Tuesday, November 03, 2009

PW Best Books of 2009

When our colleagues over at City Hall refer to "PW" they mean Public Works ("Gotta run - meeting out at PW today"). At the Library by PW we mean Publishers Weekly, the bible of the publishing industry and a source of reviews for our Library selection team. Generally PW reviews are short and positive (a must-buy!). You run across them in the Library catalogue as they are a featured review source along with Library Journal. Yesterday PW published a well-considered list of their 100 Best Books of 2009, with a PW Top Ten culled from the 100. The top ten is a good mix of interesting titles I think, but there has been a few comments and raised eyebrows in the blogosphere as none of the ten are by women writers.
Non-fiction

Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey
A biography of writer John Cheever, the "Chekhov of the suburbs", who died in 1982. The Library has his collected stories, his journals and his novel, The Wapshot Chronicle.

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
by Richard Holmes
Esteemed literary biographer Holmes looks back to the Romantics and a time when the sciences and the arts were not at war with each other. This summer marked the 50th anniversary of C.P. Snow's famous "Two cultures" essay about the divide that separates science and the arts. I'm reminded as well of Jenny Uglow's 2002 book, The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World.

Shop Class as Soulcraft
by Matthew B. Crawford
For everyone contemplating a middle age crisis: a book making the case for ditching the white collar grind and working with one's hands.

Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
by David Grann
I recommended this classic adventure tale as a great fall read. Grann tells of his experience in researching the story of explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in 1925.

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War
by Neil Sheehan
The only one on the list the Library doesn't have yet (we'll order it). The story of the development of the ICBM (that's intercontinental ballistic missile for the young folk). Sheehan is the author of one of the essential Vietnam books, A Bright Shining Lie : John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam.

Fiction

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
A book with buzz that I recommended as a great fall read. In this novel Chaon deftly juggles three intriguing plots about people dropping their old lives and remaking themselves.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
by Daniyal Mueenuddin
A linked story collection about life in Pakistan beyond the insanity of Waziristan, from a Pakistani-American writer.

Big Machine by Victor LaValle
LaValle is the cover boy for the PW Best Books issue (above). Kirkus said of this novel: "Too idea-hungry and haywire to be fully successful, too alive and abrasive to be missed. The multicultural novel has come of age - smashingly."

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
by Geoff Dyer
Dyer is one of those smart, witty English guys who cranks out brilliant fiction and non-fiction . In Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It he told of his own travels in search of enlightenment. In this novel he tells the story of an aging hipster traveling in search of enlightenment. And a girl.

Stitches by David Small
Graphic memoir is threatening to become a genre of its own, with excellent books like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic or Jeff Lemire's Essex County series, and many others out there. Here Small tells of his difficult childhood. Have a look at the trailer for an introduction to the book:



1 Comments:

Blogger Drew said...

Stitches is brilliant. I also just picked up Big Machine.

3:32 PM  

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