My list pays no attention to publication dates or how long a list should be. These are just the books I read this year that stuck with me, that might be the answer to, “Read anything interesting lately?” (Arranged chronologically, in the order I read them.)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: I assigned this to my Johns Hopkins novel-writing workshop because I think it’s one of the most perfectly structured novels. As Mary Poppins would say, “Practically perfect in every way.”
The Wilding by Benjamin Percy: Not perfect, but the echoes of Deliverance made this a memorable, stay-up-late-to-finish, literary page-turner.
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose: One of the best craft books I’ve ever read. Watch out, Converse students…you’re getting this one on your lists!
The Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner: I cannot believe it took me so long to discover his writing; I especially loved the stories about growing up in western Canada.
Rats by Robert Sullivan: What can I say? This guy made rats in Manhattan utterly fascinating.
Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge: Not many writers could create such suspense in a novel set on the Titanic, and not many writers could make a rich, pretty boy sympathetic…she did both.
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder: Actually being in DeSmet, SD, while rereading some of the “Little House” books was instrumental, but I felt a greater appreciation for this “book in the middle” that had never been as beloved as the others when I was growing up.
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock: Dark, darker, darkest. Yes.
The Might Have Been by Joseph M. Schuster: Baseball and midlife angst explored with immense wisdom and scope.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: Still a masterpiece about the war, human nature, and the importance of art.
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon: Linked short stories about military wives and the myriad of battles they face. An intelligent, heartfelt book that left me brimming with quiet anger and admiration.
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway: What it is to grow up, still, and a good bookend to The Great Gatsby, to complete an excellent year in books.