01 January, 2011

The List: Reading a Cut Above, in 2010



Although stocked more completely than one might expect of a prison library, Crossroads has precious little of the literary material I prefer. It was some time ago that I pulled the last enticing book off the selves here. For years, I have kept a list of authors and titles of books I intend one day to read — culled from choice reviews and the recommendations of friends. It's a long one. Shortly after the DOC policy change I wrote about, I compiled, at a certain someone's ingenious suggestion, a short version as an Amazon wish list, so that those who asked about sending books in the past could now know which books I most desired. It took only a couple of months for that list to dwindle and require an update.

Bypassing the deliberately difficult process of requesting titles for the librarian's next order has yet to lose its edge of excitement. Like a starving man invited to a sumptuous banquet, I have been consuming more than I'd have thought possible, and savoring every delectable moment. So, for graciously helping appease my hunger for the written word, I want to thank the following individuals.

In no particular order, much gratitude goes out to Little Miss Sunshine, Graham P., Matt C., the Wicked Witches of the West, Tom at Prospero's, Josie S., Jen J., Jim at The Hot Air Quarterly, the nameless stranger at Crazyhorse, my dearest Mum, the Skeptical Juror, Lynn A., the fine people of The Sun, and the mysterious few whose names did not appear on their orders for me to acknowledge.

Now, here's my better-than-usual year in books.

* * * * *

Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys

Mark Garvey, Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's Elements of Style

Gary Krist, Extravagance

Pierre Laszlo, Salt: Grain of Life

Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

Fracis Flaherty, The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing

Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Nancy Friday, My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies

J. Bennett Allen, The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron Case

Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon

Patrick Süskind, Perfume

Jesse Ball, The Way Through Doors

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life Ivan Denisovich

Thomas S. Kane, The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing

Richard Adams, Watership Down

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Rick Moody, The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions

Sol Stein, Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies

Thomas Pychon, Gravity's Rainbow

Steven Weisenburger, A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources & Contexts for Pynchon's Novel

Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian • Dead Eye Dick

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Jessica Anthony, The Convalescent

Hansjörg Schertenleib, A Happy Man

Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

Mary Oliver and Robert Atwan (editors), The Best American Essays 2009

Liane Holliday Willey, Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome

J. Bennett Allen, The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Cory Maye

Dan Chaon, Await Your Reply

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Michael Adams, Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made

Bill Brown, Dream Whip No.14 [Note: this publication may techincally classify as a zine, but it's nevertheless perfect-bound, bears an ISBN, and represents 336 pages of some fine, thoughtful travel writing.]

Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

J. Bennett Allen, The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Cameron Todd Willingham

Charlaine Harris, An Ice Cold Grave

Jim Carroll, The Petting Zoo

Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (editors), It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

Robert Graves, I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54

Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

Zadie Smith, White Teeth

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