03 January 2012

What I Read in 2011

The 10 best things I read in 2011 (in no particular order):

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
 I wrote a post on it, but the long and the short of it is, yes, it really is as good as they say. The 'peace' parts are pretty so-so, but the war parts are so incredible that it's still probably one of the greatest books ever written.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
Read it, then put it on the syllabus for a class I was teaching a few weeks later and read it again. A touching, funny, and generally wonderful book. The story of an awkward, overweight, comic-book reading nerd, but also a very intelligently done history, of a kind, of the Dominican Republic, and the story of a family. Not the kind of thing I normally go for at all, but this one is so smart and so funny and is really just a joy to read.

A Winter Book, Tove Jansson
Maybe my favorite Jansson book so far. She made my top 10 last year as well - I adore her. This one is also a series of vignettes, but it's about a relationship between two women, and it is a wonderful illumination of the vagaries of love and companionship.

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
Posted about this one as well - not a masterpiece, but just a very satisfying, pleasant read.

(Not that You Asked), by Steve Almond
Posted about it at length - intelligent, hilarious, and moving. I really enjoyed it.

Anecdotes of Destiny, Ehrengard, Winter Tales, by Isak Dinesen
Yes, I know, this is really a three-for-one. My love for Dinesen's writing is coming to rival the one I have for Tove Jansson. I am pretty much enraptured by every book of hers that I read.

The Marquise of O and Other Stories, Kleist
Posted about it. If you like Kafka, you must read these. They are cryptic and strange but absolutely incredible.

A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes
Posted about this one too (I have gotten so much better about doing it regularly!). A-mazing. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate what an utterly brilliant book this is.

Seraph on the Suwanee, Zora Neale Hurston
Posted. It's really messed up in a lot of ways, but it's also an incredible portrayal of love and insecurity.

The last slot is a toss-up between Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Chimanada Ngozi Adichie's That Thing Around Your Neck, Rebecca West's Return of the Soldier, Charlotte Lennox's Henrietta, or maybe even Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. I can't make up my mind, and I feel like if they don't make the cut, they should at least get an honorable mention.

Full list of what I read after the jump (because it's long, there needs to be a jump.)

1. Studies in the History of the renaissance, Walter Pater
2. Memento Mori, Muriel Sparks
3. Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud (x2)
4. Gilgamesh, Translated by Stephen Mitchell, (also Epic of Gilgamesh, Translated by Andrew George)
5. Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace
6. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Rainer Maria Rilke
7. Lucy, Jamaica Kincaid
8. Light in August, William Faulkner
9. Dziady, Adam Mickiewicz
10. Jealousy, Alain Robbe-Grillet
11. Ireland, India and Nationalism in 19th Century Literature, Julia Wright
12. The Dead School, Patrick McCabe
13. Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the US, Beppe Severgnini
14. Prize Stock; Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness; Aghwee the Sky Monster, Kenzaburo Oe
15. Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard
16. Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
17. Wittgenstein's Mistress, David Markson
18. Shamela, Henry Fielding
19. Magpie Rising, Merrill Gilfillan
20. Seraph on the Suwanee, Zora Neale Hurston
21. The Curtain, Milan Kundera
22. Le Pere Goriot, Balzac
23. The Stoic Comedians: Flaubert, Joyce, Beckett, Hugh Kenner
24. S/Z, Barthes
25. The Dalkey Archive, Flann O'Brien
26. The German Bildungsroman: History of a National Genre, Todd Kontje
27. Lucinde, Friedrich Schlegel
28. Melmoth Reconciled, Balzac
29. Ennui, Maria Edgeworth
30. Modern Epic: The World System from Goethe to Garcia Marquez, Franco Moretti
31. Saturday, Ian McEwan
32. Wild Irish Girl, Lady Morgan
33. Strange Country, Seamus Deane
34. Music (??? I have no idea)
35. The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, ETA Hoffman
36. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris
37. The Confusions of Young Torless, Robert Musil
38. Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, Michael Taussig
39. The Double, Dostoevsky
40. The Lover's Dictionary, David Levithan
41. Bai Ganyo: Incredible Tales of a Modern Bulgarian, Aleko Konstantinov
42. Consider the Oyster, MFK Fisher
43. Trotsky: A Graphic Biography, Rick Geary and Andrew Helfer
44. Talking to the Dead: A Study of Irish Funerary Traditions, Nina Witoszek and Pat Sheeran
45. On Poetic Imagination and Reverie, Gaston Bachelard
46. Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, Henri Bergson
47. Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Novalis
48. The Romance, Barbara Fuchs
*49. War and Peace, Tolstoy
*50. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (x2)
51. The Heat's On, Chester Himes
52. The Blind Side, Michael Lewis
*53. A Winter Book, Tove Jansson
54. The White Castle, Orhan Pamuk (x2)
55. Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner
56. Jazz, Toni Morrison (x2)
57. How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher
58. Good Women: Three Novellas, Jane Stevenson
59. East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey, Kader Konuk
60. Hadji Murat, Tolstoy
61. On Tremendous Trifles, GK Chesterton
62. The Fall, Camus
63. Carnet de Voyage, Craig Thompson
64. Ignorance, Milan Kundera
65. Coup de Grace, Marguerite Yourcenar
66. Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
67. Snow, Orhan Pamuk
68. The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West
69. The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen
70. The Epicure's Lament, Kate Christensen
71. Apology, Plato
72. Captive Mind, Czesław Miłosz
73. Georges, Alexandre Dumas
74. The Lover, Marguerite Duras
75. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
76. Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih
77. Uncle Silas, Sheridan LeFanu
78. Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon
79. Maus, Art Spiegelman
80. Erasure, Percival Everett
81. The Colored Museum, George Wolfe
82. Remapping the Rise of the European Novel, edited by Jenny Mander
83. Strange Concepts and the Stories they Make Possible, Lisa Zunshine
84. The Mighty Angel, Jerzy Pilch
85. Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais
86. The Hothouse by the East River, Muriel Sparks
87. The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman
88. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
89. Flaubert and Don Quijote: The Influence of Cervantes on Madame Bovary, Soledad Fox
90. The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester
91. Essential Neruda, Neruda
92. The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
93. Giovanni's Room, James Baldwin
94. Euthyphro, Crito, Plato
95. Wolf Hall, Hillary Mantel
96. Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
97. Poetics, Aristotle
98. Glover's Mistake, Nick Laird
99. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
100. The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe, Andrew O'Hagan
101. The Unfortunate Traveller, Thomas Nashe
102. Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard, Isak Dinesen
103. Shame and Necessity, Bernard Williams
104. Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
105. The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
106. Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, Jonathan Shay
107. Iliad, Homer
108. The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean
109. The Appointment, Herta Muller
110. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
111. The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
112. Eline Vere, Louis Couperus
113. Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin
114. In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, Anais Nin
115. The Devil's Elixirs, ETA Hoffman
116. Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes
117. Vathek, William Beckford
118. Play it as it Lays, Joan Didion
119. (Not that you Asked), Steve Almond
120.The Rise of Supernatural Fiction, 1762-1800, EJ Clery
121. The Monk: A Romance, Matthew Lewis
122. Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, Michael Eric Dyson
123. Greek Street, Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice
124. A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes
125. Comedy in a Minor Key, Hans Keilson
126. The Female Thermometer, Terry Castle
127. Zofloya, or The Moor, Charlotte Dacre
128. Baltasar and Blimunda, Jose Saramago
129. Henrietta, Charlotte Lennox
130. The Marquise of O and other stories, Kleist
131. A True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs Veal... Daniel Defoe
132. Winter Tales, Isak Dinesen
133. Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu
134. The Children's Book, by A.S. Byatt

For those who are wondering how on earth I can possibly remember all the books I read this year - I adore bookmarks. I have a lovely bookmark holder made for me by a friend. I take the bookmark off the front read a book, write the name of the book I've just read on the back (and the date I've finished it), and put it on the back of the pile. I've been doing this for years. I mean, the writing on the bookmarks thing started in like, 4th grade. The pile system started sometime in high school. But I have a few bookmarks where the top title is something I read in elementary school, it's pretty awesome.


Camilleon said...

Wow, that is crazy impressive. Two titles caught my eye in that long list. Fear and Trembling--I guess this a book with same title as Amélie Nothomb's Stupeur et Tremblements (the translation thereof)? If you haven't read any of her stuff--I would definitely recommend you try her out, starting with Métaphysique des Tubes (The Character of Rain). The second title was Kokoro--any good?

culture_vulture said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
culture_vulture said...

I will check out Nothomb, looks neat!
Kokoro didn't do much for me. I LOVED his I Am a Cat though - it was on my best of 2009 list.