Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge
by Bryan Harvey

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Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'
by Bryan Harvey

A world of child soldiers & cowboys

A world of child soldiers & cowboys
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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'
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Some of These Books Weren't Even Published in 2011

January 1, 2012

Without counting the books I read every year for my high school English classes, I read approximately thirty books in 2011(most published in some other time). Here are the ten that I found the most memorable (for me at least and in the order that I read them):

Palo Alto by James Franco 

Was it a great book? No. But I would recommend it to anyone who grew up in a college town during the seventies or eighties. Personally, I found it easy to swap Palo Alto with Athens, Georgia. Plus, while some people will look at some of Franco's metaphors as graphic, juvenile, or obscene--the stuff of writing workshops--I found the fact that he created a motif of candy bar nougat, semen inside of children's books, and busted rainbows to be creative and daring.

Look At the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut

Just a great collection of short stories, quite a few of which worked extremely well in my Creative Writing classes. The experience of reading it now is like listening to all the rough recordings of a band that's already made it prior to them making it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

I first read this book in fourth grade, and when I read it then, it was about what boys do when they're left to just being boys. I even dressed like Huck for Halloween one year, and to get the costume just right, I went outside and played in it all day before trick or treating. Reading it again was especially cool paired with the Ken Burns documentary on Twain's life and considering that this happened last year.

When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss

Reading this book is like stepping into Mad Men, if only the show were about an obsessively driven football coach. Anyone interested in America and sports in the first half of the twentieth century needs to read this book. First, it will inform you, and then it will bring you to tears.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

A book that I appreciated more after the reading of it had passed. In a year when Time Magazine named "The Protester" Person of the Year, this book became eerily prophetic.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

The book is about the German siege of Stalingrad during WWII, and while many war books are either cumbersome or intimidating, Benioff's was warm and inviting without being too sentimental.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

With some books there's nothing to say other than go and read it. Chabon is amazing.

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neal's America by Joe Posnanaski

Sentimental in all the right ways: After borrowing it from a friend, I gave it to my father for Christmas. Also, now that I think about it, this is an interesting piece to pair with Huck Finn. 

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Most of what I have to say about this novel can be found at Pitchers & Poets.

Summerland by Michael Chabon

I read this with a group of my Creative Writing students after it was described to me as Harry Potter playing baseball, and with that mindset, I read it, which left me wondering if J.K. Rowling were a better craftsman as a writer and more willing to acknowledge her sources of inspiration in her own writing would her books have been less successful. Chabon's weaving of baseball, Norse mythology, and classic Americana eloquently closes the two centuries that brought America into adulthood.

Books that I would love to hear a second opinion on because I was left disappointed:

--The Tiger's Wife by Tea O'Breht (well-written sentences but still wondering why this book received the praise that it did)

--A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (okay, unlike O'Breht's book, I really want to like this book more than I do. I think part of the problem is that I read it after having read Freedom, The Ask, and Super Sad True Love Story and was burned out on literary books about middle-aged people in Brooklyn who became less than what they dreamed of being.)


Bryan Harvey said...

Wow, I just realized how sexist my list appears, but I will not budge--these are the books I liked.

January 2, 2012 at 1:15 PM

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