Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2014 in Books

Can I just say how reprehensible it is that it's 2015?  I have entered the capital-F Future of my childhood, the world in which I had twins and the power of flight and some unknown but deeply fulfilling employment.  The reality is a little more ragged, but here I am.

And I'm reading.

(My younger, dreaming self hit that one on the nose- I could not, cannot, and will not imagine a life without reading.  I will read until my mind goes- it's flint to me, and tinder.)

2014 was the first full year of my son's life.  It is the first year I felt fully, unequivocally, tragically adult.  2014 closed the door on my early thirties and opened the chute to mortality. 

And oh, hey, there were books.  Goodreads tells me I read 43 books that I will admit to- and Lord knows there are several I won't

So without further ado, here are the six best books I read in 2014- in no particular order. There are six because I read too many fabulous books to stop at five! And even six was kind of like axing my children!  So happy Reading!

1) The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt).  Art, cocaine, suburbia, the meaning of life, some dude named Boris: Was there anything that wasn't stuffed into this stunner?  I say "stunner" because reading this novel will set you back on your heels, but also "stunner" because this sucker is really, really long and heavy and maybe a little bit poisonous.  It's the Shelob of novels, thread after thread after shining thread trussing you up for the kill.  And there's no Frodo to save you.  And you don't care.

2) All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (Jennifer Senior).   Half takedown, have ethnography- the modern, upper-middle class parent at work and play.  Wait, scratch play, because we hovering, martyred, profoundly anxious present-day parents have no time for play.  We're busy engaging in concerted cultivation of our offspring, which means that play is work and we have to Nail It, Damnit! A smart book that manages to be both wounding and exalting, like crucifixion.  Or, um, parenthood.

3) Men we Reaped (Jesmyn Ward).  A searing semi-autobiography examining the deaths of five young black men in Ward's orbit growing up.   No joke.

4) The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty).  Pure fun.  If fun were swallowing a small and expertly trained flea circus.  Which it is!

5)  One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).  I mean, you can't deny how good this is.  Awful and offensive and misogynistic and no fun at all to read, but really, really good.  I read it when I was roiling with fever, which on balance improved the experience. 

6) We are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler).  What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to be a family?  An examination of love and loss and identity and a  philosophical page-turner- and I never thought I'd string any of those words together without gagging, so.

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