Timing My Tomes
It’s my practice not to read new books. I don’t want to get all caught up in the hoopla over something that turns out to be dreck or worse. I wait a few years and then read those books that’ve stood the test of time. With that in mind, here are the titles from this year’s New York Times 100 Notable Books that I fully intend to read by the year 2025:
● City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg
A novel about the dark side of New York City in the mid-70s. Remember that time? NYC, to the rest of the inhabitants of this holy land, was a garbage-strewn, drug-infested, shithole better off being wiped off the face of the Earth. Then 9/11 happened and everybody pretended to love the place.
● Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
A picture of a marriage from the POVs of both the wife and the husband. I look forward to discovering how Groff handles it.
● Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years, by Thomas Mallon
This is a weird choice for me. I read Mallon’s novel of Watergate, entitled — duh — Watergate. It stunk, revealing nothing new and being painfully short on drama and suspense. Still, Reagan fascinates me so I’m willing to give Mallon another chance.
● Leaving Berlin, by Joseph Kanon
A Cold War thriller set in East Berlin. The world came thisclose to blowing itself up over the once and future German capital back in the late 1950s and early 60s, so a fictional peek into that time and place ought to be a good one.
● Mislaid, by Nell Zink
Described as a “screwball comic novel” about family dynamics, race, and sexuality. Okay, I’m game.
● The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
A debut novel chronicling a Detroit black family. I’m interested to see what Detroit will become in the future. Will blacks and the poor be driven out by opportunistic gentrifiers? Will it continue to slide into hopelessness and squalor? Will it be a model city for a resurrected, dynamic black culture? Perhaps this book’ll provide a clue or two.
● Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates, who spoke at Indiana University in October, writes a book-length letter to his son and refuses to bullshit him.
● Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery, by Henry Mersh
The neurosurgeon details surgeries and considers the moral and societal implications of same.
● Empire of Cotton: A Global History, by Sven Beckert
The cotton trade has given us inexpensive, dependable clothing as well as slavery, war, notions of racial superiority and other ills.
● Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, by Jill Leovy
Are the cops killing black men all out of proportion to the victims’ population numbers? If so, why?
● Negroland: A Memoir, by Margo Jefferson
The author grew up in Chicago’s refined, upper-middle-class black enclave. As such, she was simultaneously admired, envied, privileged, discriminated against, and shunned.
● Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman
Autism has been ill-defined and misunderstood since it was first described by medical and psychological experts. What if the truth is we’re all on the spectrum?
Now the question will be, which of the aforementioned titles will turn out to be a dud? If any does, at least I won’t have wasted precious hours and days reading it.