According to the elves at Goodreads, I’ve read 70 books so far this year, a feat made possible by the fact that I finally figured out how to get New York Public Library audiobooks onto my iPhone. Many were…just fine. Others had me pushing the fast forward button like a post-operative patient with a morphine drip. A few, like Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni, were serendipitous discoveries. I was underwhelmed by one series of novels that writer friends have been urging me to read for years, but I was also forced to rethink my Hands-Off-Classic-Literature! position by Jo Baker’s Longbourn, which was just wonderful. (Also by the recently televised Death Comes to Pemberley, but I don’t suppose that counts…). Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall lived up to its ecstatic reputation (though I’m not sure I’d have been able to follow the action if I hadn’t recently watched The Tudors on television…). I decided to read Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography in anticipation of The Public Theater’s coming tour de force, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (which I was lucky enough to see in workshop), so when I go back to see it another 10 times I’ll know more about the man’s life and times. My all-around picks for the year? Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, a scrupulously researched dissection of the cult. (Yes, cult. What, you thought I was going to call it a “religion”?) And John Searles’s Help for the Haunted, a beautiful novel about the natural — rather than the supernatural — kind of haunting. Finally: praise for Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir, The Light of the World, a meditation on grief and life, which will be published in April 2015.
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