NOTE: This mini list originally appeared on the Tin House Blog, but I've expanded on it here to include other books of note that I read...
Novel: It’s gigantic and serious and I’m only halfway through, but The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis is unbelievably good, absurdly ambitious and beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s not cool in a certain boring way, and I worry that people haven’t really been hearing about it as much as they should. Same thing happened with this book called Moby Dick, by this fella named Herman Melville. Consider yourself warned!
I also finally read Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, which I adored. And two excellent debut novels by people I know: You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt, In The House Upon The Dirt Between The Lake And The Woods by Matt Bell. There were others, but I can't recall what they were.
Short Story Collection: It’s been a crazy good year for collections of stories, so this is tough, but I’d have to say Laura Van Den Berg’s Isle of Our Youth. Her stories are so startling, so apt. They’re shockingly original, but they somehow manage to not come off as gimmicky.
Isle of Our Youth was neck and neck with Jodi Angel's incredible debut You Only Get Letters From Jail. There was a collection by some guy named George Saunders, but anyway. I read Danielle Evans' remarkable Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Oh my, and several of the best stories I read this year were in Peter Orner's new collection Last Car Over The Sagamore Bridge.
Poetry Collection: The frowning barefoot kid on the cover of Ed Skoog’s Rough Day is his mother, circa 1939. She has her pet crow perched on her lap. In an interview, Skoog said, “The book is about a lot of things, and one is trying to reconstruct a sense of self after loss. For me that’s the passing of my mother almost 10 years ago. How to rebuild the world after rupture.”
Otherwise, I read James Arthur's remarkable and restrained Charms Against Lightning. And a lot of solo poems, scrounged out of literary journals or the internet. I seem to be reading more poetry by the month.