My Year in Reading; The Best of The Best

What makes a book one of the best of the year? How it stays with me. How it makes me think. The extent to which I can relate to what the author is saying as truth; the extent to which the characters live and breathe.

I have read books for the Man Booker International Prize, The Man Booker Prize, German Lit Month, Spanish Lit Month, Women in Translation Month and my own Japanese Literature Challenge 11. Therefore, some of these books might be obscure to you. But, all of them are worthy.

Here are the ten books of 2017 which stood out most prominently in my mind, which will stick with me far past this year and into the next:


1. A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto (“A master crime writer…Seicho Matsumoto’s thrillers dissect Japanese society.” -The New York Times Book Review; special thanks to Dorian at Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau who sent it to me last year.)

2. Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias 

3. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017)

4. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (by the British author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year, this is a mesmerizing, unforgettable book)

5. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017, won the Goldsmiths Prize 2017, named Irish Book of the Year 2016)

6. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry 

7. Autumn by Ali Smith (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017)

8. Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn 

9. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (a Times book of the year, a Guardian book of the year)

10. Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Steffansson (longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017)

A list of all the books I’ve read this year, and the challenges in which I’ve participated, will be forthcoming.

The link to each book above takes you to Bookwitty, a source which delivers books with free shipping worldwide. 


Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Man Booker long list 2017)

IMG_4294 Never have I read a book like this, one long sentence with no periods in it whatsoever, just a conma thrown in here and there but that does not make it any less readable or powerful as Marcus Conway reviews his life as an engineer, husband, and father at the kitchen table, waiting for his wife and kids

the wife and kids whom we are told about so clearly we feel we have inhabited their home and physically suffered Mairead’s illness from the virus she caught after attending their daughter’s art exhibition in the city, an exhibition of art done in her own blood; or Darragh’s Skype sessions from Australia where  he has temporarily landed; or fought the powers who want to pour cement for the school’s foundation even though Marcus knows the foundation will not hold,

for he knows of everything that will not hold and can name it all, from politics to infidelity to illness to raising one’s children to ultimately, dying.

I cannot imagine a book I will want to win the Man Booker Prize more than this one. You surely must read it.


A quote which contains the title, but by no means a summary of the novel:

“…just before the world collapses

mountains, rivers and lakes

acres, roods and perches

into oblivion, drawn down into that fissure in creation where everything is consumed in the raging tides and swells of non-being, the physical world

gone down in flames

mountains, rivers and lakes and pulling with it also all those human rhythms that bind us together and draw the world into a community, those daily

rites, rhthyms and rituals

upholding the world like solar bones, that rarefied amalgam of time and light whose extension through every minute of the day is visible from the moment I get up in the morning and stand at the kitchen window with a mug of tea in my hand, watching the first cars of the day passing on the road, every one of them known to me….


(Solar Bones was sent to me by SoHo Press, a most timely and precious gift.)