Once again, I’m borrowing a co-worker’s Top Ten Tuesday list to inspire my own. Hers was “Top Ten Books I read the first year I had my blog“; because my blog is not specifically a book blog, I looked to my Goodreads and LibraryThing accounts instead. I started my Goodreads account in 2007, though I didn’t start reviewing each book consistently until later.
What was I reading, then? Out of college (no more assigned reading) and into the publishing world (okay, sometimes assigned reading), bombarded with more novels than I could ever read, my reading choices fell into a few categories:
- Contemporary fiction about which there was “buzz,” e.g. Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, which I loved, and Ian McEwan (I tried and hated Saturday and Atonement; I liked On Chesil Beach better but decided that everyone else could just go ahead and continue loving him, but I was done).
- Classics I didn’t read in school: No matter how good your education was, there’s no way you could read ALL the classics, but I had missed some key ones. I actually think this was for the better; I loved Pride and Prejudice much more in my early twenties than I think I would have as a teenager.
- Nonfiction: Left to my own devices, I read barely any nonfiction for almost a year; then I realized I need to read some, so I made it a goal to read one a month. I started with a lot of memoir and biography (Audrey Hepburn, Jeannette Walls, Augusten Burroughs, Alice Sebold, Ann Patchett) and pop psychology (Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Gilbert), but I sought out some feminist books as well, though I didn’t use that term at the time – I discovered Katha Pollitt (Learning to Drive) and read This Common Secret and The Girls Who Went Away. I caught up on classic nonfiction too, from Capote’s In Cold Blood to Joan Didion’s essays.
- Poetry: I discovered Nick Laird’s poem “On Beauty” in Zadie Smith’s novel by the same title, and Laird’s To A Fault is still one of my favorite poetry collections.
But of course it was mostly fiction. I was just starting to separate out the authors I thought I should read from the ones I actually liked; there was some overlap, of course, but there was also Ian McEwan and Special Topics in Calamity Physics. So here’s the list part – what did I read then (mid-2007-early 2009) that I still love now?
- Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
- To A Fault by Nick Laird (poetry)
- In the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
- Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill (I feel this one was overlooked, and I often put it on my Staff Picks shelf at the library, hoping others will discover it)
- The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (the right book at the right time)
- The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett
- An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
- Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (nonfiction)
- Overture by Yael Goldstein (found this on a remainder table at the Strand; overlooked in the same way as Ursula, Under)
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman
- Touchy Subjects by Emma Donoghue
It’s more than ten. Of course it is. And this is not to be confused with my all-time Top Ten list (either the one from 2007 or the one from 2017).
What books have stayed with you over the years? Which authors do you follow faithfully, which ones have you parted ways with?