It’s nearly year’s end, when the best-of lists proliferate like winter grass in California’s rainy season. These reading lists are always great reading themselves, offering insight into the what books have been most influential, admired, or buzz-generating. I’ll likely be putting together my own list soon enough, but before that happens, here’s the list of books that, with not a little guilt, are still sitting in my TBR stack—the titles I meant to read in 2012, but somehow got away:
Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures: Straub had me at the first line, “Elsa was the youngest Emerson by ten years: the blondest, happiest accident.” Still looking forward to delving into the promise of that voice.
Truffaut: A Biography, by Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana. The brilliant life of the revered and influential French filmmaker began in tragedy. Abandoned by his mother as an infant, raised in tenuous care and nearly dead of neglect at three, Truffaut was adopted by his grandmother and lived his early years at the cinema, absorbing, learning, and constructing his a point of view that would alter the course of cinema. I need a month alone with this book, badly.
Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story. Superb stories by greats of the form, introduced by contemporary writers. Jeffery Eugenides on Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking.” Aleksandar Hemon on Borges’ “Funes, the Memorious.” Ali Smith on Lydia Davis’ “Ten Stories From Flaubert.” Mustn’t hold off on this one much longer.
Clear Springs: A Family Story, by Bobbie Ann Mason. I have long loved Mason’s stories, and when I learned she had written a memoir (first published in 1999) I immediately searched it out. Part coming of age story, part family history, Mason tells the story of three generations of her forebears’ history in Western Kentucky, while tracking her own odyssey and the shifting landscape of the heartland.