Uncommon book recommendations for 2017

January 12, 2017

  

A twitter follower asked me to help him dig into some books he probably hadn't heard of. (To help with his 2017 resolution.) Here's my list. A few you might have heard of or even read (a few classics in there), but for the most part, I bet you haven't. And I loved every one:

  • A Manual For Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin. Stunning short stories. She was my mentor, so I wondered if I was biased, but then the New York Times heralded her as a lost genius, and I've yet to find anyone not awe-struck by these stories. And check out my appreciation of Lucia Berlin in Vanity Fair. And if it's not clear, that's her book cover up top.

  • Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson.

  • Henry IV, Part 1, William Shakespeare. Note: Part 2 is a completely different play--and terrible! Part 1 is fully self-contained. Part 1 might be my favorite of his. Up there with Macbeth. I love all the histories, that I've gotten to. Except Part 2!

  • The Last Magazine, Michael Hastings.

  • Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins.

  • The Architect of Flowers, William Lychack. Stunning short stories. Refreshing and intimate voice, wondrous prose, startling events. Click the pic for more info.

  • As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner. If you haven't attempted Faulker, this will blow your mind. Really frustrating at the start, till you learn to roll with it, but what a payoff.

  • Grunt, Mary Roach.

  • Creation, Gore Vidal.

  • The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco.

  • Wearing Dad's Head, Barry Yourgrau. Changed my perceptions of what was possible, as a writer. And so much fun to read! 

 

  • Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation. (Not what you think. Not boring, or long.)

  • The English and Their History, Robert Tombs. (I'm 200 pages in now. Best English history I've ever read, by far. And I've read a lot.)

  • Longitude, Dava Sobel.

  • Monster In A Box, Spalding Gray.

  • The Right Stuff, Tom Wolf.

  • The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger.

  • Conclusive Evidence (aka, Speak, Memory), Vladimir Nabokov. (My favorite book ever. His memoir. Dazzling. His publisher pressured him to change the name to Speak, Memory decades later, but I don't accept that title. He said the original referred to conclusive evidence of his having existed. Wow.)

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