It’s time to take a look back at the reading we did during 2011. Teresa and I have developed a tradition of making, not exactly a “Best of” list, since we can never decide on a set number of “best” books, but a list of books that made an impression in one way or another. Without further fuss, here are mine!
Book I regretted most when it was over: Endless Things by John Crowley. This was the marvelous denouement of a wonderful, enchanted, dreaming tetralogy that I’ll never read for the first time again. But there’s always re-reading…
Books that made me laugh right out loud, causing others to look at me funny: Metamorphoses by Ovid; The Sibyl in Her Grave by Sarah Caudwell; High Rising by Angela Thirkell; Exercises de style by Raymond Queneau.
Book with the most satisfyingly foreseeable happy ending: (a tie!) The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery; The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Author that made me gush on and on to relatives, friends, fellow bloggers, students, and strangers on street corners, making them shift uncomfortably as I went on and on and on about how wonderful he was and how he turned my mind inside-out and took all the carpet-tacks out and rubbed my brain up the right way and put the tacks back in: Vladimir Nabokov. Sigh.
Most fascists: Jo Walton, in her splendid alternate-history trilogy, Farthing, Ha’penny, and Half a Crown.
Most seals (or were they?) : The Inn at the Edge of the World, by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Best classic: this is always the hardest category for me, especially since I spent the summer reading Greek and Roman classics I’d never read before. The Oresteia? The Metamorphoses? The Iliad? The Mill on the Floss? Oh, no, no, I just can’t.
Prettiest book: All Over Coffee, by Paul Madonna, with its lovely pen-and-ink views of San Francisco.
And last but not least, winning the title most recently held by John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, we have Worst Sex: the hands-down winner, even pushing out Lolita, is On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan. Oh dear me. You just want to get the poor kids a handkerchief. Or two.
I’ve had a wonderful reading year. There were one or two books I kicked out of bed for eating crackers, so to speak, but overall, I’ve read some of the most wonderful things I can remember. This year has introduced me to Nabokov, to Hoffmann, to Greek and Roman classics I ought to have read ages ago, to Ghosh, to Machado de Assis, and to dozens of others. I carried out my resolution to take second helpings of authors I’ve loved in the past, and to plan a little more so that I can read more, think more, write more. May it go just as well in 2012, for me, and for all of us!