Best Poetry

images-1.jpgDavid Orr writes about the best books of poetry published in 2015. Interestingly, Orr must follow editorial policy and not include a few excellent contemporary poets because the Times must avoid even the hint of favoritism which might be demonstrated by naming one’s friends or acquaintances to a top 10 list.

Although I still contend that my literary focus has been traditionally poetry, I did take a turn into drama when at graduate school and I have been concentrating on all the novels I missed along the way for 20 or 30 years now. Since I have been reading novels to catch up, I have neglected keeping up with the world of poetry and it’s lists such as Orr’s that help me keep my interest alive.

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What Is the Best Book You Read This Year?

best booksI try to rate each book I read during the year and rank them to provide a regular list of titles I particularly admired. I started with a top 20 if I recall but have pushed it up to a top 30 to save myself too many hard decisions. You can browse through my lists and see my choices for my top reads under The Best By Year.

This year I ranked the novel series by John Galway (The Forsyte Saga) and by John Dos Passos (The USA Trilogy) at the top of my list. But since I can’t for sure state that I read those works exclusively in 2014, I will offer my next title as representing the best book I read this last year: Desert by J. M. G. Le Clézio.

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The Best Bad Book You’ve Ever Read

MarxIn the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Bookends Section, the question asked is “What’s the Best ‘Bad’ Book You’ve Ever Read.” This area of the Book Review always asks the question to two individuals in the world of literature or journalism and often the answers constitute a rousing “he-said, she-said” of literary taste and opinion. Not always, however, and the response to the question this last weekend was varied but not especially combative.

For the record, James Parker dipped back into his love of popular genre fiction, selecting Earl Thompson’s 1974 novel Tattoo (I actually read this one) but quickly spreading out his opinion to cover what might be called a genre of bad fiction, from Science Fiction to Rockstar Autobiography. Parker did not convince me that I should read any of the works he reminisces about.

But Leslie Jamison focused on a specific book and then asked a very pointed question (but flunked the answer):

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