Some time during the month of December, squeezed in between the eggnog and the marathon sessions at malls swollen with frantic shoppers, I hope everyone has a moment or two to reflect on the last year. And as you are reflecting, I hope you set aside another, smaller moment to think about some of the great books you’ve read in the past year. I’ve asked several readers of The Millions to do some reflecting, and the results have begun to pour in. Over the next days and weeks, I’ll be sprinkling these reflections throughout The Millions for your enjoyment. Pay close attention because some of these folks may become regular contributors to The Millions in the coming months. If you want to join in the fun, email me and tell me what the best book you read this year was. Today, we’ll start things off with a couple of Canadians. Andrew Saikali (a new contributor here at The Millions).
Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinski – the first book I read by him and the book that single-handedly changed the way I think of non-fiction books. A collection of journalistic notes and descriptions of historical photos, assembled in such an extraordinary way that the reader gets a complete and provocative impression of the atmosphere and revolutionary mind-set leading up to the fall of the Shah.
Also weighing in is Roy Santin, another reader from north of the border.
My pick of the year is Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal (excerpt), shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2003- it’s very juicy, verging on nasty gossip, coming across as a very light insignificant thing that was tossed out, but actually is a very deep and thoughtful meditation on contemporary society both in our personal communities of family and friends and wider social trends. It’s also an interesting meditation on communication, intention and conflicting interests. It’s a lot of fun, with significant intimations on important issues.
Stay tuned for more reflections coming soon.