One of my resolutions was to read 24 books in 2017. I reached the goal and look forward to aiming for it again in 2018. The list of what I read over the past year follows. It’s an assortment of American, French, English, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish and Spanish writers. Some are classics, some were recently published, and some I’ve read previously and wanted to revisit. I actually love to reread books, which is a good thing because we have an extensive collection and it helps save money.
1. Shyness and Dignity by Dag Solstad
2. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
3. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (reread)
4. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (reread)
5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
6. 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
7. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
8. Submission by Francois Houellebecq
9. The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya
10. Rabbit Run by John Updike (reread)
11. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (reread)
12. Remembrance of Things Past/also known as In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust – There are 7 volumes total, but I only read Swann’s Way and part of Within a Budding Grove (Madame Swann at Home). I’m still counting this as a book because it was over 650 pages.
13. A Sport and A Pastime by James Salter
14. Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis
15. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (reread)
16. The Man of Feeling by Javier Marias
17. A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
18. The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis
19. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (reread)
20. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series
21. St. Marks is Dead – The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street – by Ada Calhoun
22. The Ghost Writer by Phillip Roth (reread)
23. Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull (reread)
24. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
25. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Things were less disciplined after I met the goal of 24 around November. I read some stories in both A Fistful of Fig Newtons by Jean Shepherd (repeat), and Collected Stories of Lydia Davis before ditching both for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I am such a big fan of the Harry Potter series and couldn’t believe I hadn’t read this yet.
Books are personal and it’s hard to recommend things to an anonymous internet audience. Every single book on the list was interesting to me and felt worthwhile. I could write a post about each but here are a few notes on the selection. I am pretty smitten with Zadie Smith and Phillip Roth, and am starting to feel that way about Javier Marias. Ernest Hemingway was probably an obnoxious friend/husband, but his writing is really All That. Lucia Berlin’s short stories are some of the best I’ve ever read. Houellebecq is controversial and provocative so that’s why I read his book. Barbara Pym appeals to my UK obsession – her book was like a bittersweet British comedy on PBS. Lagercrantz carries on the story of Lisbeth Salander well enough for me to continue reading the series. As a former literature student, I wanted to include books by writers I didn’t know well but are well-regarded, like Dag Solstad’s Shyness and Dignity, Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, and James Salter’s A Sport and A Pastime. Paul Auster’s skillful novel 4321 made me think I need to read more Paul Auster. I doubt I’ll revisit Proust, but glad I made the effort. I appreciate the merits of his phone-book sized work, but the slim Diving Bell and Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby is probably more meaningful to me. The book Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is a favorite despite the tedious love story – the real power is found in sections when the narrator is an elderly man. Orwell’s description of working in Paris kitchens and living on a shoestring budget is travel writing at its best. And of course, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a cult favorite of many readers, dreamers, science fiction fans and travelers.
What were your favorite books of 2017? Do you love any of the authors I mentioned? Share a book recommendation with me!