We’ve got unfinished business on the book list front. I felt a little guilty for not doing the second half of my reading list sooner. (For the first half, click here.) Sorry for giving you literary blue balls. That was pretty high school of me, so let’s remedy the situation straight away. What follows is the remaining 15 books I read during 2013:
16. Little Stalker, by Jennifer Belle. Who should read this book? Anyone who loves original characters and Little House on the Prairie. I’d give my designer purse collection (of four half-price Kate Spades from the outlet mall) to write half as well as Belle.
17. Some Assembly Required, by Anne Lamott. It’s impossible for me to withhold my adoration from Lamott. I love everything about her. I love following her on Facebook, going to her readings, re-reading her books– all of it. This book was a great installment to the Lamott canon. This may get me kicked out of her will, but I’ll say that the parts her son wrote could be a little dull. (Sorry, Anne and Sam, but I owe my 23 readers the truth.)
18. Hooked, by Les Edgerton. If you are so much as considering, maybe, possibly writing a book, you should read this. And, if you are, say, three drafts in and feeling like you want to hurl the whole thing out the damn window, read this. He’s so damn funny, lucid and irreverent. But best of all? Edgerton is joyful– about writing, about teaching others to write and about the JOY of WRITING. (Huh? Joy in writing? Is that allowed?)
19. One Last Thing Before I Go, by Jonathan Tropper. Here’s why Tropper is an author whose books I
read devour in one day: he makes the most pathetic characters seem loveable. I cared about protagonist Drew Silver, even as he fucked up seven ways from Sunday over and over. His loveable fuck-ups are some of the best in contemporary fiction. (Does that sound as pretentious as I think it does? Gag.)
20. Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson. MOST. ORIGINAL. NOVEL. EVER. When I ride public transportation to and fro, I find myself thinking, at least once a week, about how the artistic process is a metaphor in this book. Sometimes I think it’s a metaphor for addiction. Sometimes redemption. Sometimes dying. If you decide to read this, and you should, you should acquaint yourself with the Philip Larkin poem, This Be The Verse, famous for its line “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” I’m not sure if Wilson references the poem in his book– if he does, then go me with the awesome memory; if he doesn’t, then I’m a flipping genius for tying these two works together. You’re welcome.
21. Fancy Feet, by Heidi Cave. This book wins the “Blew me away totally” award for this year. I knew I’d find inspiration in Cave’s retelling of how she recovered from a tragic car accident that killed her friend and resulted in the amputation of both of her legs. But it was so real– there was anger, and despair and blind fury that she could have easily glossed over. Often when I’m lacing up my Brooks for a run, I think of Cave and all that she lost and how she face that with grace, humanity and ultimately gave us a great piece of art.
22. The Rest of Us, by Jessica Lott. Did you ever have a crush on one of your professors during school? If you went to school as long as I did, you’d have to say yes or you are totally shut down and should probably stop reading this and call in to Dr. Phil’s show. I was immediately drawn to this story that began as a love affair between a student and a professor. Reminded me of my days of pining for Prof. [redacted], who I am sure reads this blog because he secretly loved me too (and also is a stalker).
23. Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls. This was my second Walls’ book of the year. Here she depicts her grandmother’s hardscrabble life in the American southwest. You gotta hand it to the earlier generation who had to live in mud houses that could be washed away by flash flooding. There were points where the protagonist’s can do attitude really rubbed me the wrong way, but that could be because I am about a googolplex times more lazy than she is.
24. My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor. I think I said all I needed to say on my post devoted to my girl, SS.
25. Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin. I had seen those pastel-colored books all over the place and finally picked one up. Giffin tells a good story– who doesn’t want to sleep with her selfish best friend’s fiance? Oh, wait, I don’t. I found this hard to relate to because I don’t have shitty friends and I don’t sleep with my friend’s fiances. But it didn’t stop me from finishing it and there’s plenty of books I tossed aside with nary a care.
26. A Ticket to the Circus, by Norris Church Mailer. Let’s take a brief moment to talk about public libraries. I frequent them with my children, and usually have about four seconds to peruse the adult books before Simon craps his pants or Sadie puts audio books in her pants. I grab what I can, and when I get home, it’s often some pretty random shit. Like this book by Norman Mailer’s fifth (sixth) wife. What a fucking piece of work she is. She would be the Nene Leakes of the series “Real Housewives of Celebrity Authors,” and I’d tune in every single day without fail. Crazy, crazy, but oh so fun.
27. Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. This was my first toe-dip into 9/11 literature. It was a heartbreaking read as it was from the perspective of a kid who lost his dad in the attack. Also, you know how it’s a thing now to weave two stories together– one contemporary and one from another era. I love how Foer did that here. Also, Foer is practically young enough to be my son and he’s already writing such great novels. I am totally in awe of him.
28. Little Children, by Tom Perrotta. At the Yale Writers Conference last summer, I signed up for a master class with Mr. Perrotta. In advance, I read this book, which made me look askance at the parents at the park last summer. I had a hard time loving any of the characters, though Perrotta captured the shame and ennui of parenting in chilling detail.
29. Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout. I picked this book because Ann Patchett said she liked it. It didn’t disappoint– I thought the characters were tragic and believable. I recommended to my book club, all of whom hated it. I never went back.
30. This Is Where We Belong, by Emily Giffin. This one was better than Something Borrowed. The characters were more complex and the situation was more interesting. I loved the shout out to Lupa at the beginning, because it made me feel like I know NYC, even though it’s a total coincidence because it’s the only restaurant I know. Anyway, if you jump on the Giffin bandwagon, the start here.