A few weeks ago, Scott Esposito (editor of the consistently great Quarterly Conversation) asked me for an annotated list of the five best books I’d read in 2012. After doing so, I started feeling bad about the books I left off the list, so I sat down and compiled a larger one. Below the fold you’ll find that I’ve re-listed a couple of the most noteworthy ones I originally highlighted, and a slew of others. Feel free to provide your own list in the comments.
(1) My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgard — I mentioned this one in my previous list. So ridiculously good. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
(2) The Factory Series, by Derek Raymond — I’m only through the first three books of this five-book series. But they are a vicious and fun before-bed read.
(3) The Collected Poems (1912-1944), by H.D. — The doyenne of poetic gnosticism. her work is very special to me.
(4) Minor Angels, by Antoine Volodine — Totally unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Bizarre, but without being self-indulgent.
(6) A Short History of Decay, by Emil Cioran — The title says it all.
(7) The Passion According to G. H., by Clarice Lispector — I’ve already said far too much about this book this year.
(8) Wittgenstein’s Mistress, by David Markson — Unsure how I managed never to have read this until this year.
(9) Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, by Thomas Browne — Nothing else has given me such joy to read this year. The master of English prose at work right here.
(10) Rhetoric and Style, by Thomas de Quincey — Another book I’ve known about for ages but unemployment actually gave me the time to read. Loved it.
(11) Madness, Rack, and Honey, by Mary Ruefle — I would’ve loved sitting in on these lectures given by Ruefle. Tremendous for anybody who writes or reads seriously.
(12) Satantango, by László Krasznahorkai — Deserving of all the praise that has been heaped upon it this year. It makes difficult demands on your attention, and rewards nearly every step of the way.