The long list for the Man Booker prize was announced yesterday and I have only read one of them. That is one reason it is my favorite book list. It goes beyond bestseller lists and borders, elevating excellent fiction from all over the world. Usually by the time the next list is out, I have read my way through the list. It is changing, though, until 2013, the authors had to come from the Commonwealth and now it is open to authors from any country so long as they write in English and their books are published in the UK. For the first time there are five American writers on the list. Will this change the complexion of the list? I don’t know. I hope not.
I have been on a lucky streak lately, reading several good books in a row. Right now I am reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty, an hilarious satire of post-racial America. The protagonist’s father is killed by the police in what is supposed to be a ridiculously senseless and satirical example of police violence. Unfortunately, reality has surpassed satire on that score.
I recently read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. I have been a long-time fan of her books even though they have often been very grim. While some might find Life After Life grim, i did not. I often laughed out loud at this ultimate revisionist history of a life. I read it in two big gulps because I kind of could not put it down. I am looking forward to the sequel and am now only 186th in line to borrow it from the library. That sounds worse than it is. There are 81 copies.
Before that, I read The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Oh my, I loved this book. I wanted to read it again and then again. There was so much gentleness, love and human understanding in this book. It made me laugh, cry, and laugh and cry some more.
Then there was 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas about a 9 year old girl who loves to sing jazz. The writing is poetic and perfect with prose that will make you pause just to read a section again for pure pleasure in the perfect word, the perfect sentence. Arpeggiate!!! I was in love from page one. It was wonderful.
Another really good book was Mobile Library, what is sometimes called a tragicomedy, but really a comedy that faces life without blinking. I found this one and 2 A.M. at The Cats Pajamas at my other favorite place to find good books, Picador, an extraordinary imprint. I have never read a bad book from Picador and automatically pick up the book when I see their label. I go to their web site and request their books from the library, sometimes without reading the description. I know it seems weird to choose books by publisher, though in reality, I think there is no better way. Every imprint has an editorial vision and if you pay attention, you can find those imprints that speak to you.
What have you read lately that you love? Do you have favorite imprints or book lists that help you find good books to read?
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