Tag Archives: best of

Novel Readings 2012

2012 seems to have been a particularly rich and rewarding reading year – also, a particularly maddening and occasionally stultifying one. I suppose what I’m saying is that it was a reading year like any other one! As always, some books stand out, though sometimes as much for the challenge and gratification I found in […]

“A Tincture of Grandness in Simplicity”: T. H. White, The Once and Future King

It comes back to the geese, in the end. I hoped it would, because of all the marvellous episodes in Wart’s education (the tyrannical pike, the totalitarian ants, the philosophical badger), his time with the geese is the most sublime. It’s beautifully written, for one thing, detailed and evocative, freely fanciful: The sun, as it […]

‘Baking Has Assumed a Sinister Character’: My Grandmother the Writer

My grandmother was a remarkable woman–energetic, vivacious, difficult, independent. Above all, she was what she called a “word person”: she loved to read, and nearly half way through her life she discovered that she also loved to write. In 1955, after staying home for years to raise my father (her only child), she launched a […]

Novel Readings 2010

My turn! Here’s my traditional look back at the highs and lows of my reading and blogging year. Book of the Year: Hands down, and entirely to my delighted surprise, since I had no particular expectations going into it, my favourite book of the year was Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. I raved […]

A. S. Byatt, The Children’s Book

The Children’s Book has a tremendous solidity to it, a kind of fearless pedantry that I think a reader is bound to find either fascinating and reassuring or tedious, even burdensome–or both, I suppose, at different points in the novel. Mostly, I liked the novel a lot, though I can’t say I loved it because […]

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

If you ever read a book, or were a child, or read a book to a child–if your childhood was shaped in any way by the books you read–then you should buy this book and read it immediately. It’s available at the astonishingly low price of $5.36 U.S. from Amazon. Go order it. Now! Then […]

Novel Readings 2009

It’s time for my annual review of the highs and lows of my reading year. Books I’m most glad I read, either for the intrinsic richness of the aesthetic, affective, or intellectual experience they offered, for the conversations they generated, or for the ideas and connections they offered for my teaching and research: 1. Daniel […]

Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost

“So many people know these horrible stories by now,” Daniel Mendelsohn reflects near the end of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; “what more was there to say? How to tell them?” The Lost itself is, of course, his answer. This extraordinary book, at its simplest level, is a more or less […]

Novel Readings 2008

One of the best features of blogging is turning out to be the record it provides of my reading experiences. 2008 doesn’t seem to have been my most rewarding year of novel reading (being on sabbatical for part of last year accounted, in part, for the greater number and variety of books I went through […]

Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

Bel Canto is a beautiful, poignant, and fragile novel about the beauty, poignancy, and fragility of art and love. The simplicity of its narrative suits the underlying simplicity of its ideas: that music can transcend differences, for instance, or that art and love and beauty matter and should be nourished and shared. In the early […]

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I recently took the widely recommended step of securing a “domain of my own” and I am gradually consolidating my online content there, including Novel Readings. I’m posting at both locations for now, but I have disabled comments at this location. You can leave comments on my new site; you may want to update your RSS feeds to follow me from there.

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