You Want Lists, Eh?

Since I’ve cracked the 100 book reading barrier this year, I figured it was time to note the best books of the year. And by best books, I mean books I happened to read since January (though not necessarily published this year) that I greatly enjoyed:

John Barth, The Book of Ten Nights and a Night
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Paula Fox, Desperate Characters
Andrew Sean Greer, The Confessions of Max Tivoli
Joseph T. Hallinan, Going Up the River
Dennis Loy Johnson, The Big Chill
A.L. Kennedy, Original Bliss
John P. Marquand, So Little Time
McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Geoffrey Perrett, America in the Twenties
Frederic Prokosch, The Asisatics
Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing
Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell
Chang Rae-Lee, Aloft
Ben Rice, Pobby and Dingan
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
Sarah Waters, Fingersmith
Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerberus

Best “New” Discoveries: Carol Shields, Paula Fox, Eric Kraft, David Mitchell

Biggest Disappointments: Susanna Clarke, Stephen King, David Lodge, Kevin Starr, Neal Stephenson, Tom Wolfe

Unequivocal Justification for Dave Eggers to Abdicate Control of the McSweeney’s Empire: McSweeney’s 13 (edited by Chris Ware) and McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (edited by Michael Chabon)

And here are a few more lists (which really can’t compete with the fine lists Rory’s serving up these days or Rex’s crazed obsession):

Best Movies of 2004:

1. Before Sunset
2. Sideways
3. Spider-Man 2
4. Tarnation
5. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
6. Kinsey
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
8. Zatoichi
9. The Manchurian Candidate
10. The Incredibles

Best Musical Comeback: U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb


  1. So the latest Barth was really worth it? I had an arc of the previous one and was so annoyed by it, I never even finished it. It made me wary of the new one.

  2. I included it on the list, not only because I was impressed with how Barth managed to resuscitate his own material, but because he’s the only recent writer in recent memory to dwell upon the ramifications of post-Sept. 11 without falling into the usual cliches. Barth specifically goes for a “What does art mean?” angle. It’s heavy on the pomo side, but the best stuff Barth’s turned out in years.

  3. 100 books! I was rather impressed by my own 56 or so at this point figuring 5 a month ain’t too shabby. Inspired and awed by your prowess, I will try to pull together my ten best nonetheless.

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