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.