Eleven for Eleven

Contrary to popular opinion, librarians do not get paid to read all day. We, like all working stiffs, must carve out precious minutes to read on the bus, in the lunch room or in bed at the end of a hectic day. One of my simple pleasures is looking forward to a good book. I have loaded up the maximum 35 requests on my library card and when I get that email that tells me I have a book waiting, I have my own moment of “awesome!” (I am referencing Neil Pasricha’s The Book of Awesome which catalogues the small pleasures and delights that provide that singular hit of joy in the midst of the mundane.
This is my favourite time of year when the professional journals and popular press publish their “Best of 2010” from which I construct my own “must read” list. Some of these titles appear on several lists so I know that they are a sure bet. I have not included the publishing phenomena of the year, Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, which was on everyone’s radar.

Here are my “picks of the litter” from various 2010 lists:

1. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A “virtuosic rock `n’ roll novel about a cynical record producer and the people who intersect his world” – New York Times Book Review

2. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

what happens to boys and men when they realize life isn’t the sparkly planetarium they had hoped for” – Entertainment Weekly

3. Life by Keith Richards

“a slurry romp” (Keef once said: “I would have been a librarian if I wasn’t a rock star.”) –The New Yorker

4. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

“raunchy dystopian satire set in near future New York achieves heft with a May-December romance that is super sad and feels true” –Maclean’s

5. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Author of the lauded The Corrections passes “his all-seeing eye through another American decade”  –Time

6. Room by Emma Donoghue

Life through the eyes of “a five year old boy raised by his captive mother in a cell-like chamber” –Quill and Quire

7. How to Live: or a life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer by Sarah Bakewell 

“encounter this 16th century Frenchman who, in essaying to write about himself, wrote about us all” –Library Journal

8. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

“a magnificent paean to that increasingly endangered species: the printed newspaper” –Publishers Weekly

9 . The New Yorker Stories by Ann Beattie

48 stories by “the defining voice of her post-1960s generation” –The Globe and Mail

10. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte “seriously funny in the manner of Dave Eggers” –Booklist

11. And finally my own “You’ve got to read this book” pick:

Winnipeg Love Hate: Selected Photographs by Bryan Scott

all that is great and beautiful, and all that is tragic and repulsive” about our city


2 responses to “Eleven for Eleven

  1. What a great, eclectic list- thanks Jane!
    Also check out the 2011 longlist for the Dublin Literary Awards to help you with your literary “bucket list” @ http://www.impacdublinaward.ie

    • Thanks for the link Kathy! Maybe I should call it “my retirement list” or as you suggested “my bucket list -books to read before I die”. I would definitely add Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

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