Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Traffic: Twelve Books to Give for Christmas

The best new book this year.
This year consumer addicts could get their "fix" at Walmart on Thanksgiving, i.e., Gray Thursday.

I didn't shop on Gray Thursday or Black Friday.  It's not that I am pious, but why give those corporations all your money?  I saw the ad for a $59 Nook and was tempted to rush out and buy one.  But I don't need a $59 Nook.  I have an old Nook, which works fine.  Last year I gave my husband a Nook which works fine, too, though not as well as my really old Nook.

Why buy all that electronic crap and contribute to the world's trash? 

This year I'm giving everyone a book.  ONE book. It will be like World Book Night, except I'll give different books. I am not going to be cute and flutter around shopping the day before Christmas. It isn't cute.  And usually I buy gifts no one much cares for anyway.  An organic watch got ruined last year when somebody washed the dishes wearing it. I was the one who wanted the organic watch.

 I have already pored over The Best Books of the Year lists at The Washington PostPublishers' Weekly, The Guardian, and The SpectatorThey look very good, but I am going to add a list of more good books, if you want something a little different...  Well, here goes.

1.  Break of Day by Colette.  An  exquisite, witty, lyrical novel written by Colette in her fifties about retirement from sexual love.   Published in 1928, it perfectly traces the resolve of middle-aged Colette to set aside sexual love for solitude.  

2.  The Life in the Studio by Nancy Hale.  This out-of-print novelist and memoirist was the daughter of painters Lilian Westcott Hale and Philip L. Hale. Some think this was her masterpiece.  This memoir was inspired by relics in her mother's studio, which Nancy cleaned out after her mother's death.

3.   The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. A dark Cinderella story by an Austrian Jewish writer who wrote several stunning novellas and novels and fled the Nazis to Brazil.

4.  Twilight of Love:  Travels with Turgenev by  Robert Dessaix.  In this short book, Dessaix retraces Turgenev’s footsteps in Europe, and meditates on his own relationship with Russian literature.  He also compares his Australian identity to the “barbaric” Russian identity of Turgenev in the 19th century  (both places were said to have “no culture,” and travel to Europe was necessary for intellectual development).

5.  The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya.  A retelling of Antigone set during the war in Afghanistan, this complex novel about a woman amputee and American soldiers is my favorite new novel of the year.  Give this book with a copy of Sophocles' Antigone

6The Red House by Mark Haddon.  A novel about a difficult family vacation.  Richard, a doctor, has invited his sister,  Angela, an inner-city school teacher, and her family for a week’s vacation on the Welsh border near Hay-on-Wye.

7.  The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton.  Inspired by James Brown, Civil Rights, and friendship, this charming novel is  the deceptively simple story of a music-based interracial friendship between two boys who work in a furniture-refinishing shop.  One of the best books I read this year.

8.  The Sweetest Dream by Doris Lessing, an extraordinary novel about idealism and disillusion in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.

9.  Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather.  Divided into three parts, this brilliant novel vividly chronicles the brief life of Lucy, a graceful young woman and piano student who suffers a terrible loss in Chicago and then is lost herself in Nebraska.

10.  Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson.  A satire of the publishing world.  One of the funniest books I read this year.

11.  A Lovesong for India by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.  A collection of short stories by the Booker Prize winning author of Heat and Dust

12.  The Truth by Terry Pratchett.  A great satire of journalism, set in Pratchett's fictional fantastical city of Ankh-Pork, where William de Worde starts a newspaper after dwarves invent a printing press.

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