Thursday, January 5, 2012

12 Books I Can't Wait For In 2012

After perusing both The Millions' Most Anticipated list and The Atlantic's 15 Books To Look Forward To list, it's pretty clear there is, indeed, a lot to look forward to in 2012. Here are 12 books from those (and a few other) lists I'm especially geeked about.

12. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander (Feb. 7) — I read something recently, which of course I can't find again, in which Colum McCann said Englander is the best short story writer alive. High praise! And since I loved Englander's bizarre little novel The Ministry of Special Cases, this volume of short stories will be a high priority. 

11. Wild Thing, by Josh Bazell (Feb. 8) — Bazell's Beat The Reaper was awesome! Uh, that's awesomely disturbing, actually. Can't wait for this follow up.

10. Gods Without Men, by Hari Kunzru (March 6) — British Indian novelist Kunzru's last book, My Revolutions, was fantastic. So, again, I'm excited about this follow-up.

9. Hot Pink, by Adam Levin (March 13) — This is a collection of short stories by the genius, DFW-esque writer who wrote one of my favorite novels of 2010, The Instructions

8. Farther Away: Essays, by Jonathan Franzen (April 12) — This probably won't have quite the same publicity run-up as Freedom did a few years ago, but I'm junkie for anything this guy writes. So this volume of essays is exciting.

7. The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger (May 1) — Since she occupies a spot on the Top 10 Hottest Female Writers list, I should probably check out her new novel...in case, you know, I ever meet her in a bar or something.

6. In One Person, by John Irving (May 8) — I'm a huge Irving fan. This is my most anticipated novel of the year.

5. Home, by Toni Morrison (May 8) — When an American literary institution like Morrison publishes a new novel, you just have to read it.

4. Canada, by Richard Ford (May 22) — Frankly, I was bored to tears by Ford's The Sportswriter and Independence Day, which are supposedly his two seminal works. But this one sounds different enough from those two that I'm willing to give him another shot.

3. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter (June 12) — If this is even a third as good as The Financial Lives of the Poets, Walter may take a few more steps up my "favorite authors" list.

2. Office Girl, by Joe Meno (July 17) — I've never read Chicagoan Meno, but he's always been high on my list, and this novel sounds especially intriguing.

1. Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe (sometime in the fall) — It's been eight years since Wolfe's last novel, the apparently underwhelming I Am Charlotte Simmons. Hopefully the wait's worth it for this long-rumored story about Miami.

What are you looking forward to in 2012?

27 comments:

  1. Great list - I'm looking forward to Beautiful Ruins and Hot Pink as well.

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  2. Ooh thanks for pointing out Jess Walter's new book! I don't even know what it's about but I'm looking forward to it now, LOL

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  3. I always get overwhelmed by The Millions list, but also add a lot to my wishlist. Hot Pink has been there for a while. I'm interested in the new Tom Wolfe, which I didn't know was coming. I actually really liked I Am Charlotte Simmons, although it seems like I'm the only one.

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  4. The book that I'm most anticipating is Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni. I absolutely adored Angelology and I can't wait to read the follow up.

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  5. Your nos. 2 and 3 look especially appealing.

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  6. I'm reading the Englander collection right now and really like it. I'm excited for Irving too; I have to say I like his older work better, but I'm still a total groupie.

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  7. Richard Ford's "Canada" definitely tops my list, but John Irving's new novel runs a close second. I'm with you on Ford's touted novels "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day." While they were good, competent novels, neither of them had the literary fire of my two favorites: "Rock Springs" and "Wildlife." I'm hoping "Canada" is a return to the quality of writing in those two "Montana books." I'm also looking forward to Ron Rash's new novel "The Cove," as well as Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue." And I hadn't known about the new books from Jess Walter and Tom Wolfe, so thanks for that heads up.

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  8. I am so glad that you have distilled all of the talk into such a list as this. I find it all a bit too exhausting to try and keep track of. I am currently listening to and enjoying the audiobook A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and ejoying it. I also enjoy short fiction, so must check out Englander and the Levan collection. Many thanks

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  9. That book list looks very inviting. I'm looking forward to reading 'The Void Trilogy' by Peter F Hamilton... they are 3 mammoth books that one of my friends and I share; and he said they were totally addictive. So, I've waited until he's finished them and I've added them onto my main reading list.
    Then, there's 'The Exotic Life of Anai Nin'... in hard cover. I found this little beauty in a second-hand bookstore and have had it for a few years; so now I've promised myself to read it.
    I have another 15 or so books I've added to my book list to read... however I'm getting my nose into a David Foster Wallace book tonight... it arrived today; and I can't wait to read it. :D

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  10. Oh man, what a great list. Like you, I am looking forward to Irving's new book the most, with Toni Morrison taking an extremely close second. Well, really, I'm looking forward to both equally. I didn't know Franzen had a new one coming out, so now I'm super excited about that, too. Thank you for this post!

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  11. I'm surprised to not see Adam Levin top the list. Oh well, it's true you can never know with a second novel. Usually it's a lot better or a lot worse than the first. Despite not falling in love at all with ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST, I'm still intrigued by Tom Wolfe. I might pick up earlier stuff before BACK TO BLOOD, but I'm interested to read what you think.

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  12. I can't wait for Franzen's book of essays. I think that How to Be Alone is one of the best non-fiction collections I've ever read and I'm looking forward to another helping of the same (hopefully that doesn't set my expectations too high.) I'll also be very happy for the Irving novel as well.

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  13. Well, in spirit, Levin is - but the list is arranged chronologically. Yeah, I can't wait for the Wolfe - whenever it'll be out. It's one of those that has been rumored for a while, and The Millions just says "fall."

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  14. Levin and Walter - nice! Those are two fantastically creative novelists.

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  15. Here's what The Millions said about what it's about: His sixth novel, Beautiful Ruins, unfolds in 1962 when a young Italian innkeeper, gazing at the Ligurian Sea, has a vision: a gorgeous blonde woman is approaching in a boat. She’s an American movie starlet. And she’s dying. Fast forward to today, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a Hollywood studio’s back lot searching for the mystery woman he last saw at his seaside inn half a century ago. The publisher promises a “rollercoaster” of a novel, which is the only kind Jess Walter knows how to write.

    Sounds good to me!

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  16. Yeah, I've been excited about what's next from Levin ever since I read the first few pages of The Instructions. It'll be interested to see what he does with short form fiction. I haven't read Charlotte Simmons, but I do also know a few people, like you, who liked it. Just seemed like it got mostly poor reviews from most readers.

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  17. Interesting - hadn't heard of that novel before. Thanks for pointing it out!

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  18. Have you read Joe Meno before? I hear nothing but awesome things about him - really need to get to The Great Perhaps soon.

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  19. Great to hear the Englander collection is good! I mostly like Irving's older work better, too - but Last Night In Twisted River was actually really enjoyable.

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  20. Re, Ford - yeah, they're definitely deliberate, and I just may not have been in the right frame of mind - expecting something different, maybe - to fully enjoy them. Canada sounds really interesting, though. That's right - I forgot about the rumored new Chabon - that would've definitely made my list, too. Thanks for pointing out the Ron Rash novel - he's not a writer I'd heard of before.

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  21. Yeah, it seems like everyone has a list out - it took quite a while to distill my own. ;) I'm sure I'm missing a thing or two - especially debut novels. Glad to hear you're enjoying Owen Meany - that's one of my favorite novels of all time!

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  22. WOOHOO to David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest, or other?

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  23. Yeah, I love Franzen's nonfiction almost as much as his fiction. I've only read parts of How To Be Alone - maybe I should go back and finish that one off before Farther Away.

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  24. Actually, it's 'Brief Interview With Hideous Men'... have you read it? Is it good? I'm in a bookray on Bookcrossing with it; so far, I'm onto story two; and the writing is *so* little! But he's such an intellectual writer; and he's kept me wanting to read more.

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  25. I have read Brief Interviews - not my favorite DFW, but still very interesting. He is a master at playing with form.

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  26. So much to read...I was so psyched to hear that Englander's coming out with a new collection, given how much time passed between his first collection and Ministry. I suspect I'll be returning to your list for some reading ideas in the future...I may try Hot Pink before The Instructions, since I'm not sure I can commit to a big novel right now.

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  27. Patrick (at The Literate Man)January 11, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Fantastic list, Greg. I'm with you on John Irving - he may be my favorite living novelist. But I'm also very excited for Back to Blood. As a transplant to Miami, I can tell you that it is a city full of characters that is really still searching for its identity - great fodder for any novelist, especially one of Wolfe's stature.

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