June 2016

At this point, given that nobody goes to websites anymore, and given that I'm so active on Twitter and Facebook, I should probably just shut my website down. But I've kept up this book log for so long! I can't bring myself to part with it. So here's another update! The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien She's a master and this is masterly, though the bit with the dogs seemed sort of tacked on.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby I bought this in an airport when I was about to leave for a lonely trip, and it made me feel like I had company.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett I was such a nudnik with Michael's editor at Harper Collins that she finally let me have a galley of this book. I loved it!

Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet Weird and wonderful.

Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh She's such an amazing writer. Woefully under appreciated.

Noonday by Pat Barker The Regeneration Trilogy are three of my favorite books of all time. It's not fair to Barker. The bar is just too high.

Loving Day by Mat Johnson He's brilliant and this book is marvelous.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith If I could give this 11 stars I would.

A Train in Time by Elizabeth Farnsworth Unlike anything I've ever read. Incredible.

Here I Amy by Jonathan Safran Foer Amazing first half. The Israel stuff left me cold.

The Nest by Cynthia D'aprix Sweeney Fun!

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota Fabulous. Tragic.

Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta I think my favorite of her books

The Way to the Spring by Ben Ehrenreich The best book about the horrors of the Palestinian occupation that I've read in a very very long time.

March 2016

High Dive by Jonathan LeeYesterday I spent the day ignoring my work and my family, because I couldn't look up from the pages of this book. It's that good! Poignant and funny, beautifully written. It's a marvel.

Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in that House by Meghan Daum She's a wonderful essayist, and even though I don't sympathize with the house thing (I bought my house 19 years ago and plan never to move), I was swept up in these essays.

And Again by Jessica Chiarello A good, fast, entertaining read.

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein Prepare to have your mind blown by this amazing book.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain A reread, every bit as amazing the second time around.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters Kept putting it down, not sure why.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler I loved this.

We That Are Left by Clare Clark Not bad, though it didn't stick with me.

The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus Quick and fun.

Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg Excellent sequel by my dear friend Sylvia!

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James At first I was utterly blown away. Eventually I became obsessed with some narrators and less with others, but that's to be expected.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg Fun, fast.

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont Enjoyable

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders Off the hook, and I despise young narrators as a rule!

Up the Down Volcano by Sloane Crosley Fun.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood Excellent though so fucking bleak.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson He's hilarious

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Amazing as ever.

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari Informative.

Mislaid by Nell Zink This book is great, though I admit that I didn't rush to read it every day. It took more time than usual to get through.

Rosalie Lightening by Tom Hart Prepare to be devastated

A Sliver of Light by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fatal and Sarah Shourd Astonishing story, very well told.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue It's rare that a book is so fascinating, so emotionally compelling and so beautiful that I literally can't put it down. I picked this up one evening before bed. I turned the last page at dawn. It ruined the next day for me--I wasn't much good for anything but a nap--but it was worth every lost hour.

Lost Cat by Caroline Paul So sweet!

American Housewife by Helen Ellis Terrific stories.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister Fascinating and beautifully constructed and written.

October 2015

I am working on a project that I'm so incredibly excited about. Can you guess what it is, based on this month's reading? Black Hearts by Jim Frederick This incredibly story of what can go desperately wrong in war riveted me.

Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel Terrific and terrifically sad.

Love My Rifle More than You by Kayla Williams Insight into a women's experience in the US Army.

Band of Sisters; American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt Interesting stories.

What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas Just couldn't get into this

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida Amazing. Hilarious

The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret Sweet and sad and funny and wonderful.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen A fun, quick read.

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont A good read.

September 2015

This month my reading has been much like my writing: scattered and unfocused. Random, even. It’s not that I haven’t read wonderful books, but that I don’t seem to know what I’m reading for. I fear this is because I can’t seem to figure out what I’m writing.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews A beautiful book, but one I found it very hard to keep reading at times. I picked it up, I put it down. Over and over again.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante This book, like it’s predecessors, manages to capture the propulsive yet meandering nature of life itself. Things don’t happen for reasons, people don’t act in ways that make sense. It’s magical.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr I find it disturbing that I disagreed with so much in this book.

Left of the Bang by Claire Lowdon Very British.

The March by E.L. Doctorow I still loved this novel upon rereading, but its portrayal of Black characters disturbed me slightly.

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins Holy shit. Incredible.

August 2015

This has been a strange couple of months of reading, as I try to figure out what my next project will be. Though reading is my greatest pleasure, nowadays I mostly read books that have something to do with what I'm working on. Sometimes I read to learn facts, but mostly I read to learn about structure, to be inspired by the way other, better writers do things. As I've sort of toggled back and forth between ideas, my reading has shifted, too. Alice & Oliver: A Novel by Charles Bock This one was purely for pleasure. A galley came across my desk. The book is devastatingly beautiful.

Ashley's War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon I learned a ton.

Redeployment by Phil Klay Turns out this book is every bit as good as everyone said it was.

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore Just a quick distraction. I always enjoy a juicy gothic.

Fobbit by David Abrams Juicy and maddening in the best way.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman Rereading every bit as fabulous as the first time.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel I want the sequel! And another after that.

The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro Glorious sentences.

July 2015

Once again I find myself reading for work (as ever). See if you can guess based on some of the books in this list what I'm working on! The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits I adore this book. It's her best.

Euphoria by Lily King This swept me away. I couldn't put it down for a minute.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf He's one of my favorite writers. I'm dying to adapt this as a film, but someone got there before me.

Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta Brilliant writer. A little hard going for me.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff Run, don't walk, to read this book. It's amazing.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff Lovely and heart-breaking.

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer This is the best novel about California I've read in I don't know how long.

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley God, I hate books about spirituality.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe I also hate books about the counter culture.

LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann Incredibly fascinating.

Myself and I by Constance A. Newline Seriously fucking weird.

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf Why didn't I reread this a decade ago?

The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman Mind-blowing.

Started Early, Took my Dog by Kate Atkinson Super fun quick read.

Husband and Wife by Zeruya Shalev Tore my heart out by the roots.

Drug Crazy: How We Got Into this Mess and How We Can Get Out by Mike Grey Best book on the drug war.

March 2015

It's been quite a while since I updated this log. I've been reading plenty, just not updating. My reading has been focused on my new novel, which has gone through various transformations. By and large I've been searching for book that have interesting, unusual structures, making use of alternative media. I've come to the conclusion that in this realm, less is more. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan This is a reread. I had no idea how fucking genius this book was the first time I read it. I was distracted by the music (I'm not so into music) but whatever. Who cares if you're into music? This book is so gorgeous and true. And deeply creative. The powerpoint knocked my socks off.

Night Film by Marishal Pessl I can only imagine how much this book cost to produce. Actors and photographers and graphic designers oh my. It didn't really work for me, but that's just personal.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple A fun reread.

The Three by Sarah Lotz Sort of a horror science fiction thing. Fun, but I wanted a little more Stephen King in the ending.

Us by David Nicholls I was deeply afraid the ending would be sappy, but it wasn't.

Paper Love by Sarah Wildman Ambitious, accomplished. Terrific.

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis It took me a dozen starts to get into it, but when I finally did, I enjoyed it.

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger If you like to read fluff at the beach, say, this is ideal.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson A sequel to Life After Life. A great read. I am not obsessed with it as I was with Life After Life, but how could I be?

Samaritan by Richard Price His best book, I think. The female cop is one of the best characters I've ever read. Love.

Tale of a Certain Orient by Milton Hatoum Complicated and difficult but worth persevering.

On Immunity by Eula Biss This book is remarkable. Read it.

December 2014

Up and down, up and down. Great books and a lot of shitty TV. That pretty much describes my autumn. I have been touring endlessly for Love & Treasure, meeting amazing readers in far flung places. Somehow being on a plane makes me gaga and I stare mindlessly at the TV screen rather than dip into a good book. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine A massive leap forward for Rabih. A gorgeous book.

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis I had to read this in short bursts. It was quite nearly unbearable to live for long with these astonishing and astonishingly vile characters.

The New Confessions by William Boyd I love Boyd when he sprawls. And since my new novel is sprawling, I needed some of his.

Girl at War by Sara Novi´c The first 100 pages of this will knock your socks off.

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard I'm so completely over the Holocaust novel featuring the innocent child. Still, Shepard managed to bring me in and blow my mind. At least there were no fucking good Germans.

Trial by Fire by Gerry Spence Read for work.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel I fucking LOVED this novel. Please go buy it immediately. And please pay full price.

Some Luck by Jane Smiley She is the master.

September 2014

This month I seemed to sink into reading, glad to be home, perhaps. Glad of the break before my various projects hit me full force. Every single thing I read was wonderful. That in and of itself is a miracle. The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai This book somehow wandered into the house, and I'm so glad it did. It was an unexpected delight.

My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante These three novels in the Neapolitan trilogy are simply breathtaking. Remarkable. I can't bear that I have to wait a year for the final installment.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan Masterful, as ever.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay My advice? Read this with a friend so you can sob together.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay I can say only what I said in my blurb, prodigious bravery and eviscerating humor. If you aren't already a Bad Feminist, you will be by the time you finish the book.

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner There is not doubt this is well written and charming. A lovely way to spend a day. But I have to admit to being somewhat over the "white boy goes abroad and treats a bunch of women badly" genre.

August 2014

This has been a weird and stressful summer, both personally and in terms of the various cataclysms in the world. I read, but with less focus and pleasure than normal. I wonder if there are others out there who had the same experience over the past long, unhappy months. The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig This aching and lovely memoir of a lost world by a man who went on to kill himself seems tragically appropriate to the times.

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald This distracted me for a bit

Consequences by Penelope Lively Lovely novel.

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively Harder for me to focus on.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff I just whipped through this. The most fun reading all summer.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom Marvelous.

June 2014

This hasn't happened once in the decade since I started keeping this log, but somehow the pile of "read" books got put back onto the bookshelves! Which leaves me trying hopelessly to recreate the past few months' reading. It's shocking how little I remember. Here goes nothing: Family Life by Akhil Sharma I'm a sucker for an immigrant tale, especially one which features people from India.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr It's not that I didn't enjoy this book. I did. I really did. I guess I just expected to be utterly blown away.

And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass I was so glad to reenter the lives of these characters!

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham I think maybe it's because I read this on my Ipad. I kept losing track of the story. I so much prefer to read an actual book.

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose I swear I'm not being arrogant (I'm far too full of self-loathing for that) when I say that my World War 2 related book is simply better than this one.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel Fucking incredible.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper Meh.

And that's all I can remember. So fucking annoying. I can't believe it. I hate that I'm missing books! Never will I let this happen again.

March 2014

In Phillip Lopate's fabulous essay "Waiting for the Book to Come Out," he describes the phenomenon of Prepublication Syndrome as one that travels through the stages of "anxiety, rage, megalomania, bitterness, terror, self-reproach, resignation, and acceptance." Over the past couple of months, as I've been waiting for the April 1st publication of Love and Treasure, I've cycled through the series at least half a dozen times. The only thing that has been able to reliably calm me down is reading fiction.

The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth My favorite of Roth's books, where the balance tilts toward what I love (the language, the insight) and away from what I find tiresome (the solipsism, the sexual compulsion).

Missing You by Harlan Coben This man is a master of plot and propulsion. And among the nicest people I know.

Gone by Cathi Hanauer A lovely and painful mediation on what a long marriage means.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein A historical novel about a train?! Is it any wonder I read this in a single, deaf-to-the-world sitting? Also, Christina is one of the most generous and lovely writers I know.

Casebook by Mona Simpson Simpson examines divorce and adolescence with her always-remarkable microscope. I loved this novel.

Bark by Lorrie Moore When I want to remind myself how to write, I turn to Lorrie Moore.

Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn Holy shit! This book will snatch you by the throat and not let you go until you're finished.

The White Album by Joan Didion A reread, because I'm working on a TV show set in the time and place in which most of the essays take place.

Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li This woman can write a devastating description.

LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy Research

The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken I hadn't read this in years and really loved it.

The Kept by James Scott Though the story fell apart a bit for me in the end, I loved it almost all the way through.

January 2014

Finally reached the end of the various British novels Michael was sent this year. So many good ones! I'm in a bit of a reading limbo now, though. Not sure what I should start reading as inspiration for my new book. I always read books to inspire me to write. Frankly, I don't trust writers who don't. Especially ones who say they don't want their "style" influenced by others. Whose style wouldn't be influenced to the better by reading Jane Austen or Elmore Leonard or Michael Ondaatje? A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett Sara is a remarkable writer and the combination of her skill and this incredible story make for utterly compelling reading.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett She's a master of the essay.

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart Parts of this were hilarious. Snooze city on the psychoanalysis, though.

Helium by Jaspreet Singh I'm obsessed with anything about India so I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Schroder by Amity Gaige I absolutely loved this novel until about page 200, and then for no reason I can figure out, I just put it down.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan Man, those tormented Irish.

All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld This book is almost fantastic. It builds beautifully, but what it builds to ultimately disappointed me.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo This will knock your socks off.

In Pharaoh's Army by Tobias Wolff Only one of the best short stories writers alive today. This is killer.

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald This was a reread. At once austere and complex. If you haven't read it, you need to just pick it up already.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Michael read this aloud to me and the kids. It's so exciting to watch a child listen to this book for the first time. Blows their minds.

December 2013

This has been an extraordinary year for fiction. Maybe every year is an extraordinary year for fiction, and I just don't read enough new fiction. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid An unexpected heartbreak. Lovely.

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernardine Bishop Terrible title, magical novel. One of my favorites of the year.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill I'm not usually a fan of the experimental. Part of me says, "Oh, just write a damn novel." But this is terrific. Engrossing, enthralling.

A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik This novel blew my mind. I put it in the category of What is the What by Dave Eggers and The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adele Waldman. The writer immersed himself completely in someone entirely different from himself. It's masterful.

Troika by Adam Pelzman I loved this fucking book. And that is the blurb I gave it.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi The language! It's written in meter! One of my favorites of the year.

California by Edan Lepucki I adore a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and this is a great one.

The Messiah of Stockholm of Cynthia Ozick I want to be Cynthia Ozick when I grow up.

Someone by Alice McDermott I love how Alice McDermott gives us an entire life in 232 pages. This is a lovely novel. Not as good as Charming Billy, but nothing is.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann It was very exciting to read this, because it has the same structure as my novel!

Tenth of December by George Saunders How does he do it? So simple, so perfect.

Her First American by Lore Segal Lore Segal is my absolute favorite writer of the year. This book is so full of stuff, so packed with wonderful insights and people.

Longbourn by Jo Baker I expected to hate this. How dare she dare to write a book inspired by Jane Austen? And you know what? I loved it.

October 2013

Five Star Billionaire by Tash AwI adored this almost until the very end, when I realized that it wasn't really building to any exciting climax. Kind of bummed me out.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri How does she keep getting better and better?

The Book on Bookies by James Jeffries Yeah, I'm like five minutes and a stack of dissolving rice paper away from opening my own sportsbook.

Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano I had no idea this period of history even existed! Amazing.

Knocking on Heaven's Door by Katy Butler This book blew my mind. Absolutely everyone must read it immediately. It will change how you think about old age and dying.

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan Kelly did it again, brought us another heartbreaker that'll keep you laughing and crying.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell I love British novels, I really do.

Love Nina, A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe Crappy chick lit, you say? No! In fact, totally delightful. A wonderful surprise.

Death of a Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone I wanted to like this more than I did.

Golden State by Michelle Richmond I loved this novel. I love the high concept conceit (California seceding!) but more than that I loved the characters.

Benediction by Kent Haruf My God, this is a magnificent novel. One of the best I've read in years.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adele Waldman I went in prepared to hate this. I mean, hello? Another A. Waldman? But it was pretty fucking great. The insight into the way these literary boys think about women? Terrific.

The Circle by Dave Eggers Man, is he ever at the top of his game. This fabulous book totally freaked me out. It made me rethink a hell of a lot about how I interact with the world.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Starts great, but kind of falls a little flat at the end.

A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava Stupendous. I mean, seriously. Masterful. And it's a first novel!

August 2013

My Education by Susan ChoiThis book was terrific, and terrifically sexy.

HHhH by Laurent Binet This book was stupendous for the first 200 pages, then suddenly I got sick of the conceit.

Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor Terrific stories, but man oh man is it bleak.

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem Absolutely his best novel.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano Man, oh man, I do not get what the big deal is about this book. Snooze.

The People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu I feel like I know nothing about Israel. This book blew my mind completely.

Other People's Houses by Lore Segal She is one of my new favorite novelists.

The Reef by Edith Wharton Not as magnificent as her others, but still pretty damn good.

American Savage by Dan Savage Super fun and insightful.

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler My absolute favorite book of the summer. Should win prizes.

June 2013

Before I head off to a summer of Maine and Italy (!!), I'd better drop a few lines on my spring reading. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert I love historical novels, and I love feminist novels. Gilbert's prose is marvelous, and the story is fun fun fun.

Cooked by Michael Pollan No one writes like Pollan. I learned an astonishing amount from this book, as usual. And I was inspired to roast a a pork butt! Me!! The person who never cooked.

All That Is by James Salter Beautiful writing. Some of the best. But far too much of this book was the same, tired "middle-aged man gets laid" story.

Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal I have never read such an astonishing book about old age. It's remarkable. This woman is one of the best writers I've ever had the privilege of reading.

The Liars Gospel by Naomi Alderman I would never have expected to love a book about Jesus. I find the subject tiresome in the extreme. But this book is a revelation (?!!). I absolutely loved it.

The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver This lovely beautifully, written novel is the best possible summer read (for those of us who demand excellent prose, even in the summer).

& Sons by David Gilbert A wonderful novel that I loved almost to the end. Then I suddenly lost interest in the travails of rich New Yorkers. The wild twist kept me excited, though.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson Yeah, I read this again. Because it's FUCKING AWESOME.

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont In the great tradition of boarding school novels. Plus sailing!

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes This one didn't do much for me.

Last Friends by Jane Gardam Lord how I love Jane Gardam. This book reminds me of the work of Lore Segal. They are both fabulous and you should read them NOW.

Home by Toni Morrison A nearly-perfect short novel.

Shakespeare's Kitchen by Lore Segal Just as marvelous as her new novel.

The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings Hilarious and interesting as I embark on my new homeschooling adventure.

April 2013

The past few months I've allowed myself to read whatever the heck I want. It's been a joy. I'm about to launch into a new novel, and have a pile of biographies on my desk. Saul Below. Vladimir Nabokov. Alma Mahler. Alongside that a few histories of the Côte d'Azur, of Hollywood in the 1940s. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson This one was a reread, after loving Life After Life so much I felt like I needed more Atkinson. It's every bit as good as you want it to be.

The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig Zweig is a killer. Such aching pain. Such tragedy. OY OY OY.

Chess Story by Stefan Zweig I wish I had a complete set of every single New York Review reissue. They're so lovely.

Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig This slim little novella devastated me. Broke my heart.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout A great, satisfying read.

The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst It was reading this amazing book that made me understand what my new novel was going to be about.

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald This book is so lush, and so compelling, and ultimately it kind of falls apart. But I didn't care.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes A serious weeper. And funny, too.

The Riviera Set: From Queen Victoria to Princess Grace by Lita-Rose Betcherman Research.

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn Reread all of these. They're every bit as good as the first few times I read them.

January 2013

Lots of great reading this time. So happy to be done with my Budapest obsession, the fruits of which will be published in April 2014 by Knopf. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta. I'm not usually so into the pain memoir, but the writing is so good, the mother so crazy, that it's worth it.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Utterly charming.

The Purchase by Linda Spaulding Rich and dense and terrific.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter Despite wanting to hate it (dude was NOT nice to my husband) I fell under its spell.

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy Compelling, but the elephant book is genius.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich This book is actually pretty good. Although the ending is hard to swallow.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon Fascinating, beautiful in places, but influenced (of course) by the author's biases, both conscious and unconscious.

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney Hilarious. I want her to be my BFF.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Fascinating because it recounts an experience unfamiliar to me, but otherwise a bit predictable in terms of prose and story.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer I gobbled this up, refusing to converse with anyone until I'd finished.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain Simply marvelous. Read it.

Londoners by Craig Taylor A must-read for Anglophiles.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis Lovely first novel.

Hello Goodbye Hello by Craig Brown This book is utterly delightful. I know I say that a lot about books, but this one really is delightful.

The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy I know this book is nuts. It's told from the point of view of elephants, for god sake. But it's magical and heartbreaking. And it changed the way I think about animals in the world.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson One of the ten best books I've ever read.

Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff 1. I utterly identified with Véra. 2. My God, was she a loathsome woman.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Everyone should read this book. It should be required reading for every human.

November 2012

It's been a fine, long stretch of reading for me. Some marvelous books. I'm finally free of the obligation to read everything ever written about the Holocaust in Hungary (though I doubt I cracked the surface), and am reading purely for fun, which is pure joy. I suppose it's getting to be time to consider my next novel, so soon enough I'll have to turn my attention to whatever inspiration will be appropriate for that. Though for the time being, I haven't the faintest idea what I'll do next. TV, at least through the end of the year, and hopefully longer. Freud's Sister by Goce Smilevski If this novel has even a jot of truth in it, Freud was a loathsome prick (but we knew that already) who allowed his sisters to be murdered by the Nazis when he could have saved them. Worth a read for those, like me, who are Holocaust-obsessed.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan I'd read McEwan's dream journal (and I despise dreams), so perhaps I'm not a good gauge of this one, but I did like it very much. I like all his books very much. Though the main character here didn't ring quite as true to me as some others of his. It wasn't her callowness. I have teenagers. I know how callow youth is. It was just something about her seemed false.

Traps by MacKenzie Bezos Bezos is a great, relatively undiscovered, talent. She's got a miraculous way with a sentence.

The City of Devi by Manil Suri I am a total sucker for Suri. He blows my mind. And this book is just a fun and fabulous as the rest.

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie This memoir about Rushdie's days under the Iranian Fatwa is fascinating, mostly because it's chock full of literary gossip and payback.

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford Sometimes the prose is delightful, but the sexism so unbearable that it's impossible to enjoy a book. It just comes off as at once boorish and insipid, which is something of a trick. But I hear Parade's End is great, so I'll give it a try before I give up on him as a writer who does not survive his era.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison A very quick, very sweet and charming (and sad) read.

Time and Again by Jack Finney I was briefly considering writing a time travel TV show, and read this for that. It was super fun.

Jacob's Folly by Rebecca Miller This book doesn't necessarily fulfill its ambition, but it's better to strive and not quite succeed than not to try at all. It's fascinating and worth the read.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson I totally adored this book. It's experimental in its way, but also a ripping yarn. (See how British I can be?)

Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49 edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming This book was part of the Mass-Observation project in England, where people -- not writers, just regular, normal, not-necessarily-neurotic people -- were asked to keep daily diaries. Nella Last's is remarkably fascinating. She's a terrific writer, but more to the point, the window into the life of a housewife in the thick of the war, the bombings, the rationing, is incredibly interesting. And the food! Gah. Horrible.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt I honestly can't say why I liked this book so much. Probably the stylish prose. Has to be, actually, because I sort of hate Westerns. But I gobbled this up in just a couple of nights.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple Super, super fun.

Toby's Room by Pat Barker Barker's Regeneration trilogy are among my favorite books. But now it just feels like she's just treading the same, well-worn path.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Not my cup of tea.

Trapezeby Simon Mawer I love a good spy story.