Who knew, in 1997, say, that the Internet would become so list-obsessed as it is today? Well, I didn’t. And the list-making is really out of control. They’re all coming at you, every list, and it’s a lot. It’s fine by me; I like lists. But it’s only with some misgivings that I’m putting out these couple year-end lists. There’s this post, and I’ve got another one coming with a run-down of everything read in 2013 and what I hope to read in 2014 (“Year in reading, ’13-’14”). That one’s not coming until Jan 1 or Dec 31, though.
Okay, the only lists I’ve seen so far this year that really made a dent on me were Jerry Stahl’s list of the “15 Junkiest Books About Drugs,” which covers a lot of seedy books I don’t know, surely some adventurous and seedy reading there. Then there’s these two lists of “world literature,” or literature in translation, deemed really good or the best, which brought on my radar some books previously unknown to me: Publisher’s Weekly Translation List; Flavorwire’s 50 Recommended Works in English Translation. Then, lastly, there’s Dalkey Archive Press’s humongous list of “works every student should read,” compiled from the recommendations of their academic advisors; basically, the canon and then some.
In addition to these, there’s my own list of the “best of 2013 books I might someday read.” I don’t read enough books as they come out to pompously draw up a “best books of the year” list, but I do take in a lot of contemporary criticism, so I’m deluged with commentary on the big releases of the year as well as some of the little ones. I don’t think I will ever touch The Goldfinch, The Luminaries, or Bleeding Edge, The Flamethrowers, The Kraus Project, or any of the other books that I’ve read so much about this year, but here are some of the books that I might eventually track down:
Recalculating, Charles Bernstein (I got to see Bernstein read in the spring! He’s incredible!)
A Brief History of Yes, Micheline Aharonian Marcom
Permission, S.D. Chrostowsa
Dublinesque (2012), Enrique Vila-Matas
The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud
Mira Corpora, Jeff Jackson
Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz
Enon, Paul Harding
Middle C, William Gass
Seibo There Below, Laszlo Krasnahorkai
Blinding, Miria Cartarescu
My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard
Anyways, for me it’s back to the 19th century, to Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma, translated by the mighty Richard Howard, a book which all who have read it know is delightful and excellent.