I had less time for reading this year than I would have liked. When I selected Drago Jancar’s haunting and beautiful The Tree with No Name for Slate’s Overlooked Books, it was still with the knowledge that I’d read a lot less fiction than I’d wanted. And Antal Szerb’s excellent, though modest Journey by Moonlight is a bit of a cheat, since I read it (and wrote about it) when Pushkin Press published it all the way back in 2003, rather than when NYRB Classics reissued it this year. It’s stayed with me, though, so I can pick it with more certainty than some of the other choices.
Seeing Richard McGuire’s long-gestating Here finally be published bookends my reading the original 8 page version in RAW when I was 13, when it changed my life. I wrote about the original Here in 2003 too.
And Alonso de Ercilla’s 1569 Spanish-Chilean epic The Araucaniad has been an alluring title to me since I read about it in David Quint’s fascinating Epic and Empire in connection with Lucan’s Civil War. Quint described The Araucaniad as one of those rare epics that takes the side of the losers, and it’s one of those artifacts, like Lucan’s Civil War, that doesn’t fit neatly with any common sense of literary history. Its relevance stems from its own grim variation on a theme that is at the heart of so many great epics and books: in Quint’s words, “that those who have been victimized losers in history somehow have the right to become victimizing winners, in turn.” It deserves a new translation.
As with last year, I haven’t read the entirety of some of the nonfiction selections: Chris Wickham is an excellent historian but I’m not going to deny that some of his Annales-ish wonkery had my eyes skimming. And while the biology and physics books are pretty interesting, I can’t say with much certainty that they’re accurate.
If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks again for reading my work here or elsewhere.
(As always, I do not make any money from these links; they’re just the easiest way to get the thumbnails.)
William H. Gass (NYRB Classics)
Erich Auerbach (Princeton University Press)
Charles H. Kahn (Cambridge University Press)
Michael Silk, Ingo Gildenhard, Rosemary Barrow (Wiley-Blackwell)
D. F. Swaab (Spiegel & Grau)
David Quint (Princeton University Press)
Stanislas Dehaene (Viking Adult)
(Princeton University Press)
Graham Priest (Oxford University Press)
Jan Assmann (The American University in Cairo Press)
Jonathan Israel (Princeton University Press)
Andrew Pettegree (Yale University Press)
R. Taggart Murphy (Oxford University Press)
Amit Hagar (Cambridge University Press)
Alice Goffman (University Of Chicago Press)
Evan Osnos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alex Wright (Oxford University Press)
R. R. Palmer (Princeton University Press)
Juan Cole (Simon & Schuster)
David Carr (Oxford University Press)
Sean Hsiang-lin Lei (University Of Chicago Press)
Daniel R. Huebner (University Of Chicago Press)
Martin J. S. Rudwick (University Of Chicago Press)
Tony Hey, Gyuri Pápay (Cambridge University Press)
Chris Wickham (Oxford University Press)
Paul Slack (Oxford University Press)
Frank Pasquale (Harvard University Press)
Cyprian Broodbank (Oxford University Press)
Carl Barks (Fantagraphics)
Carl Barks (Fantagraphics)
George Carlson (Fantagraphics)