September provided me with a chance to recover from War and Peace, which, though really good, was taxing. Given a few more days, this would be a longer list as I finished the month in the middle of several books. Among them, David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks which is my long book for September and so far quite brilliant.
I’m also still slugging away at Shakespeare. I have, I think, 13 plays left. I’m not sure I’ll finish it this year. It come down to how I handle my free time during winter break. We’ll see.
1. Residence on Earth by Pablo Neruda (5/5) – Cate got this for me for my birthday. Neruda can be very uneven, but this is his best-regarded volume, apparently, and for good reason. It’s glorious all the way through. It’s been a long time since I thought about a volume of poetry after I finished it as much as I think about this one. One of the best collections I’ve ever read.
2. As You Like It by William Shakespeare (5/5) – I’m running out of things to say about Shakespeare, but this was really great. I think it actually displaces A Midsummer Night’s Dream as my favorite.
3. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (4/5) – The first text my AP class read this year. Ethan Frome isn’t my favorite Edith Wharton, but it is very good. My students seemed to generally love it, though they were frustrated by the choices the protagonist didn’t make.
4. The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (5/5) – The second to last book on Cate’s list for me this year is one of the best books I’ve read all year. Stunning prose all the way through. Wonderful story. Art breathing through every bit of it.
5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (5/5) – I’ve read this more than once before, of course, but this time I really took notice of the character development. Shakespeare often doesn’t take the time to fully flesh out the secondary characters, but there are loads of wonderfully formed people here.
6. The Island of Knowledge by Marcelo Gleiser (4.5/5) – This might be the best pop-physics book I’ve read. A great intro for someone just starting to explore.
7. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (4/5) – Nice. Silly. Lots of dirty jokes. Not my favorite comedy, but definitely amusing.