Sonya Unrein

Sonya Unrein
Denver, Colorado,
April 20


JUNE 24, 2010 2:12PM

Six months of reading, 2010

Rate: 3 Flag

The best books I’ve read this year:

Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury. First time I’ve read this an adult. It’s not quite cohesive as a novel, but wallops a double-dose of nostalgia: Bradbury’s for his childhood, and mine, for reconnecting with an old beloved book.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. Love this simple, rich story of a young woman’s maturation-through-immigration. Caution: there is one section that will make you cry buckets of salty, sad tears.

Underworld by Don DeLillo. Epic monster of a story that seems to presuppose the horrors of the 2000s by looking at the less-but-still horrific 1950s through the 1990s.

True Grit by Charles Portis. A close relation has insisted for many years that I should read this Western. I refused until this year, when of course I had to admit that she was right. Funny, scary, and dare I say gritty story of vengeance, guns, horses, and a courageous but somewhat obnoxious teenage girl as protagonist.

When I Came West by Laurie Wagner Buyer. Memoir about a shy and naive woman who drops out of college to live with a Vietnam vet in Montana. He’s paranoid, controlling, and completely self-reliant. She’s eager to learn and finds her own capacity for surviving the harsh environment, inside the house and out.

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, stories by Robin Black AND Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower. These titles are powerful and spare and gripping, collections I will give to other people and return to for my own pleasure. Even if you’re one those people who say they don’t like short stories, I urge you to try these on for size.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro is gifted and has complete control of his narratives. This dystopian novel about the ethics of cloning is a psychological and emotional minefield. It’s going to be a movie. It won’t make as much sense as a movie. Just read it.

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. This is one of the weirdest and most compelling novels I’ve read in years, with lots of twists, gorgeous narrative, and outlandish behavior on behalf of its arrogant, selfish narrator, Charles Arrowby. I couldn’t put it down. Fun fact: It was not reviewed in the New Yorker, even though several of her earlier novels were, with varying degrees of insults.

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undertow....that's interesting about iris murdoch being insulted in the new yorker....

I've always wondered how the british seem to produce writers like murdoch and others who can produce this long panoply of novels while U.S. novelist often tend to have one big bang, and then inverted crescendo of diminishing expectations....

oh, and the new yorker makes me mad. when it comes to fiction.
Delores, after reading the Murdoch I got out my New Yorker archive and found all the Murdoch articles. Some of them were brief, snarky reviews. Then Updike had nicer things to say, and then she got Alzheimer's and her husband published some memoir about her and him. It's interesting to me to look back on a simpler but more comprehensive discussion about books. Updike's book column in general was amazing, long meditations on books of the times, including Margaret Atwood, etc. He was so spot on. I feel like I truly missed out on something by not paying more attention in the 80s and 90s to things. Maybe that's the tragic flaw of middle age. Thanks for your note. Have you read anything you've liked this year?
I rarely read fiction anymore, honestly. I have been more deep into nonfiction. I have been reading war books (intense and depressing) and in between a book about guerilla gardening (which I really love...) and a book about gangs in east LA by Greg Boyle (which I also really loved...)

I have the Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin sitting on my desk, but its a little intimidating to me in its fatness. One of these days...
but I did read the sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch a few years ago. I enjoy her books. Maybe I'll pick up another one one of these days...
Unfortunately I haven't read a single one of these though my list for the last 12 months would have ,
The Fountainhed - Ayn Rand ( One of the best books I've read so far)
The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (It disturbed me a lot but I could not put it down)
My Name Is Red - Orhan Pamuk (I cannot say that I loved this book but I enjoyed it)
Perfume - Patrick Süskind (Another book I fele guilty about enjoying because it was so disturbing)
The Interpretation of Dreams - Sigmund Freud (I slogged through this one. Though I did not enjoy it, or become a psychoanalyst, I do not regret my time spent on it)
Superstar India - Shobha De (The only book about India I read which does not condescend, which is true and honest to its subject and in which true love for one's country shines through).
Alchemist, Brida, The Zephyr, The Witch of Portobella, The Fifth Mountain - Paulo Coelho (Now I know what to read when I need a pep talk)
Tell me your Dreams, If Tomorrow Never Comes – Sydney Sheldon (Page turners through and through, the best antidotes to boredom)
The Name of The Rose – Umberto Eco (I loved this medieval crime thriller)
The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown (I found it a bit disappointing after the other four books)
Moana, it's so good to hear from you. You've been reading a lot. That's great. I read quite a few books I didn't care for as much, so I didn't list them. I liked Girl with Dragon Tattoo but don't think I'll finish up the series. Not sure why that is, but I guess I feel I've had enough.