• Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone

    James Baldwin

    It has been quite a long time since I read any James Baldwin, which suddenly seems like a pretty serious oversight. This may not be one of his best novels, but I liked it more than Mario Puzo did in his review for The New York Times when the book was...more

  • Nox

    Anne Carson

    I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds. But death makes us stingy.

    Back when I was making a concerted effort to read more poetry, I enjoyed a few of Anne Carson’s books. I haven’t been spending much time in bookstores, or reading for that matter. But recently forces...more

  • Ways of Seeing

    John Berger

    Kind of the Camera Lucida on fine art, this book is based on the BBC documentary of the same name. Seven essays, three composed entirely of images and four primarily of text that aren’t too heavy with the...more

  • The Book of Lost Things

    John Connolly

    A modern take on traditional fairy tales, I found this at times predictable but mostly delightful. Even though I basically knew what eventually did happen at the end, I still set aside most of an evening to finish the last few chapters. There are a few moments, namely in the recreated fairy tales, that rang a bit problematic, but then I...more

  • Too Loud a Solitude

    Bohumil Hrabal

    After I only made it halfway through the last two books I’ve started, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a book less than a hundred pages long. But I still think I have to thank a tranquil weekend away and the train ride home more than the brevity here.

    The majority of these eight chapters begin with a variation of...more

  • Elegy for Iris

    John Bayley

    I never saw the movie version of Bayley’s recollections of his life with Iris Murdoch. Just like Strange Big Moon, I got halfway through this book before I just didn’t want to pick it up again. In this case, I think only have read...more

  • Strange Big Moon

    Joanne Kyger

    I got really excited when I first got this book and read this on the first page:

    Confession merely enables you to go on acting like a coward, behavior does not change. As self awareness then condones further actions of the same sort.

    At the time this resonated strongly, but over time...more

  • Prague

    Arthur Phillips

    Phillips wears a little Kundera on his sleeve, perhaps specifically Life is Elsewhere. Though I haven’t read it myself, the title could easily be transposed to this story of a band of young...more

  • Stadt Alphabet Wien

    Martin Ulrich Kehrer

    I always forget to add the various books that come my way that aren’t actually books that I read, but most likely hold court on the coffee table or a prominent location on a bookshelf. Melanie brought me this one from Austria, and it documents Vienna’s incredible old signage, in...more

  • Atmopheric Disturbances

    Rivka Galchen

    I probably read more reviews of this book before starting it than I should have, as the reactions were mixed and some went into too much depth, so at times I was expecting something a little different. But ultimately I enjoyed this story of a middle-aged psychiatrist who believes that his wife has been replaced by an imposter and goes on...more

  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

    Jon McGregor

    This is one of those novels that is hard to describe without the word “poignant,” as McGregor describes in fine detail the happenings on one block in a British city on one day that something tragic occurs with the block’s residents as witnesses. The build-up to this one event is a selective peering into of the neighbors’ secret...more

  • Carried Away

    Alice Munro

    After the semi-disappointment in Dance of the Happy Shades, I picked up this collection and worked my way through it over autumn in between other books. I’d probably read half of these seventeen favorites in their original collections, so reading this was a combination of fi...more

  • Slaughterhouse-Five

    Kurt Vonnegut

    I read Breakfast of Champions back in high school or early college but for some reason never branched out further. It’s hard to remember my exact reaction, but I’m guessing it was a...more

  • The Best 10 Minutes of Your Life

    Zoe Whittall

    Thanksgiving in Dundas
    Hitching the Hamilton highway
    styrofoam hot chocolate
    from a steeltown diner
    waiting, the most precise
    measurement of patience

    more
  • Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age

    Kenzaburo Oe

    It seems most of Oe’s works are at least semi-autobiographical; supposedly all his works feature a character based on his son Hikari who is developmentally disabled. This book is about a similar boy whose name is also Hikari, but goes by the nickname Eeyore, and a similar father...more

  • Sad Little Breathing Machine

    Matthea Harvey

    For whatever reason, this collection didn’t strike me as much as Modern Life did. But there were poems I liked.

    The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

    Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want

    ...more
  • The Westing Game

    Ellen Raskin

    I never read this when I was younger, but I kind of wish I had. It’s a complicated mystery based around the occupants of an apartment building who discover they’ve all been named heirs to a $2 million estate, except they need to compete against each other (in pairs dictated by the bizarre will) on a strange riddle in order to win...more

  • The Sweet Life in Paris

    David Lebovitz

    Only recently did I get with the program and start reading David Lebovitz’s blog — I’ve tried to make up for lost time by making his butterscotch pudding several times in the last few weeks. I assumed this book...more

  • The Woman in the Dunes

    Kobe Abé

    An entomologist seeks out a remote seaside village for an insect expedition and as night falls seeks shelter from the villagers. They offer him shelter with a widow who lives in a house inside a deep sand pit and he wakes up in the morning to discover they have removed the ladder, trapping him. In time he discovers that a few villagers...more

  • Dance of the Happy Shades

    Alice Munro

    I was partway through this collection of short fiction when I had to check to see if this was Munro’s first collection of stories (which it is). So often her stories seem to leave no stone to untouched, and, even though it’s not as long as a novel, you still have the sense that the narrative is entirely complete at the...more

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