Two Great Book Lists and a Theory


Two great lists.

This month we pick a new region. My favorite part about picking regions is making lists. You can find our little list here.

This got me thinking about what lists out there I look to when choosing what to read next. I also started thinking about why these lists are so enjoyable. What I came up with is two of my favorite lists, and one theory.

The Lists:

The 2013 Best Translated Book Award Fiction (BTBA)

This list is a who’s who of Hipster Presses. Many of my favorites are present: Open Letter, Melville House, New Directions, Dalkey Archive, etc.. The long list is a trip around the world, and offers up a group of books that readers might find particularly challenging. It’s hard to break out of the very American gravitational pull towards authors writing in English. This list helps nudge me in another direction. It should be noted that I am reading Tirza by Arnon Grunberg right now, and it is amazing. I don’t know why it didn’t make this list. Anyway, here is the list.

–       The Planets by Sergio Chejfec

–       Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard

–       The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

–       Atlas by Dung Kai-Cheung

–       Kite by Dominique Edde

–       We, the Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino

–       Basti by Intizar Hussain

–       The Map of the Territory by Michel Houellebecq

–       Mama Leone by Miljenko Jergovic

–       Awakening to the Great Sleep War by Gert Jonke

–       My Struggle by Karl Knausgard

–       Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

–       Autoportrait by Eduouard Levi

–       A Breathe of Life Clarice Lispector

–       The Lair by Norman Manea

–       The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller

–       Traveller of the Century by Andres Neuman

–       Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov

–       With the Animals by Noelle Revaz

–       Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin

–       Joseph Walser’s Machine by Goncalo Tavares

–       The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen

–       Dublinesque by Enrique Villa-Matas

–       Transit by Abdourahman Waberi

Wow. That’s a serious list. I can’t wait to see the finalists, and then the winner. If you want to hear more about this, check out the March 6th Three Percent Podcast on iTunes. (This is a fun podcast in general).

The 2013 Morning News Tournament of Books List

Every year this competition keeps me entertained for a few months. From the time the list comes out to the time a winner is chosen, my mind rarely leaves this group of titles. Enjoy the list, and enjoy the reviews.

– HHhH by Laurent Binet

– The Round House by Louise Erdrich

– Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

– The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

– Arcadia by Lauren Groff

– How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

– May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

– The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

– Ivyland by Miles Klee

– Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

– The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

– Dear Life by Alice Munro

– Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

– Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

– Building Stories by Chris Ware

As you can see, this is a more traditional, bookstore type list. Great for me. As I’ve said in the past, books are meant to be taken in and talked about by communities, and these books are books you are more likely to get you into a conversation.

Two great lists. But why do I like my reading organized and chosen by people I’ve never met? I don’t really know, but I do. I’ve always gravitated towards reading as project, stringing together themes into my choices. It helps to create a larger narrative for my life with Literature. I spend a lot of time with books, and I am not always convinced that the time spent will equal something greater than leisure. When I engage with a list or a challenge, this lack of accomplishment is alleviated. Slightly.


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