I read a lot of books and most of the books I read, I really enjoy. They all have nuggets I find in them which are just delightful. There are some books that just stick with me after reading them. They get a reaction from me, such as "Ohhhh! You have to read that one!" These are the 10+1 books that stuck with me all year or immediately after reading them.
There were three books that have stuck with me all year and two of them, I had the chance to read advanced copies of in January, so I had a great start to the year. Each one is different in its own way, but when asked "what was your favorite book this year?" Lincoln in the Bardo will come out of my mouth first, Sing, Unburied, Sing second, and Borne will come out third. Then the person will get angry because he/she asked for just one book.
Bardo got to me because it is the deconstruction of a book. It tells a lot in the complex, yet simple way it is told. The story itself was good, but how the story was told blew me away. I had no warning when I started this book and I did not like it the first few pages, but when I figured the rhythm and kept an eye on which publication or ghost was speaking, I was enraptured. I highly recommend the UK cover too.
Sing, Unburied, Sing is similar to Bardo. I had no idea what I was reading, in fact, I started it a week after Bardo and thought publishers had gone crazy for the year. Once I figured this was Ward, writing in the style of Faulkner, I just fell into the book. It is a rough book too and not light.
Neither Bardo nor Sing are books for everyone, which is why I talk about Borne to people. Vandermeer is becoming one of my favorite Sci Fi authors as he writes just straight Sci Fi. His worlds are different, usually with a nature spin on the story telling, but they are just good. Borne is a world that is alive, has a witch and a bear fighting, and is a dark dystopian world.
There is no order to this list and these two books have nothing to do with one another, except they were books which stand out and are two books I have given away often.
Option B is one of the best books on living after a loved one has died. Sandberg begins with the story of the death of her husband and is raw and open about feelings and the deep difficulty of moving on, but having to move on. I have given this book away to some in my life who have lost loved ones and I know it has helped.
Coates' essay book about the 8 years of Obama is much needed, especially during this time. These are deep, yet short essays about items that were happening within each year of the Obama Presidency around race and race relations. Coates does not paint Obama into a pretty picture, but talks about the difficulties found within that year. A great book.
These two would fall under the funny, yet difficult biographies section, if I had such a section.
Alexie's autobiography on the death and relationship with his mother will have you both laughing and crying at the same time. His storytelling about his relationship with his mother, who had mental health issues, and her death are mixed with funny stories about poop and poetry he had written around those times. While the poems are not his strongest, I wondered if they were more journal entries or right at that moment poems.
Priestdaddy snuck up on me. I got it from Book of the Month on a whim. This is mostly about Lockwood's relationship with her father, who is a Catholic priest converted from Lutheranism. He is quite a character too. Almost Al Bundy like, as he rarely wears pants in the house and has some strange things come out of his mouth. This book was funny and I just loved it.
These two books deal with death and relationships following death.
I am a huge Tin House Publishing fan, as most of the books they take on stick with you for a long time. While reading it, Rabbit Cake was not my favorite book of the year, but as I looked at the cover, I remembered everything about it. The madness after death, the brokenness of relationships, and just missing mom while trying to hold onto dad who is losing it. The more I thought about the book, the deeper is stuck with me, so it made the list!
Autumn is just beautiful. I have not read an Ali Smith book before and after reading Autumn, I ran out to grab more of her books and even ordered Winter from England, so I can read it before it comes out in the States. This is about platonic friendship between and older man and a young woman. It is told by different narrators, including Daniel who is the older man and is dying (boy a lot of my favorites are about death or dying). The book is looking back at life and taking a moment to appreciate the relationships along the way. The great thing is, Smith doesn't make it romantic as one would expect, except the main character, Elizabeth, has a hard keeping boyfriends because no one measures up to the love Daniel has shown her.
Since I have picked so many books about death, how about some life ones...that also deal with death...sorry, it really wasn't my intention.
My last blog post was about Future Home of the Living God and I ended the post by saying, this one snuck into my best list and it is true. I describe this as Erdrich writing her own Margaret Atwood type book. One does not know what is going on and that is half the fun. It is about the strength of womanhood in the face of death and the desire to give life.
Long Way Down also snuck up on me. There is a juggernaut YA book that probably most people have read by now called The Hate U Give. It has been on the YA bestseller list for the entire year. That would have been on my list too, but I wanted to shine a small light on a smaller book that is just gaining traction.
This book is written in verse and takes place entirely within an elevator. Will is on his way to murder the man he believes killed his brother. Each floor has another person who has died by the hands of someone else within the community. The main lesson is the cyclical nature of death and murder, but being told through verse popped the book out a bit. It is a very short and quick read, but so well done.
That is my list. I have others that would have made a "get this one too" list, but I tried to stick to 10 and turned it up to 11! I hope you enjoyed it.