I just noticed that this blog has become a once a year blog about my favorite books. Oh well. I am not going to apologize. However, I do plan to do more with it very soon. In the meantime, here is my 2013 list…
Whenever I encounter an all-time favorite book for the first time, it is always a blessing and a curse. The blessing is obviously the enjoyment of the book itself. But then comes the curse… pretty much everything I read for weeks afterwards seems bland in comparison—just something to pass the time. I didn’t read too many books in 2013, and this is mostly because I encountered three of these life-changing books, all of which incapacitated me for a time to further voracious reading. I had to take a break, a breather if you will. Three separate times. Here are those three books:
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page – by G.B. Edwards
Probably more than any other character in literature, Ebenezer Le Page comes to life as the most flesh-and-blood real. He’s an ornery old man who’s lived his whole life on one of the channel islands (Guernsey) and through an accumulation of stories he slowly reveals a full and rich life. His voice is unique, with a charming patois and much humor, and his story is an extremely moving one, with real characters you fall in love with. This is the only book the author has ever written. Read it.
My full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/469820382
Double Oblivion of the Ourang-Outang – by Helene Cixous
I’d only heard the name Cixous associated with literary theory, and that’s not an area I cared for much. However, I had the good fortune to discover that she also wrote novels… many of them, which are mostly ignored by her more academically-inclined fans in American Educational Institutions. Well, I say “novels” but really this is a blend of novelistic fiction, memoir, literary essay, poetry, and pure creative thinking through and through. A truly uncategorizable book that had me riveted.
My full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/631682830
Joseph and His Brothers – by Thomas Mann
A 1,500 page re-telling of Genesis 27-50 does not sound fun, but that’s exactly what this book is. It was a page-turner, full of philosophical goodies, action/adventure, dramatic twists and turns. Even if you know the story (as I did, vaguely), this will give you new perspective. What is most impressive about this book is that Mann was able to inject every little detail of the story with moral ambiguity and human complexity. He really just uses the Bible story as a springboard for something much greater.
My full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/335101476
Very Honorable Mentions:
- Lands of Memory – Felisberto Hernandez
- The Moment of Freedom: The Heiligenberg Manuscript – Jens Bjorneboe
- Malina – Ingeborg Bachmann
- The Bachelors – Adalbert Stifter
- The Day I Wasn’t There – Helene Cixous
- Zeitoun – Dave Eggers
- Impossible Object – Nicholas Moseley
- A Place in the Country – W.G. Sebald
You can find my reviews for all of these books and more on my Goodreads page.