I’m still working on expanding my reviewing, and was fortunate to land a new gig, so I’m looking forward to more in the coming year. I reviewed three books this year. They are therefore disqualified (and indicated in italics) from my top ten. I’ve also ordered several books written by friends but they may still be in the TBR pile, or not yet finished.
So, with the downtime I had at my disposal, excluding periodicals, and listening to podcasts excluded, here are the books:
Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical – Anthony Bourdain
Terrible Typhoid Mary – Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Deadly – Julie Chibbaro
The Lonely City – Olivia Laing
Open City – Teju Cole
Feral City – Jeremiah Moss
New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History – Erin Meister
The Power Broker – Robert Caro
John Winthrop – Francis J. Bremer
Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy of the Transformation of Modern Art – Judith E. Stein
The Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton
Mark di Suvero (edited by David R. Colleens, Nora R. Lawrence, Theresa Choi)
Work on the work-in-progress progresses, so I have started on readalikes. I’ve realized that there really is no way to tie in Typhoid Mary to the conceit of my book, but I have now read enough on her to consider myself an amateur expert. Halfway through the year I shifted my focus to Mark di Suvero, subscribed to Art in America, downloaded every article I could find at NYPL, and solicited a box of di Suvero family papers from the Smithsonian. And still I know so little that eking out 500 words took all I had.
All that said, The Power Broker occupied weeks and weeks of reading, even with using the audiobook. That book is long. I also saw the David Hare play, Straight Line Crazy, so I’m just about as up on Robert Moses as I am on Mary Mallon.
Reading resolution for this category: Continue with Mark di Suvero. Read other living Queens authors extensively for a workshop I hope to hold, with grants I hope to be granted.
Five Tuesdays in Winter – Lily King
The Last True Poets of the Sea – Julia Drake
The Latecomer – Jean Hanff Korelitz
An Honest Living – Dwyer Murphy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carre
Mercury Pictures Presents – Anthony Marra
Fellowship Point – Alice Elliott Dark
Natural History – Andrea Barrett
Shrines of Gaiety – Kate Atkinson
About Face – William Giraldi
Trust – Hernan Diaz
Trust Exercise – Susan Choi
I was surprised to see so few novels on my list, again, The Power Broker took up a lot of my summer. I was sad to leave the Lily King and the Kate Atkinson off my top ten list, but the memoirs below just nudged them out. The Marriage Portrait is in the queue.
Reading resolution for this category: See Queens authors, above. Otherwise, I will probably graze indiscriminately.
Bluets – Maggie Nelson
H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald
The Outrun – Amy Liptrot
Also a Poet – Ada Calhoun
The Lost Children of Mill Creek – Vivian Gibson
Easy Beauty – Chloe Cooper Jones
The Odd Woman and the City – Vivian Gornick
Reading resolution for this category: Don’t really have one? Crying in H Mart is waiting for me at the Astoria Library.
Animal Bodies – Suzanne Roberts
Orwell’s Roses – Rebecca Solnit
Like Love – Michele Morano
Hysterical – Elissa Bassist
Festival Days – Jo Ann Beard
All the Leavings – Laurie Easter
Bright Unbearable Reality – Anna Badkhen
Reading resolution for this category: I hope to review more in this category. I focus on collections published by indie and university presses.
Craft in the Real World – Matthew Salessas
A Swim in the Pond in the Rain – George Saunders
How to Write One Song – Jeff Tweedy
Reading resolution for this category: I am starting 2023 with a poetry workshop which has two rather daunting required texts, so, dare I say, I am good here?
Islands of Abandonment – Cal Flyn
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney – Dawn Raffel
Reading resolution for this category: I realize that this category is composed of writers with whom I took workshops in 2022, both of whom were super-kind and thoughtful.
The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter – Gillian Cummings
Long Rules – Nathaniel Perry
Reading resolution for this category: More, more, more.
Cozy old things and mysteries
Cheerfulness Sets In – Angela Thirlkill
The It Girl – Ruth Ware
The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny
Dying to Tell – Robert Goddard
Reading resolution for this category: this is the “something fun to read” category. It defies resolve.
Happy reading in 2023 to all!
Criticize John le Carré or compliment Kim Philby in comments on articles in the web and you’ll usually get swamped with criticism. So let’s not forget that David Cornwell’s Dad was an associate of the Kray Brothers and did time for insurance fraud. In the same breath don’t forget that Kim Philby was a cousin of Field Marshal Montgomery who was best man at Kim’s father’s wedding.
The foregoing facts are not so much hidden but rather don’t get the exposure they arguably merit because the events relating thereto must have helped shape the lives of both these well-known MI6 officers. What is also of note is that these officers knew each other and of course Philby wrecked Cornwell’s MI6 career.
Some interesting anecdotes about these two are of note in an intriguing news article in TheBurlingtonFiles website dated 31 October 2022 about Pemberton’s People (in MI6), ungentlemanly officers and SAS rogue heroes.
OK, I didn’t express an opinion about this book one way or another. I simply named it.
I love that book and the screen adaptations – you may have misread my comment which was that J le C = superb writer but awful spy – do look up why if interested – it is not well-known!
I haven’t “misread” your comment at all. You are taking one title out of a list of 50 to spread your unsolicited opinion on this blog post. Your opinion is noted. Sufficient. Please stop now.
Love this list! Some of my favorites are Bluets, Animal Bodies, and All the Leavings. I go back to H Is for Hawk again and again and reread sections. I’ll have to check out others on your list. Think you might like The Personal Librarian by Heather Terrell and Victoria Christopher Murray.