It was a great year for reading. Eight books brought the greatest pleasure. The blurbs are taken from slightly longer notes in a sidebar to this blog.
The Children’s Act (Ian McEwan) “Classic McEwan. Magnificent, educational, satisfying”
The Bone Clocks (David Mitchell) “A massive entertainment with a sting in the tail. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in I don’t know how long.”
Slade House (David Mitchell) “A compelling, amusing tale of fiendish cleverness and surprise. Sheer pleasure.”
Freedom (Jonathan Franzen) “Showing the mystery and difficulty of growing up, and inviting our compassion for human frailty, it’s like the movie “Boyhood” writ vast.”
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz) “Through novels, I live lives I’ll never live. This is about the Dominican Republic. It’s written with verve and love, and I loved it.”
Gilead (Marilynne Robinson). “A triumph of voice. Novels are related to humanity’s burgeoning empathy. This extended mine. Haunting and affecting.”
The first three were by favorite authors. The last three were off a list of 21st century books expected to endure—now I can’t wait to complete the list. Honourable mention, also from that list: Dear Life: Stories (Alice Munro) “A master at work.”
In non-fiction, I really enjoyed Walking the Woods and the Water (Nick Hunt, retracing Patrick Leigh Fermor’s 1930s cross-Europe walk; great armchair travelling) and The Worm at the Core (Sheldon Solomon et. al., a surprisingly readable academic study of how our unconscious fear of death impacts our life). Honourable mentions: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (“A thrilling, extraordinary book”) and Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality by Crispin Sartwell (“A take-no-prisoners, balls-to-the-wall pursuit of the elusive truth of life and death.)
I spent most of the year rewatching my DVD collection until I was recently lent a box set of Larry David’s TV comedy Curb your Enthusiasm, and have been chuckling, laughing out loud, and being generally spellbound by that since.