W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
Since we’re deep into the season of “year end” lists, here’s a list of ten great novels written by women that didn’t get a lot of critical attention this year. That isn’t to say that aren’t a ton of other books deserving of this distinction, just that these are some really good ones. Go list-crazy and pair with our own Year in Reading series.
“[L]isting The Bible proves detrimental for both sexes while listing Fifty Shades of Grey results in women getting 16% fewer messages and Harry Potter losing men up to 55%.” In recent duh news, a study by dating site eHarmony found that book readers are found to be “more intellectually curious than most and find it easier to form open and trusting relationships with others” – but not all books are equal, reports The Independent.
Recommended reading: elderly sisters contend with the youngest dying, in a quietly wry new story by Allegra Goodman at the New Yorker. “She pretended to sleep, and then she really did drop off. When she woke, her sisters were hovering over her. Some of us have overstayed our welcome, Jeanne thought. And then, with sudden shock, No: I’m the one. That would be me.”
Time to dust off the old John Irving Recurring Themes Matrix because his new book In One Person is out today. Also out are Home by America’s last Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s hotly anticipated sequel to Booker- and Rooster-winning Wolf Hall. Also out is I Am a Pole, Stephen Colbert’s “children’s book” that was inspired by an epic visit from Maurice Sendak. Out in paperback is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.