Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 Favorite Book Learnin'

I don't know if I can rank these, but these were the most enjoyable reads for me in 2006, in alphabetical order by author or title or maybe not in any order.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy
I finished this a couple of months ago now but I can't stop thinking about it. C read it over the holidays and had dreams about it in which she was hiding by the side of the road from cannibals and running through trees, starving. The clarity of his prose (that phrase is such a book review cliche, but it's all I can think of) continues to be just to the bone. His next novel, if it continues this pattern, will have to be written entirely in sentence fragments .

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
Finally, I read Jane Austen. I had no problem reading chick books when I was 11--girls were always telling me that I couldn't read Are you there God? It's me, Margaret and similar stuff--but this backward part of me always assumed I wouldn't relate to Austen. I outgrew that sentiment a long time ago, but never got around to her. At last, I got the prodding I needed when this novel was on the list for a course I am teaching this year, and thank goodness; this is just one of the wittiest books I've ever read. It's got me tempted to go on a year of Brit Lit, re-reading Anthony Powell, Kingsley Amis and Henry Green, especially. But where will I get the time? I will sleep less. Yes. That is my new year's resolution: to sleep less.

The Sounds of Poetry, Robert Pinsky
Sometimes I think I read as many books about reading poetry as I read poetry. It's just hard to escape the feeling, when you're reading poetry, that you'd be catching onto something if you only knew a little bit more about conventions, traditions, contexts. This is the most helpful book I've ever seen on how to understand, yes, the "sounds" of a poem. It's so clear, so to the point. Can be read in an afternoon.

The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
I think it's a rule that I have to one book of his on this list every year.

The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway
Another book that I read for a class this year, a memoir that writes beautifully about some uglier parts of Australia, something that always attracts me because I too live in a place where you have to look hard to see beauty (but it's there, I think).

Saturday, Ian McCewan
Man, lots of Brits on this list, it seems. Boot said it best.


letsgothrow said...

Thanks for the shout out. :)

PirateGecko said...

Hmm..some of those books sound interesting.
By the way, sleep is totally overrated. :D

sarahjane said...

i have the sounds of poetry and the road on hold at the library, so i'm intersted to see if i like them (i'm pretty picky, believe it or not). i think i prefer books about poetry to poetry, usually. i'm not touching jane austen . . . ever.

Mr. Hill said...

On Austen, you sound just like my students, Sarah. I think many of them equated the sophistication of her prose style with seriousness and therefore missed the narrator's reserved wit. I don't blame them, I guess. We just kind of threw the book at them on a summer reading list, so they didn't really know what they were getting.

Let me know if you like that Murakami book (and sorry I lost your place in it when I picked it up). He's one of my favorites.

I'll let you borrow The Road to read. My copy has been read by three people now.

And that Cash of yours. Man. Cath and I have been playing "It Aint Me Babe" on geetar some lately; we should have serenaded him last night.

mbh said...

i know this has nothing to do with favorite books, but i was wondering if you had recently heard any new good bands i might like. i am running out of listening material. i checked out grizzly bear and that was cool. I NEED MORE MORE MORE! --mason

Mr. Hill said...

On Sarah's husband's recommendation, I have been listening to Band of Horses all day, and am really liking them.

That Peter Bjorn and John record I mention below on my list of favorite 2006 records has really grown on my lately too.

Knowing your taste, I think both of them you'd dig. Dig? Plus, the new Shins will be out soon, too, if you don't have to leaked bootleg version.

mbh said...

thanks a lot. i will check them out. oh and yes i do have the shins album... believe it or not i've had it since october. it's really good although i think their previous albums are better. that's always the case isn't it?

mbh said...

by the way.. i dont know if you have heard of Mew but they are an amazing Danish band. it's hard to explain but they are something like epic prog/indie/rock and they roolz.

sarahjane said...

man, i love "it aint me babe." we just rewatched walk the line over christmas in honor of our own cash. i don't know why i can't make it through jane austen. i think it's because of all the obsessed fans who start jane austen book clubs and constantly compare every work of literature to austen's (or to "jane eyre"--did you ever notice that?). i will borrow the road, thank you. once i read my friend mike's copy of "the life of pi" that was being passed around and everyone signed the front inside cover. by the way, we forgot to ask you to take a family portrait while you were over the other night. can you?

Mr. Hill said...

I just put up a couple of shots from the other evening on my picasa site; I'll email you the link.

I'd love to take a portrait, too.

Mr. Hill said...

And another thing, Sarah, I feel bad that you never got invited to join those Jane Austen book clubs, but I'm not sure it's right to hang your social anxieties on an author who has been dead for 200 years.