What I Read in 2015

I started 2015 with a resolution: To read no more than 52 books. Unfortunately, I went a little over, but hey, nobody got hurt.

The best book I read this year, by far, was Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America, by Damien Ober. Just the most fun I’ve had reading a book in years. I read it twice in succession. Haven’t done that since W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, back in 2001. Still can’t believe this book doesn’t have an American publisher. YOU GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF DOLTS.

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Beyond that, a couple favorites: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Axiomatic by Greg Egan, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories by Paul Bowles, Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren, The Map and the Territory by Michel Houllebecq, Murgunstrumm and Others by Hugh B. Cave, and The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (which is probably the book I’ve most yammered on about to people– it’s just endlessly fascinating).

The best story I read this year was “The Doctor,” by Andre Dubus, which I found in his collection Separate Flights, which I read because I loved his story “The Fat Girl” in The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories— which also contained a wonderful story called “Talk of Heroes” by Carol Bly, who I’d never even heard of before! Then there was “The Thing About Shapes to Come” by Adam-Troy Castro, which just stunned me in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, plus “I, Dreamer” from The Best of Walter Miller, Jr., “Into Darkness” from Greg Egan’s Axiomatic (which should totally be a multi-billion-dollar blockbuster movie by now, what’s the hold up?), and both “The Delicate Prey” and “A Distant Episode” by Paul Bowles (both of which will probably haunt me forever).

The worst book I read this year was Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Good Lord. That was your last chance, Thomas Pynchon.

Anyway, here’s the full list:

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits
Anderson, Poul. The Broken Sword
Anderson, Poul. Three Hearts and Three Lions
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain
Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending
Barth, John. Lost in the Funhouse
Bear, Greg. Eon
Bloom, Amy. Come to Me
Bolt, Ranjit. A Lion was Learning to Ski

Bowles, Jane. Two Serious Ladies
Bowles, Paul. The Delicate Prey and Other Stories
Bradbury, Ray. The October Country
Braunbeck, Gary. Coffin County
Braunbeck, Gary. In Silent Graves
Brown, Fredric. Martians, Go Home
Campbell, Ramsey. The Parasite
Carlson, Ron. Ron Carlson Writes a Story
Carr, John Dickson. The Crooked Hinge
Carr, John Dickson. The Hollow Man

Cave, Hugh. Murgunstrumm and Others
Clarke, Arthur C. A Fall of Moondust
Dubus, Andre. Adultery and Other Choices
Dubus, Andre. Separate Flights
Egan, Greg. Axiomatic
Ellison, Harlan. Strange Wine
Endore, Guy. The Werewolf of Paris
Farris, John. All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
Ferrante, Elena. The Days of Abandonment
Ferrante, Elena. The Lost Daughter

Ferrante, Elena. Troubling Love
Ferris, D.X. Reign in Blood
Glaser, Rachel. Paulina and Fran
Gotthelf, Jeremiah. The Black Spider
Gray, Amelia. Gutshot
Herbert, James. The Fog
Herbert, James. The Rats
Hill, Joe, and Adams, John Joseph, ed. The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015
Houllebecq, Michel. The Elementary Particles
Houllebecq, Michel. The Map and the Territory

Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables
Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day
Izzo, Jean-Claude. Total Chaos
Johnson, Denis. Train Dreams
Kersh, Gerald. Men Without Bones
King, Stephen. Danse Macabre
King, Stephen. Firestarter
Kotzwinkle, William. Doctor Rat
Lauren, Jillian. Everything You Ever Wanted
Le Fanu, Sheridan. Uncle Silas

Lish, Atticus. Preparation for the Next Life
Manchette, Jean-Patrick. 3 to Kill
Manchette, Jean-Patrick. Fatale
McKillip, Patricia. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Miller, Walter, Jr. The Best of Walter Miller, Jr.
Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind
Moorcock, Michael. Behold the Man
Niven, Larry. Ringworld
Nutting, Alissa. Tampa
O’Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners

Ober, Damien. Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America
Offill, Jenny. Dept of Speculation
Pancake, Breece. The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake
Patchen, Kenneth. The Journal of Albion Moonlight
Pollack, Donald Ray. Knockemstiff
Puzo, Mario. The Godfather
Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen
Reed, Kit. Where
Roth, Philip. The Ghost Writer

Rule, Ann. The Stranger Beside Me
Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night
Sloane, William. The Edge of Running Water
Sloane, William. To Walk the Night
Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris. Hard to Be a God
Tryon, Thomas. The Other
Vinge, Verner. A Fire Upon the Deep
Wagner, Karl Edward. In a Lonely Place
Williams, Joy. The Changeling
Wolff, Tobias, Ed. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories

Zink, Nell. The Wallcreeper
Zola, Emile. Germinal

“The TV” on Selected Shorts

You can hear my story “The TV” on Selected Shorts right now, being read by Liev Schreiber on the “Obsessive Compulsive” episode. It’s from an event at the Getty Center earlier this year. Here’s a very exciting picture of the stage I took right before it all happened:

selected shorts

You can read the story in full over at The New Yorker, where it first appeared, or find it in my collection, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.