Hooliganism: 2013’s Best Reads So Far
I have been going into a blogging rut lately because of various disturbances in my life (rewatching sitcoms, for example) that I felt that I should at least post a short feature to hopefully restart my article production especially reviews and whatnot. Yes, baby steps first.
Anyway, I just remembered that we are already halfway through the year and I have read 37 books so far. From those books, there certainly have been great reads that made half of my year amazing. Here are the top 12 (2 per month):
- Any Human Heart by William Boyd (January) – I like novels that chronicle the life of a man. Novels like these often involve an array of plot points, real people, real events, and epic scope. In this book, Logan Mountstuart (the protagonist) becomes a writer, a spy, and a notorious womanizer. The book totally immersed me in its storytelling and made me connect with the protagonist.
- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (January) – This book is a book that I cannot explain and which left me discombobulated after reading it. It’s an anti-detective story that is more about the mystery of the self rather than tangible mysteries lifted from paperback thrillers. Here, the investigations lead to introspection and self-discovery rather than a murderer or a missing person.
- Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda (February) – There is something powerful about a Neruda poem. It uses everyday language but the author weaves it with such mastery that the poem itself will have an elemental effect on the reader and that the imagery will be as powerful. Reading this book made me sigh a lot of times and reminded me of the enduring power of love, a power that is both magnificent and tragic.
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (February) – A love story that probably has one of the most compelling and surprising love triangles in literature. He populated the pages with tragedy that it’s hard to plod through the book’s pages without feeling melancholic.
- The Queue by Vladimir Sorokin (March) – A novel that is written in pure dialogue and is solely about a gigantic queue for nobody knows what. The inventiveness of Sorokin and his dark humor really made this standout among the books I’ve read in my life.
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (March) – Further proof that Russians can be as funny as they are morose (ehem, Dostoevsky, ehem). The story was very good and it had one of the more unique and hilarious group of characters that I’ve ever read about in a book. Behemoth the gigantic cat is worth the price of admission alone.
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (April) – It’s easy to screw up a novel about teenage sisters who commits suicide one by one but Eugenides avoided the grips of melodrama wrote with skill that she fleshed out each sister masterfully but his true skill came in the form of his collective narrators. Their one voice shouting for the lost sisters of their dreams is something that provides the novel with a haunting air.
- Hunger by Knut Hamsun (April) – Hamsun’s masterpiece is something that will drain your energy while reading it. You will laugh at the ridiculousness of his main character but you will also ask philosophical questions about the self-destructive and intentional nature of his poverty.
- Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (May) – Kundera’s masterpiece about two couples whose lives are interconnected. A love story at face value but a philosophical novel under its skin, it’s an account on how our lives are either defined by its lightness or heaviness.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (May) – One of the more important novels about the American dream and its dangers, The Great Gatsby is the landmark novel of what Fitzgerald called as “The Jazz Age.” Its prose is very lyrical and the things that it has to say about excess still holds a degree of relevance up to this day.
- Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro (June) – Alice Munro’s first short story collection that chronicles the lives of people, especially women, from the small towns of Canada is a book that broke my heart with every story especially when it is about growing up as a woman in an extremely patriarchal society where your destiny has already been decided since birth and where your choices in life are finite.
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (June) – A book that mixed my love for grand, epic stories, comic books, and the immigrant experience, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Or Kav and Clay for short) is something that I read with an attentiveness reserved for very few books.
These 12 books are just the top books that kept me company for the last half-year. 2013 has been a very good year of reading for me and I hope it continues.