The Best Book of the last ten is Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch!
Highly recommended: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann!
Classics Club has announced another spin, in which we post 20 books from our Classics Club lists. On April 22, the club will pick a number, and that will determine the book we read for our spin by May 31. So, with no further ado, here is the list for my spin.
Yesterday, I posted my review of the last of the 2011 shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize, so it’s time for my feature where I decide whether the judges got it right. The 2011 shortlist offers a lot to like, although I found a bit to dislike in it, too.
It’s easy for me to dismiss one of the books. I did not like Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, an ironic, superviolent Western, at all.
I was a little more interested in Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan’s dual time-frame story about how jealousy affects an American blues band hiding in Nazi-occupied Germany and Paris. However, I didn’t really like most of the characters and I wasn’t in love with the vernacular used to narrate the novel, which I believed was probably not historically accurate.
Snowdrops by A. D. Miller paints a chilling picture of life in post-Cold War Russia. I felt this was an engaging thriller and character study with a narrator made unreliable by his willful ignorance.
I was enchanted by the narrator of Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, a naive 11-year-old boy from Ghana, and the novel invoked in me a growing dread. However, I felt that the role of the pigeon didn’t really work.
Jamrach’s Menagerie just plain tells a fascinating story, about a 19th century boy who is rescued from poverty by a menagerie owner and who sails off on a mission to find a dragon. This novel features wonderful storytelling.
The winning novel was Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending. Barnes is a master of the unreliable narrator, and this novel is no exception. Through reading the diary of a friend who committed suicide, the narrator learns that everything he remembers about the key relationships in his life is wrong.
Although this time it was a tough decision, I have to agree with the judges. Barnes’s book is short but psychologically fascinating and complex. I would also pose that it is the novel that is the most literary of the shortlisted books. I strongly recommend some of the other books, however, particularly Jamrach’s Menagerie.
Starting with my 1300th review, I decided to do my Best Book series differently. Because I have gone to three postings a week, the Best of Five post came roughly every other week. Now, I plan to do this post every ten books instead, permitting me to post a few more reviews in the same period of time. So, this post will appear roughly once a month but may mention more books.
The Best Book for this period is Crow Lake by Mary Lawson!
Since it is my blog anniversary today, I follow my tradition of posting my top ten books that I reviewed during the previous year. This year was a difficult one, because I had three books by Dorothy Whipple appearing in my Best of Five series, and my rule is to select only one book by an author in my year’s top ten.
As usual, this is a mixed bag of books, combining one nonfiction and one short story collection with several classic books and only one contemporary one (if you don’t count multigenerational sagas). Historical novels feature quite heavily this year.
So, with no further ado except a comment that this year I decided to list them in backwards order from when they were posted, here are my top ten books for this year:
A guide to hiking in Southern Washington and Northern Oregon for people who are out of shape
A YA Book Review Blog
A Writer and His Reading
by M.K Tod
"Vivre le livre!"
Book reviews and bookish-related articles.
For book lovers everywhere
I read a lot of books.
"History is a vast early warning system." Norman Cousins
And for summer days
Blogging about the books in my life and my life in books
Reviews of books...and occasional other stuff.
Reads Worth Remembering
The painful travails of moving with a hoarder
"She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers" - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
A word after a word after a word is power. --Margaret Atwood