Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Three Books of 2011

I looked over the books I read in 2011 and there were three books that stood out.

The best old book I read was John le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  I had no idea how wonderful the book was going to be.  I sort of knew a lot about it and John le Carre but had never read a single word of his.  Le Carre is such an interesting fellow that every time he a new book out there are always lots of reviews and interviews to read and listen to that I always felt familiar with him without ever reading him. (Slight exaggeration: I started and abandoned The Tailor of Panama when it was published - thought it was awful.)  Reading TTSS was like the first taste of lobster after only eating fish sticks.  Amazing.

The best new book I read was Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.  Like le Carre, Murakami is a darling of journalists and critics.  I have read and enjoyed his stories in the New Yorker over the years but for some unknown reason, never attempted to read any of his novels.  Clearly a mistake, I now know.  1Q84 is a novel about writing, a love story, a chase story, a revenge novel, a fantasy/alternate reality novel - it is a bunch of things, really, but all in one simple package.  It completely captured my attention and I did not want it to end.

The book that had the greatest impact on my life was Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog.  As I read it, I started to want a dog.  While I was reading it I found myself doing Google searches for dogs.  And a month or two later, out of nowhere, I found myself with the chance to get a dog. (Yes, I know people get dogs all the time but such a thing had been completely unthinkable for me.)  And now I have one.


Louis XIV, 'The Sun King' (Nick Jones) said...

Aww, now that is a cute dog. Almost makes me want to get a dog too.

Book Glutton said...

He is a pretty great dog. Today we drove my wife to work and took Georgia Avenue through the heart of Pelecanos-country. He does not like to be left behind. Having a dog does take up a lot of time. It cuts into one's reading time, too.

By the way - I've read 5 of your top 10 books (Pelecanos, Atkinson, Hubbard, Thomas, and Stark). I can believe Price is number 2 but are Cory and Marlowe really that good? I know this is a dumb question because you wouldn't have ranked them like that if they weren't but you get what I mean, right?

And Happy New Year.

Louis XIV, 'The Sun King' (Nick Jones) said...

They really are that good. I read both of them towards the end of the year and was more thrilled by their books than by pretty much anything else I read in 2011 – hence their standing in the top 10. Looking at it more objectively, I guess Ross Thomas, Kate Atkinson etc. could rank higher... but to hell with objectivity, frankly (I have little use for it at the best of times). Cory and Marlowe rocked my world, so for now, they're on top.