MOST of the titles here for obvious reasons could make a claim to an end of year list. A few stand out as being perhaps more essential than others, not all were released this year but I only recently discovered them. Your Christmas shopping might include requests for any of these in particular:
Stephen King’s On Writing is and should be essential reading for anyone who picks up a pen, both personal and instructive and fun.
Obviously the story of the year is dominated by Elena Ferrante’s quartet of Neapolitan novels – My Brilliant Friend, A new Name, Those Who Leave and Lost Child – which will survive the test of time, I suggest. Start at the beginning. They would be good summer beach fodder. I would not want to pick out a favourite but the third volume runs through more gears than a Bianchi Intrepida.
More narrow in its appeal but no less visceral is Sebastian Barry’s gay western Days Without End, as much a boys book as Ferrante might be said to be for girls but as we are so multi-sexual these days I would not want to misrepresent you.
Towering over academic circles is Charles C Mann’s awesome 1491 which has the rather dull subline New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. It has some jaw-dropping explanations, a brilliant vision and written with élan enough to appeal to anyone with a passing interest in all kinds of history. More accessible than his more recent 1495.
Graeme Macrae Burnet’s factional reassembling of his own family’s dark secret His Bloody Project deserves a place too. Why it was deemed too popular to win the Booker is a mystery of its own.
Lastly, and again one that was largely overlooked by mainstream press but will be of fascination to anyone interested in the ’60s and ’70s music, is former Rolling Stone editor Fred Goodman’s access to Allen Klein‘s private papers. A fitting epitaph to an era whose esprit has probably vanished with the election of Donald Trump.