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Saturday, December 26, 2015

The 2015 Streak (Vs. The 2014 Semi-Slump)

While it's still fresh on your mind, would you call this past year more or less memorable than 2014 with respect to the books you finished?

For me, 2015 was a much stronger year. I had my first experience with several prodigiously talented authors - Anthony Doerr ("All The Light We Cannot See"), Neil Gaiman ("The Ocean At The End of The Lane"), Jill Lepore ("The Secret History of Wonder Woman"), Daniel Woodrell ("The Maid's Version"), to name a few.  I returned twice to the gifted Colm Toibin - "Nora Webster" early in the year and "The Master" toward the end. Essays in the NY Times led me first to "The Road to Character " (David Brooks) and later to Sherry Turkle's "Reclaiming Conversation". What a streak.

Now, a book I recently finished - "The Devotion Of Suspect X"  - has persuaded me to pay more attention in the future to crime novels, a genre I've mostly avoided. This 2005 thriller by Keigo Higashino is as riveting as it is psychologically astute. And though the denouement pulling the whole thing together is satisfying- and true to form - I'm sure the penultimate scene will remain with me longer than the solved mystery. In that scene, as the object of devotion realizes how far Suspect X has gone to protect her, the twists and turns of the story fade as the heartbreaking prose reduces a complex tale to the elemental.

 If "Devotion..." ends up the final novel I finish in 2015, the year will end on a fiction high, making that part equivalent to last year; Celeste Ng's stunning debut "Everything I Never Told You" was my fiction finale in 2014. Still, this year was clearly superior to last even though I never got through a classic in 2015. Actually, considering my recent track record with novels from the canon, maybe part of the reason 2015 feels so much stronger is connected to skipping my cultural vegetables this past year.


  1. My reading year has been less memorable than last - in quantity if not in quality. Most memorable were non-fiction: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Don't Even Think About It by George Marshall, and the Pope's Encyclical, Laudato Si - Care for our Common Home, lead my list. Now, if only my actions spoke as loudly as their words.

  2. This year was better than last because of my newfound fascination with short stories/novellas. I highly recommend the following three story collections, all released in 2015: Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson, The Tsar Of Love And Techno by Anthony Marra, and Thirteen Ways Of Looking by Colum McCann.
    Concerning book clubs, I've settled into a discussion pattern that's enjoyable - three book groups and one story group per month. I lead two of these on a rotational basis which is quite an experience. My current and possibly final read of the year? Carole King's 2012 powerhouse musical memoir - A Natural Woman.
    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, and to book-music-film lovers everywhere!

  3. Oh yes...that penultimate scene when Yasuko takes it all in-when the reader takes it all in and understands the significance of the title. I also read Nora Webster and All the Light-just picked up Shuggie Bain finally, thanks to your reminder! LG

    1. "Anonymous"/LG; Thanks for the comment on a post written 6+ years back! Wasn't that penultimate scene in "Devotion..." great? Thanks also for telling me the other two books where we've overlapped. Re "Shuggie Bain": KR deserves credit for telling you about that one; I haven't read it yet. Hope to see more from you here on the bell curve.