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Being Mortal and Sense and Sensibility were both selections for my IRL book group (January and March, respectively), and we had a lot of excellent discussion for them at our meetings.
Foreigner was a reread, and I quite enjoyed the audio. I had also forgotten a lot of what happened, since I first read it eleven years ago.
And Lonesome Dove was part of the group read here. I think it is currently in the lead for best book I read in 2019, though it is early days yet and I usually don't bother trying to pick just one book.
My 1Q19 faves were The Orphan Master's Son, White Fragility, Sing, Unburied, Sing, and The Poisonwood Bible, with Things Fall Apart and Lincoln in the Bardo close behind. A good quarter for quality.
1) Yoko Tawada : The Last Children of Tokyo (aka The Emissary)
2) Philip K. Dick : Ubik
3) Ling Ma : Severance: A Novel
4) Meghan MacLean Weir : The Book of Essie
5) Margaret Atwood : Alias Grace
6) Michel Faber : The Book of Strange New Things
7) Naomi Alderman : The Power
8) Tarjei Vesaas : The Ice Palace
9) Sandrine Collette : Nothing but Dust
10) Laurie Foos : The Blue Girl
11) Larry McMurtry : Lonesome Dove
12) Tara Westover : Educated: A Memoir
Top fiction reads were:
- Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood - will be looking out for more from this author
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
- Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
There were plenty of other great fiction reads as well. I'd note The Blue Flower, The Great Lover, We Were the Mulvaneys and The Sparsholt Affair especially.
Top non-fiction read was:
- Unnatural Causes: The Life and Many Deaths of Britain's Top Forensic Pathologist
By far, the best of the lot was Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I read it, but I hear the audiobook is amazing.
Among the rest, I enjoyed:
Adele, Leila Slimani
Sweet Days of Discipline, Fleur Jaeggy
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night Heather O'Neill
Educated, Tara Westover
The Royal Physician's Visit, Per Olov Enquist
The Bulgari Connection, Fay Weldon
(For reference, here is a link to my Club Read thread.)
Best reads (in no particular order):
The gate of angels by Penelope Fitzgerald: piles on the small absurdities until it climaxes into a full-blown comedy.
Ten days in a mad-house by Nellie Bly: Riveting investigative journalism in an 1880 asylum.
The bluest eye by Toni Morrison: expertly done; really makes you feel what generations of repression does to a subculture.
De wereld een dansfeest or The world a dance party by Arthur van Schendel: perfectly balancing a sweet romance with distancing narration
- Convenience store woman by Sayaka Murata: letting an autistic main character shine
Authors I'm unlikely to read again (again, no particular order):
James Joyce: too self-indulgent; calls too much attention to his own writing
Hedwig Courths-Mahler: saccharine fairy-tale level upper-class romance
Fredrik Backman: feel-good stuff. (Not my cup of tea)
Robert McCammon: by-the-numbers 1980s action.
- Philip K. Dick: Unplanned plots that feel like first drafts, only he takes himself so seriously. Like A. E. Van Vogt, but without the zany fun that makes that sort of thing palatable.
Lonesome Dove is a stand out. I also loved two new books - The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.
I also read some great nonfiction:
Michelle Obama's Becoming - listen to the audio book!
SPQR by Mary Beard
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
I also started reading Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson and I'm really enjoying it. I'll read the 13 volumes over the course of the year.
Arrival by Ted Chiang
The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
- Berta Isla by Javier Marías
- The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
- Memories of the future by Siri Hustvedt
- The Canterbury Tales - I finally got around to reading them all the way through
- Christine Brooke-Rose - a writer I finally found out about very late in the day. Really enjoyed Between and Textermination, and I’ve got more of her books coming.
My Struggle: Book Three by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Survive FBT: Skills Manual for Parents Undertaking Family Based Treatment (FBT) for Child and Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa by Maria Ganci
Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning
*My Heart Laid Bare by Joyce Carol Oates (1998, one of her "American Gothics”and the only one I hadn't read. It's a spectacular historical historical fiction about an "all-American" con man and his family). Amusing with an uncomfortable eye on the present.
*The Wolf and the Watchman, by Niklas Natt och Dag (2019, Magnificent, dark, historical crime novel set in late 18th century Stockholm)
*Ghost Wall) by Sarah Moss (2018, UK) My third novel by Moss. Haunting story that I cannot summarize in one or two sentences.
*Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah (2018, UK) Splendid coming of age novel, about how the past informs the future. If new to Gurnah, I recommend you start read one or two of his early books first.
Couldn't decide which nonfiction was the favorite, the one on empathy or the one on why we dream, but I enjoyed both.