Whether you were a Gone Girl lover, or a fan of the pretty racy Fifty Shades of Grey, you have to agree that 2012 was a great year for books. Fiction (The Round House), nonfiction (The Signal and the Noise), a whole shelf full of music bios (Bruce, Neil, Pete, Mick and more) and hundreds of other faves. But what’s next?
Here are the five titles I’ve either gotten a look at or am most interested in grabbing as soon as I can in 2013.
Lawrence Wright: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Why are so many creative types lured by the church of L. Ron Hubbard? Wright, who wrote previously about another impenetrable group -- Al Qaeda -- turns his considerable attentions to the religion proud to count Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its many members.
Michael Pollan: Cooked
Remember when Mom used to slave all day over a hot stove to feed us all at the table at night? So does Michael Pollan, who is, in equal parts, nostalgic for the old days and worried about what our era of prepared and processed foods does to our health and happiness.
A TRIO OF NOVELS
Meg Wolitzer: The Interestings
Listen closely; the sound you hear when you crack the spine of this big, fat, funny, sad, and smart novel is the sound of Wolitzer hitting one out of the park. Or lighting a firecracker. Or some other cliché that Wolitzer -– author also of the brilliantly mean The Wife and the dazzling The Uncoupling-- would never ever use. She’s way too, well, interesting.
Elizabeth Strout: The Burgess Boys
The author’s Olive Kitteridge -- which won the Pulitzer Prize -- was a triumph of overlapping tales in which a not-terribly-likable school teacher regularly figured. This novel about three siblings (interesting, though, that the title omits mention of the lone sister) torn between their history in small town Maine and the lure of New York, is similarly quiet and winning. As always, Strout’s great gift is for the small moments, and for the unsayable familial things that sometimes get said.
Kate Atkinson: Life After Life
What if life could be a series of re-dos? That’s the question at the heart of Atkinson’s amazing novel that traces the life -- and the potential deaths -- of one fairly ordinary woman in 20th century Britain. Sound gimmicky? It’s not. By 20 pages in, you’ve completely forgotten the conceit and are riding alongside Ursula, who careens through experiences without imagining repercussions -- just like the rest of us.