprecating tales to new heights.
  • Donna TarttSecret History sat on my shelf for ages before I finally started it and couldn’t put it down, after about ten years she put out another good one, the different but still incredibly engaging The Little Friend, I’m just waiting to see what comes next.

Two honorary mentions for authors who are consistently pretty good but have one book that I just loved: Barbara Kingsolver wrote the amazing Poisonwood Bible about a man who brings his wife and four daughters on his trip to be a missionary in Africa and Gregory Maguire impressed me with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which managed to not only create an amazing backstory to the Wizard of Oz but discusses very real complex issues through the fantastical setting.

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