2022 Booklist

I read exactly the same number of books as last year, though that doesn’t necessarily mean I read as much. Look through the list below and you’ll find nothing nearly as long as My Struggle (Book 6) or Don Quixote (though the compulsively readable The Goldfinch sprawls way past the 500-page mark.) Of the eight re-reads, Tom Spanbauer’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age-in-1960s-Idaho novel was the most enjoyable, but Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Good Squad proved the most illuminating, particularly in those moments where she anticipated (if not quite fully predicted) the current era.

My ten favorite new-ish books I read in 2022 (unranked; in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

Jennifer Egan, The Candy House

As sequels to Pulitzer Prize-winning novels go, this gets a nod over Andrew Sean Greer’s pretty great Less Is Lost for its sheer ambition. Matching and occasionally exceeding the first book, Egan shifts her focus from music to technology which allows her to cast an even wider net without obscuring the ethical and psychological implications of humans having access to, well, everything.

Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads

Franzen’s long-form fiction is so consistent he might be my favorite current American novelist. This typical-for-him doorstop, the first in a purported trilogy is simply what he does best. A rich but contained familial drama set mostly in 1971, it’s like The Corrections after two decades of lived experience informing an attitude that neither belittles nor deifies its well-drawn characters.

Hannah Gadsby, Ten Steps To Nanette

You’d wouldn’t expect a by-the-numbers memoir from Gadsby or even her one-woman show Nanette simply retold in book form. Although this serves as both memoir and Nanette companion, it’s also a fascinating deconstruction of Gadsby’s history, persona and, in meticulous detail, how she conceived and constructed the monologue that made her infamous.

Jessi Klein, I’ll Show Myself Out

I enjoyed this as much as You’ll Grow Out Of It, television writer/producer/voice actor Klein’s first essay collection from 2016. Following the birth of her son, this sequel consists of amusing, caustic and often riotously funny observations of raising a young child in your 40s. More Sedaris than Bombeck, Klein deserves an audience as bountiful as either of them.

Mary Jo Pehl, Dumb Dumb Dumb: My Mother’s Book Reviews

Best known as a writer/performer on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pehl’s slim but satisfying memoir has a novel slant. Following her mother’s death, Pehl discovers a box full of notecards containing handwritten, haiku-like thoughts on the books she had read. From these pithy remnants, she assembles (with disarming Midwestern humor) a multifaceted portrait of her mom while also surveying her own grief.

Sarah Polley, Run Towards The Danger

A child actor-turned-director/screenwriter, Polley’s been mostly MIA for the past decade; this essay collection explains why. Due to a freak accident, she suffered brain damage that left her unable to work. She’s now recovered (her new film, Women Talking, is in theaters as I write this) and uses this experience as a catalyst for six essays about taking risks, working through trauma and confronting the unknown. Happily, her essaying retains all of the steel-eyed complexity and personable wit of her other creative pursuits.

David Sedaris, Happy-Go-Lucky

The newfound depth and maturity on display in 2018’s Calypso continues in this latest collection. Sedaris muses on life during COVID, naturally, but also centers on his 98-year-old father’s decline and death and his own mortality. Rest assured, even as he delves further into personal and often uncomfortable places (from American gun culture to revelations about his father), he has little difficulty locating the humor in such taboos without coming off as cynical or flippant. 

Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends

Having written a novel set during the 2016 election, Shteyngart’s follow-up concerns a family and their friends sequestering themselves at a crumbling, upstate New York estate in the early days of the pandemic. It reads like a Robert Altman-directed French farce as filtered through the author’s unique, endearing perspective of an immigrant writer/humorist forever navigating/questioning/discovering their own place in America.

Bob Stanley, Let’s Do It

A companion to 2013’s Yeah Yeah Yeah, a history of modern pop (i.e. the Rock and Roll era), this tracks everything that came before, from the dawn of popular music at the turn of the 20th Century to early 1950s crooners and their adherents in the following two decades. It doesn’t cohere as well as its predecessor but Stanley writes so eloquently about everyone from Duke Ellington to Rod McKuen that it winds up another essential tome for nearly all music fans.

Martha Wainwright, Stories I Might Regret Telling You

Often in the shadow of her parents and older brother, Wainwright’s own talent as a singer/songwriter is nothing to scoff at. Her memoir might be the best I’ve encountered by a musician since Liz Phair’s Horror Stories in that Martha exhibits a candor fully in tune with the book’s title without seeming sensationalist or self-indulgent. She’s set a high bar if Rufus ever decides to attempt a memoir of his own.


Here’s my complete 2022 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read):

  1. Tom Gatti (ed.), Long Players
  2. Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads
  3. Tamara Shopsin, LaserWriter II
  4. Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends
  5. Kelefa Sanneh, Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres
  6. Dana Stevens, Camera Man
  7. Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad*
  8. Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store
  9. David Mitchell, Ghostwritten
  10. Chuck Klosterman, The Nineties
  11. Marilynne Robinson, Jack
  12. Peter Terzian (ed.), Heavy Rotation
  13. Mel Brooks, All About Me!
  14. Dale Peck, What We Lost*
  15. Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
  16. Ann Patchett, The Dutch House
  17. Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick*
  18. John Dos Passos, 1919
  19. Stephen King, On Writing
  20. Augusten Burroughs, Running With Scissors*
  21. Alex Jeffrey, Donna Summer’s Once Upon A Time (33 1/3 series)
  22. Bob Odenkirk, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama
  23. Julie Klausner, I Don’t Care About Your Band*
  24. David Sedaris, Happy-Go-Lucky
  25. Karen Fowler Joy, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
  26. Jessi Klein, I’ll Show Myself Out
  27. Sarah Polley, Run Towards The Danger
  28. Mary Karr, The Liars Club
  29. John Waters, Liarmouth
  30. Jennifer Egan, The Candy House
  31. Carson McCullers, Collected Stories*
  32. Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
  33. Sloane Crosley, Cult Classic
  34. Tom Perrotta, Tracy Flick Can’t Win
  35. Lesley Chow, You’re History: The Twelve Strangest Women In Music
  36. Charlie Berens, The Midwest Survival Guide
  37. Amos Vogel, Film As A Subversive Art
  38. Hannah Gadsby, Ten Steps To Nanette
  39. Molly Shannon, Hello, Molly!
  40. Geoff Dyer, The Last Days Of Roger Federer
  41. Kliph Nesteroff, We Had A Little Real Estate Problem
  42. Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg, Full Service
  43. Paul Rudnick, Playing The Palace
  44. Martha Wainwright, Stories I Might Regret Telling You
  45. Patricia Bosworth, Montgomery Clift: A Biography
  46. Bob Stanley, Let’s Do It
  47. Mary Jo Pehl, Dumb Dumb Dumb: My Mother’s Book Reviews
  48. Tom Spanbauer, Now Is The Hour*
  49. Andrew Sean Greer, Less is Lost
  50. Michael Schur, How To Be Perfect
  51. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
  52. Tom Breihan, The Number Ones
  53. Stanley Elkin, Mrs. Ted Bliss
  54. Alan Cumming, Not My Father’s Son
  55. Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life*

2021 Booklist

My ten favorite new-ish books I read in 2021 (unranked; in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil In America: Notes In Praise of Black Performance

Abdurraqib’s latest essay collection is unified by its focus on 20th century black artists: from Josephine Baker and Ben Vereen to Merry Clayton and Michael Jackson, he approaches each subject with a modern, personal angle that often comes off as if this is the first thing you’ve ever read about the person.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, When Women Invented Television

Armstrong’s written books about Seinfeld, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Sex and The City; this one jumps back to the very early days of television, profiling four women whom as content creators, producers and personalities (one of them Betty White, R.I.P.) laid the groundwork to make such later shows possible.

Emm Gryner, The Healing Power of Singing

Longtime indie Canadian singer/songwriter Gryner blends the process and encouragement of a self-help guide (in this case, becoming a better singer) with anecdotes and recollections from her own life (often delving deep into how to make a living as a musician) to the point where it reads more like a philosophy than just a mere instructional guide.

Mark Harris, Mike Nichols: A Life

Harris’ long-awaited Nichols biography does not disappoint: highly readable, it masterfully weaves together all the strands of its subject’s extraordinary life and accomplishments yet also retains a critical eye that Nichols himself might’ve appreciated. Most filmmakers should be so lucky to receive such a thorough, entertaining and incisive overview.

Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This

I picked this up not long after reading Lockwood’s hilarious memoir Priestdaddy, whose intricate, sly wordplay carries over to this, her first novel. Few authors capture the feeling, the serotonin rush of infinite scrolling through social media as well as Lockwood but the kicker is how her narrator gradually disentangles herself away from it and back into the real world.

Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum: Stories

Her ambitious 2019 novel Bowlaway went over my head a bit, but McCracken’s latest short story collection sustains her predilection towards charming oddballs in more digestible installments. Five of the twelve stories revolve around the same two characters (Jack and Sadie), but each one approaches them from different angles and time periods so that they all individually feel complete.

Tom Scharpling, It Never Ends

Veteran comedic radio host/podcasting pioneer Scharpling often comes off as a likable smartass over the air; while his persona successfully translates into print, what’s more notable about this memoir is in how candidly he opens up about his mental health issues, rendering them in the same urgent, crackling language as such anecdotes as his failed audition for the cast of The New Monkees.

Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother

Cinematographer-turned-director Sonnenfeld is either secretly a humorist at heart or just a very funny person. This might be the most loving, damning and self-deprecating book written about neuroses passed down from one’s parents since Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure—rendered so vividly at times that one can imagine the hilarious feature film (or streaming series) Sonnenfeld could easily adapt it into.

Tracey Thorn, My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend

Her most candid and searing book since her first, 2013’s Bedsit Disco Queen, Thorn’s fourth memoir focuses nearly entirely on Lindy Morrison, former drummer for the Australian cult band The Go-Betweens. As someone often written out of that band’s story, Morrison is reclaimed by Thorn as a musician, a feminist and most importantly, an artist while she also charts their decades-long friendship within a male-dominated industry.  

Stanley Tucci, Taste: My Life Through Food

Tucci’s 1996 film Big Night, a celebration of food as a design for living manifests itself in this memoir, which, like Ruth Reichl’s books combines reminiscences with recipes, the latter spanning from the Perfect Martini to the intricate, days long preparation of a Timpano (as seen in Big Night.) The son of Italian immigrants, Tucci also relays with wit and grace his family’s story by way of the food they cooked and cherished.


I had ample time to read this year but I didn’t break any personal records: 55 books, same as in 2019. Granted, I spent much of 2021 gradually consuming two 1,000+ page tomes: the final, supersized-compared-to-the-others volume of Knausgard’s six-part magnum opus, and Don Quixote, which I’ve always wanted to tackle despite having long since given away my used paperback copy acquired in my 20s. I feel like I never need to re-read either again but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them. Both exemplified the notion “the journey outweighs the destination” that Infinite Jest and 1Q84 had for me previously.

My complete 2021 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read):

  1. Michaelangelo Matos, Can’t Slow Down
  2. Jennifer Lewis, The Mother Of Black Hollywood: A Memoir
  3. Merrill Markoe, We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries Of…
  4. Emma Cline, Daddy: Stories
  5. Mo Rocca, Mobituaries
  6. Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman
  7. Rachel Bloom, I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are
  8. Mark Harris, Mike Nichols: A Life
  9. Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy
  10. Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil In America: Notes In Praise of Black Performance
  11. Karl Ove Knausgard, My Struggle, Book Six
  12. Jonathan Lethem, The Arrest
  13. Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This
  14. Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday*
  15. Bill Cunningham, Fashion Climbing
  16. Ann Patchett, The Magician’s Assistant
  17. Jenny Lawson, Broken (In the Best Possible Way)
  18. Christopher Finch, Jim Henson: The Works
  19. Dave Holmes, Party Of One: A Memoir In 21 Songs*
  20. Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights
  21. Alison Bechdel, The Secret To Superhuman Strength
  22. Dale Peck, What Burns: Stories
  23. Dylan Jones (ed.), Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Club Style
  24. Donna Tartt, A Secret History
  25. Haruki Murakami, First Person Singular
  26. Kate Atkinson, Transcription
  27. Tom Scharpling, It Never Ends
  28. Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother
  29. Karen Tongson, Why Karen Carpenter Matters
  30. Ian Bourland, 33 1/3: Blue Lines
  31. Joseph Lanza, Elevator Music
  32. Greil Marcus, Real Life Rock
  33. Rob Sheffield, Dreaming The Beatles*
  34. Francine Prose, The Vixen
  35. Michelle Zauner, Crying In H Mart: A Memoir
  36. Jennifer Finney Boylan, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders*
  37. Marilynne Robinson, Lila
  38. Jonathan Ames, A Man Named Doll
  39. Douglas Coupland, The Gum Thief
  40. Rachel Kushner, The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020
  41. Richard Russo, Chances Are
  42. John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel
  43. Dana Spiotta, Wayward
  44. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, When Women Invented Television
  45. Emm Gryner, The Healing Power of Singing
  46. Tracey Thorn, My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend
  47. Peter Heller, The Guide
  48. Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum: Stories
  49. George Saunders, Tenth of December
  50. Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz*
  51. Michael Cunningham, The Hours*
  52. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
  53. Stanley Tucci, Taste: My Life Through Food
  54. Susan Orlean, On Animals
  55. David Sedaris, A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020

2020 Booklist

My eleven favorite books I read in 2020 (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):


Jennifer Finney Boylan, Good Boy: My Life In Seven Dogs and I’m Looking Through You

I’m highlighting eleven books instead of the usual ten in order to include both of Boylan’s that I read this year: her latest (and fourth) memoir, in which she reflects on different phases of her life by way of her canine companions for each one, and her second memoir, an arguably superior, immersive account of growing up as a boy in a haunted house and how it fortified an extensive search for her true self.


Susanna Clarke, Piranesi

Chiefly known for her great historical fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Clarke reemerges after a long absence with a far more condensed tale than nonetheless contains multitudes. A narrative that initially presents as one thing but gradually reveals itself as entirely something else, it’s the most original novel I read this year; in this case, the act of piecing together what was actually going on was a real thrill.


Andy Greene (ed.), The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s

Having watched the entire series mostly in real time and even after breezing through this oral history, I’m still not convinced the US version of The Office is the greatest sitcom of its decade (the original UK series might be); however, I can’t deny that it’s the most influential and perhaps emblematic TV show of that time, not to mention a blast to read about, even in such intense, nerdy detail.


A.S. Hamrah, The Earth Dies Streaming

I’d never read Hamrah’s film criticism until someone shared his latest annual summation of the year’s Academy Award-nominated titles, upon which I purchased and devoured this collection of pieces from 2002-2018. One of the last books I finished before the shutdowns began, I now remember it as something from another time—especially in Hamrah’s devotion to seeing movies on a big screen and as part of a communal experience.


David Mitchell, Utopia Avenue

I’m not ranking my top books this year, but if I had to single out a clear favorite, it might be this ambitious alternate-history portrait of a short-lived British psych-rock quartet in the late 1960s. Backing away from the sci-fi elements of The Bone Clocks, this is easily my favorite novel of Mitchell’s since Black Swan Green, if not Cloud Atlas. Not everyone will love the imagined interactions with now-deceased real-life celebrities, but Mitchell’s willingness to go there, unironically is an endearing feat in itself.


Trevor Noah, Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood

I was skeptical of Noah when he took over for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show—who wouldn’t be with such an iconic role? But he’s proved himself a worthy and wholly different successor, and the disarming straightforwardness in which he tells his extraordinary life story is a testament as to why. He makes what is often a horrific upbringing sound as harrowing as it needs to be, but also utterly human as he injects humor and wry commentary whenever appropriate.


Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

The first book I read after everything shut down in March and one I can imagine returning to every five years or so. Spanning decades and coasts, Patchett’s mosaic of two families who become forever intertwined when the father of one sleeps with the mother of the other, Commonwealth updates the conceit of The Great American Novel for post-JFK assassination culture, packing a lot into its 300+ pages but never feeling bloated or boring.


Liz Phair, Horror Stories

I’m not surprised that Phair, as far as musicians go, has written a great memoir; however, I didn’t expect such an original and finely executed take on the format. Picking and choosing various anecdotes from her life and career in non-chronological order, the one common thread is an almost literal interpretation of the book’s title: horrible things happen in each tale, but Phair has the wisdom and talent to put them in perspective so that horror is far from the only emotion she’s eliciting.


Tegan and Sara Quin, High School

As for this musical memoir, the Quin twins have co-written a warts-and-all account of being teenagers in mid-90s Alberta. Each one’s discovery of their homosexuality is mirrored by their unearthing of a talent for making music together. By alternating chapters between the two, they also often mirror their experiences and struggles, but it’s even more fun when they diverge, allowing for a unique overview of two lives coming of age both together and apart.


Stephen Rebello, Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!

Rebello co-wrote Bad Movies We Love (1993), one of the all-time best (and bitchiest) books on cinema; while this extensive behind-the-scenes account of the making of the exquisitely campy pill-popping 1967 melodrama Valley of the Dolls is only half as bitchy, it’s still a fizzy read in how meticulously it charts everything from the film’s troubled production to why it genuinely endures as a cult classic today.


Here’s my complete 2020 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read):

  1. Stephen McCauley, My Ex-Life
  2. Liz Phair, Horror Stories
  3. Alex Prud’homme, The French Chef In America: Julia Child’s Second Act
  4. Dylan Jones (ed.), David Bowie: The Oral History
  5. Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
  6. Tegan and Sara Quin, High School
  7. Augusten Burroughs, Toil and Trouble
  8. Brian Rea, Death Wins A Goldfish
  9. S. Hamrah, The Earth Dies Streaming
  10. Richard Russo, Nobody’s Fool*
  11. Ann Patchett, Commonwealth
  12. Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez, Legendary Children
  13. Kate Atkinson, A God In Ruins
  14. Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up And Start Again*
  15. Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
  16. Stanley Elkin, The Franchiser
  17. Zadie Smith, Feel Free
  18. Dale Peck, Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye*
  19. Carol Burnett, In Such Good Company
  20. Samantha Irby, Wow, No Thank You
  21. Jean Shepherd, A Fistful of Fig Newtons*
  22. Bill Bryson, The Body
  23. Derek Jarman, At Your Own Risk: A Saint’s Testament*
  24. Trevor Noah, Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood
  25. Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror
  26. Dorothy Parker, The Portable Dorothy Parker
  27. Paul Murray, Skippy Dies*
  28. Stephen Rebello, Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!
  29. Jennifer Finney Boylan, Good Boy: My Life In Seven Dogs
  30. David Mitchell, Utopia Avenue
  31. Sam Wasson, The Big Goodbye
  32. Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird
  33. Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls*
  34. Richard Russo, Everybody’s Fool
  35. Andy Greene (ed.), The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s
  36. Jennifer Finney Boylan, I’m Looking Through You
  37. Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices
  38. David Rakoff, Half Empty*
  39. Debbie Harry, Face It: A Memoir
  40. Billy Bragg, Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed The World
  41. Tom Spanbauer, I Loved You More*
  42. Marilynne Robinson, Home
  43. Jeffrey Eugenides, Fresh Complaint: Stories
  44. Russ Giguere and Ashley Wren Collins, Along Comes The Association
  45. Lindy West, Shit, Actually
  46. Soseki Natsume, I Am A Cat
  47. MFK Fisher, The Art of Eating
  48. Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories
  49. Susanna Clarke, Piranesi
  50. Caitlin Moran, More Than A Woman
  51. David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames*

2019 Booklist

My ten favorite books I read in 2019; naturally, given recent tendencies, more than half are memoirs:

10. Tracey Thorn, Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia
Thorn’s third memoir reconciles her past and present, with her teenaged diaries serving as a revealing jumping-off point. Ever perceptive, relatable and just a little wry, she details how she initially rejected a provincial life in favor of urban bohemia, only to eventually find a solid middle ground while also remaining a pop star (albeit a most unconventional one.)

9. Wiebke von Carolsfeld, Claremont
Full disclosure: I’m friends with the author, a German-born, Canadian-based filmmaker (Marion Bridge, The Saver). Her debut novel has all of the intuitiveness and empathy of her films; it also excels and engages both as a family kitchen-sink dramedy and via the rich sense of place in which she depicts downtown Toronto.

8. Susan Orlean, The Library Book
Only Orlean would probably think to write an entire book about the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, and only in her hands would it come off so personable and far-reaching. Anyone who’s spent time in a library whether as an employee or a patron will appreciate the lyricism Orlean locates in an underrated but vital municipal institution.

7. Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead In The Rain
Following last year’s great collection of essays, Abdurraqib tightens his focus to an entire book about legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest. Such is his talent and original approach to criticism/memoir that, even if you’re not familiar with the music here (like me), it’s not difficult to get wrapped up in the twin tales being laid out of artist and fan and how each one informs the other.

6. Ben Folds, A Dream About Lightning Bugs
Folds is so utterly himself—musical prodigy, everyman iconoclast, thoughtful goofball—that his own, often rollicking account of his gradual and relatively unusual rise to semi-stardom never plays a false note. Recommended to aging Gen-X-ers, power-pop admirers, recovering workaholics, divorced parents and terminal smartasses.

5. Andrew Sean Greer, Less
A witty comedy of errors that subtly reaches back to such luminaries as Wilde, Waugh and Wodehouse, it also somehow feels of the moment. Following his hero across several continents, Greer’s light touch, combined with an ever-so-slightly acidic demeanor proves irresistible—as complete and satisfying as, say, a Carson McCullers novel, only more generous.

4. Andrew Blauner (Ed.), The Peanuts Papers
How could a collection of essays about Peanuts, one of my favorite things ever, not end up in my top five? These thirty-odd pieces dissect Charles Schulz’s work in a myriad of directions, from comic precedents and critical analysis to memoir and even stylistic parody. All of it conveys that, twenty years on from its creator’s death, the potential Peanuts contains remains endless.

3. Guy Branum, My Life As A Goddess
Branum does not suffer fools gladly, which always makes for a refreshing, readable memoir; that he mostly avoids archness and navel-gazing makes for an uncommonly honest one as well. Whether dishing about former boss Chelsea Handler or writing frankly about obesity, he’s curious and stimulating instead of settling for bitter and bitchy.

2. Ruth Reichl, Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
Reichl’s best book since Garlic and Sapphires, which also happens to be her last work-centric memoir, this is her long-awaited account of her ’00s stint as a editor-in-chief of the now shuttered magazine Gourmet. Previously an outsider to the industry, she provides a fascinating assessment of its politics and inner workings that, over time, turns into a requiem for a fading profession—with recipes, of course.

1. Amy Rigby, Girl To City: A Memoir
I didn’t even know this singer/songwriter, best known for her plucky 1996 solo debut Diary of a Mod Housewife, had written a memoir until I checked her blog a few weeks after it came out. And like Diary did for her music, this proves she’s a natural writer as well. Spanning mostly from her move to Manhattan from Pittsburgh at age 17 in the late ’70s to Diary’s release, Rigby both depicts a lost New York and completely nails the exhilaration and anxiety of being young and on your own and desperately wanting to create art and partake in culture when the everyday world makes it challenging to do so. It gets the top spot here because, more than any musician’s memoir I’ve read in the past few years, I’d recommend it to anyone, even if they’ve never heard a note of Rigby’s music.

Honorable Mentions: Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation; A.M. Homes, Days of Awe; Emily Nussbaum, I Like To Watch; Kate Atkinson, Life After Life; John Hodgman, Medallion Status; Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room

Here’s my complete 2019 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read–8 this year, which is twice as many as in 2018!):

  1. Susan Orlean, The Library Book
  2. Kate Atkinson, Case Histories
  3. Abbi Jacobson, I Might Regret This
  4. Rachel Kushner, Telex From Cuba
  5. Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test
  6. Robert Christgau, Does It Feel Good To Ya?
  7. Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known As The Human Condition
  8. Fredric Dannen, Hit Men
  9. Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead In The Rain
  10. Merrill Markoe, What The Dogs Have Taught Me
  11. Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent*
  12. Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation
  13. Elizabeth McCracken, Bowlaway
  14. Curtis Sittenfeld, You Think It, I’ll Say It
  15. Michelle McNamara, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
  16. Tracey Thorn, Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia
  17. A.M. Homes, Days of Awe
  18. David Sedaris, Dress The Family In Corduroy and Denim*
  19. Paul Myers, The Kids In The Hall: One Dumb Guy
  20. Ruth Reichl, Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
  21. Guy Branum, My Life As A Goddess
  22. Peter Heller, The River
  23. Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories
  24. Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing
  25. Brian Raftery, Best. Movie. Year. Ever.
  26. Frank DeCaro, Drag: Combing Through The Big Wigs of Show Business
  27. Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
  28. Ani DiFranco, No Walls and the Reoccurring Dream
  29. John Waters, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder
  30. Emily Nussbaum, I Like To Watch
  31. Rob Sheffield, Love is A Mixtape*
  32. Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes
  33. H. Jon Benjamin, Failure Is An Option
  34. Andrew Sean Greer, Less
  35. Ramin Setoodeh, Ladies Who Punch
  36. Bob Stanley, Sleevenotes
  37. Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of The Dead*
  38. Douglas Coupland, Eleanor Rigby
  39. Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick, or, Lonesome No More!*
  40. Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
  41. Ben Folds, A Dream About Lightning Bugs
  42. Tom Spanbauer, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon*
  43. David Crabb, Bad Kid: A Memoir*
  44. Wiebke von Carolsfeld, Claremont
  45. Richard Brautigan, So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away
  46. Andrew Blauner (Ed.), The Peanuts Papers
  47. Patti Smith, Year Of The Monkey
  48. Amy Rigby, Girl To City: A Memoir
  49. John Hodgman, Medallion Status
  50. Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping*
  51. Lindy West, Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman
  52. Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room
  53. McDonnell/O’Connell/de Havenon, Krazy Kat: The Art of George Herriman
  54. Vince Aletti, The Disco Files
  55. Alan Bennett, Untold Stories

2018 Booklist

My ten favorite books I read in 2018; interestingly, only one of them is fiction.

10. Gary Shteyngart, “Lake Success”
Shteyngart’s fourth novel is his best since his first, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook; if it feels like the product of an entirely different world, it is. Using the 2016 election as a timeline, he crafts (what is eventually) a redemption tale graced by his trademark satire and self-deprecating humor.

9. Sloane Crosley, “Look Alive Out There”
As much as I liked The Clasp, her stab at a novel, Crosley is first and foremost one of the best humorous essayists this side of the writer who wrote my favorite book of the year (see below). Detailing such hyperspecific concerns as an obnoxious teenaged neighbor or her porn star uncle, her perspective always remains both relatable and uniquely her own.

8. Parker Posey, “You’re On An Airplane”
Exactly the type of quirky and scattered memoir you’d expect and hope iconic actress Posey to write—like spending an afternoon with her in her Manhattan apartment, she’s your guide and confidante, occasionally irritating but so genuine and insightful you’ll follow her wherever she takes you.

7. Nell Scovell, “Just the Funny Parts”
Veteran TV writer Scovell’s book is part memoir, part industry tell-all and part manual for aspirants; it’s also a frank, funny read along a career path where Scovell points out how her profession has changed and all the regrettable ways in which it hasn’t, without seeming bitter or, on the other hand, sentimental.

6. Jon Ronson, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”
Starts out as Schadenfreude: The Book!, develops into something far more unsettling and labyrinthine. Years from now, we’ll probably see a ton of tomes on the psychology and consequences of the golden age of social media and cyberbullying, and they’ll owe a debt to Ronson’s in-the-thick-of-it examination, published almost four years ago already.

5. Tamara Shopsin, “Arbitrary Stupid Goal”
Retaining the short paragraph/stream-of-consciousness structure of her earlier memoir Mumbai New York Scranton, Shopsin centers on her beloved father Kenny, an irascible, magnificent chef whose namesake restaurant was a Greenwich Village institution for decades; I read this six months before his passing, and in retrospect, it’s an elegy fit for a genuine New Yorker.

4. Michael Powell, “A Life In Movies”
Long out-of-print, I finally procured a copy of this British filmmaker’s first memoir, which covers his life until 1948 when he made his greatest hit, The Red Shoes. For someone who lived through so many cultural changes, partially defining them with his enviable run of 1940s classics co-directed with Emeric Pressburger, his conversational style and amiable wit are always welcome.

3. Hanif Abdurraqib, “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us”
Maybe the most original music critic I’ve read in years—often from his home base in Columbus, Ohio, Abdurraqib defies categorization, an omnivore writing passionately and eloquently on Future and Nina Simone, but also Fall Out Boy and Carly Rae Jepsen. Using both a Marvin Gaye tale and a trip to Ferguson, Missouri as framing devices, he cements his status as a chronicler of the here and now.

2. Joe Hagan, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine”
Perhaps this is really Schadenfreude: The Book, only with the comeuppance forever hanging in the air like a dangling, loosened noose. Those who already despise boomer narcissism will only feel further incensed by this portrait of Wenner, whom Hagan early on accurately describes as the Trump of the Left; still, his often jaw-dropping exploits make for such blisteringly funny copy that if you’re at all a fan of late 20thCentury pop culture, you will be no less than entertained.

1. David Sedaris, “Calypso”
When a writer so initially focused on his own obscurity and shortcomings like Sedaris becomes so immensely popular, it threatens to derail the very essence of his humor and sensibility (you can parse it in the books immediately following Me Talk Pretty One Day). Fortunately, his latest suggests he’s grown into this new skin by, of all things, challenging the notion of what readers want from his essays. That’s a roundabout way of saying Calypso is darker and more melancholy than anything he’s previously done, with the suicide of his youngest sister and his 92-year-old father’s mortality both primary threads running through the entire set. Rest assured, he’s still funny and sharp and acutely observational, but with a newfound depth suggesting his best work may be yet to come.

Also, even though it didn’t make my top ten, I have to mention Infinite Jest, which I spent a little over three months slowly combing my way through. To say I loved or hated it doesn’t seem like enough—at the end, I felt as if I endured it more than anything. It is like nothing else I’ve read, for sure, and I’m glad I consumed it, footnotes and all. Be forewarned, though: it requires patience, determination and openness.

Here’s my complete 2018 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read–only four this year!):

  1. Joe Hagan, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine”
  2. Tom Spanbauer, “Faraway Places”*
  3. Steve Toltz, “Quicksand”
  4. James Mackay (ed.), “Derek Jarman Super 8”
  5. Jenny Lawson, “Furiously Happy”
  6. Julia Phillips, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again”
  7. Patty Yumi, “Sorry To Disrupt The Peace”
  8. Tamara Shopsin, “Arbitrary Stupid Goal”
  9. Tom Perrotta, “Mrs. Fletcher”
  10. Douglas Coupland, “Bit Rot”
  11. Joy Press, “Stealing The Show”
  12. Jon Ronson, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”
  13. Dale Peck, “The Law of Enclosures”*
  14. Penny Marshall, “My Mother Was Nuts”
  15. Jomny Sun, “Everyone’s An Aliebn When You’re An Aliebn Too”
  16. Sam Wasson, “Improv Nation”
  17. Hanif Abdurraqib, “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us”
  18. Samantha Irby, “Meaty”
  19. David Foster Wallace, “Infinite Jest”
  20. Steven Hyden, “Twilight of the Gods”
  21. David Sedaris, “Calypso”
  22. Jennifer Egan, “Manhattan Beach”
  23. Charles Taylor, “Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You”
  24. Ruth Reichl, “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life”
  25. Chuck Klosterman, “Chuck Klosterman X”
  26. Jim Meehan, “Meehan’s Bartender Manual”
  27. Margaret Atwood, “Alias Grace”
  28. Chuck Eddy, “Terminated For Reasons of Taste”
  29. Caitlin Moran, “How To Be Famous”
  30. Geoff Dyer, “White Sands”
  31. Richard Brautigan, “The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966”
  32. Tig Notaro, “I’m Just A Person”
  33. Nell Scovell, “Just the Funny Parts”
  34. Parker Posey, “You’re On An Airplane”
  35. Dale Peck, “Night Soil”
  36. Kurt Vonnegut, “Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons”*
  37. Rob Sheffield, “On Bowie”
  38. Ezra Furman, “Transformer (33 1/3 series)”
  39. Kevin Allison (ed.), “Risk!”
  40. A.M. Homes, “Things You Should Know”
  41. Gary Shteyngart, “Lake Success”
  42. Richard Russo, “The Destiny Thief”
  43. Karl Ove Knausgard, “My Struggle, Book Five”
  44. Celeste Ng, “Everything I Never Told You”
  45. Sloane Crosley, “Look Alive Out There”
  46. Amy Gentry, “Boys For Pele (33 1/3 series)”
  47. Michael Powell, “A Life In Movies”
  48. Tim Kreider, “I Wrote This Book Because I Love You”
  49. Jean Shepherd, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”*
  50. John Darnielle, “Universal Harvester”

2017 Booklist

In the past, I’ve singled out my ten favorite reads of the year, either in alphabetical order by author, or in the order I finished reading them. This year, I’m actually ranking them by preference.

10 – David Sedaris, Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002
You’d expect selections from a personal essayist’s diaries to be worth reading and Sedaris doesn’t disappoint—particularly from the mid-80s on, as he attends the Art Institute of Chicago and develops his true voice as an observer of exceptionally absurd conversations, many of them overheard at his local IHOP.

9 – Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
I’ve rarely laughed so ravenously as I have at Irby’s oft-raunchy but bracingly real writing, whether she’s cataloging a love/hate relationship with a rescue-cat named Helen Keller, or constructing a play-by-play account of a suburban Chicago wedding.

8 – Jason Zinoman, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night
If it feels a little too concise for a biography of so iconic a humorist of his time, note that Zinoman’s less interested in the enigma that is Letterman’s personality and more on the man’s contributions to television and comedy and how he completely reshaped and forever altered both.

7 – George Saunders, Lincoln In The Bardo
A searing, ambitious novel with so many intricate moving parts, I’m sure I missed a few along the way. Still, what matters most is the shimmering whole, which utilizes the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son as stage for a phantasmagoric chorus teetering between our world and the beyond. Looking forward to eventually hearing the audiobook of this.

6 – Francine Prose, Mister Monkey
Prose’s best novel in over a decade transforms an unlikely premise—a kiddie musical, performed off-off-off-Broadway unto perpetuity—into a multi-faceted circular narrative that depicts worlds within worlds while remaining within a tight, ordered frame. It’s almost Waiting For Guffman crossed with Pulp Fiction.

5 – John Hodgman, Vacationland
Having found Hodgman’s previous books of deliberately fake “facts” much easier to admire than love, it was delightful to discover what talent he has for memoir, not to mention a knack for detailing the peculiarities of Western Massachusetts and coastal Maine, particularly in relation to his own encroaching middle age.

4 – Michael Ausiello, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies
Longtime TV industry journalist Ausiello’s account of losing his husband to cancer is wrenching, for sure—and also remarkably candid in how it depicts the ins and outs of a loving, long-term relationship. It’s also self-deprecating and often funny as hell, without at all obscuring the real hell life occasionally throws at you.

3 – Nathan Hill, The Nix
This epic, John Irving-esque debut novel surfaced on a lot of best-of lists in 2016; unlike a few other doorstoppers I’ve picked up recently, it earns all of its pages. At its center are a struggling author/professor and the radical activist mother who walked out on his family two decades earlier. From there, narrative threads effortlessly expand into a tapestry that feels both inclusive and singular.

2 – Robert Forster, Grant and I
Forster’s memoir is simply an account of The Go-Betweens, the seminal Australian cult band he formed in the late ’70s with friend Grant McLennan up until the latter’s death at age 48 in 2006. And yet, The Go-Betweens were like no other band, and this book, brimming with complex emotions and eloquent, vibrant prose, is far from your average rock and roll memoir.

1 – Rob Sheffield, Dreaming The Beatles
Music journalist Sheffield put out his own great debut memoir about losing a spouse to an early death a decade ago—so good, in fact, that everything else he’s written since pales in comparison, until now. The world didn’t really need another book about The Beatles (Sheffield recognizes as much), but it did need this compulsively readable rethink of an outfit too often lazily taken for granted. By exploring how much the band remains part of the collective unconscious fifty years after their heyday, Sheffield conveys, with his usual warm, clever wit, how such totems of pop culture endure, even as the culture itself shifts and evolves.

My complete 2017 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read):

1 – Peter Heller, The Painter
2 – Grace Jones and Paul Morley, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs
3 – Jonathan Ames, The Extra Man
4 – David Nicholls, Us
5 – John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries
6 – Michael Chabon, Moonglow
7 – Kliph Nesteroff, The Comedians
8 – Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
9 – Chris Smith, The Daily Show: The Book
10 – Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show*
11 – David Bianculli, The Platinum Age of Television
12 – Caitlin Moran, Moranifesto
13 – George Saunders, Lincoln In The Bardo
14 – Jon Savage, 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded
15 – Don Breithaupt, Aja (33 1/3 series)
16 – Mark Harris, Pictures At A Revolution*
17 – Francine Prose, Mister Monkey
18 – Rob Sheffield, Dreaming The Beatles
19 – Sean L. Maloney, Modern Lovers (33 1/3 series)
20 – Jason Zinoman, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night
21 – Lauren Graham, Talking As Fast As I Can
22 – John Semley, This is a Book About The Kids In The Hall
23 – David Sedaris, Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002
24 – Karl Ove Knausgard, My Struggle, Book Four
25 – Geoff Dyer, Zona*
26 – Nathan Hill, The Nix
27 – Jeffrey Tambor, Are You Anybody?
28 – David Rakoff, Fraud*
29 – Jonathan Bernstein and Lori Majewski, Mad World
30 – Jeremiah Moss, Vanishing New York
31 – Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
32 – Derek Jarman, Smiling In Slow Motion
33 – Robert Forster, Grant and I
34 – Michael Ausiello, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies
35 – Norman Lear, Even This I Get To Remember
36 – Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions*
37 – Alice Munro, Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014
38 – Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible
39 – Robert Hofler, Party Animals*
40 – John Hodgman, Vacationland
41 – Amy Schumer, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
42 – Judd Apatow, Sick In The Head
43 – Peter Heller, Celine
44 – David Yaffe, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
45 – Gore Vidal, Lincoln
46 – Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
47 – Zadie Smith, Swing Time

2016 Booklist

My ten favorite books that I read this year, in chronological order of finishing them:


Matthew Zoller Seitz, Mad Men Carousel

One of the most meticulously crafted and complex TV series of all time warrants a similarly comprehensive episode guide; Seitz, who recapped the series for Vulture.com in its later seasons, provides exactly that. As befitting the show itself, it nearly reads like the proverbial Great American Novel. I am so looking forward to re-watching the show while concurrently reading this again (perhaps in 2018? 2019?).


Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

The problem with 500+ page novels is that almost always, they would greatly benefit from not exceeding that page count (see Hallberg’s City On Fire, which might’ve made my top ten had it been 300 pages shorter). At just over 800 pages, Yanagihara’s widely acclaimed second novel is the rare long book I could read forever; it’s also one of the more brutal narratives I’ve ever read, with a protagonist whom repeatedly suffers abuse from others and, most disconcertingly, at his own hand. But Yanagihara’s prose is so assured in its openness, honesty and lyricism that this is easily my favorite book of the year.


Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others

While not as sharp as her great last book Stone Arabia, Spiotta’s fourth novel wraps an ambitious, ingenuous, multi-decade spanning narrative in an almost impossibly succinct frame. It will appeal to art-film aesthetes (particularly Orson Welles buffs) as much as those fascinated by voyeurism, or the idea of trying on a false identity and seeing how far one can keep it up.


Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography

I’ve been waiting two years for this biography to come out in paperback so I could easily carry it with me on my commute everyday and lose myself in Henson’s extraordinary story. No one else apart from Charles Schulz was so influential in shaping my early childhood, particularly in the way pop culture informs how a child learns and comes to see the world. That Jones never obscures Henson’s all-too-human qualities provides essential depth to the book’s celebration of all his accomplishments.


Dave Holmes, Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs

Of the memoirs read this year, I’m not surprised that this one ended up one of my favorites. Former MTV-VJ Holmes has carved out a neat second act as an essayist/columnist in the past few years; in this book, his affable voice immediately draws you into his world, and you relate, even if you’re not a male, gay Gen-X-er who grew up closeted in the Midwest.


John Cleese, So, Anyway…

The other great memoir I read in 2016. Monty Python stalwart Cleese, as hilarious and self-deprecating as one would expect, tells his life story up until that troupe formed and changed television sketch comedy forever; fortunately, he has enough anecdotes and insights to sustain this sizable tome (hope he tackles the Python years in a sequel).


Jessi Klein, You’ll Grow Out of It

I suppose I’ll eventually read Amy Schumer’s essay collection, but I’m betting it won’t be as good as this one from the head writer on her Comedy Central show. Klein, like David Sedaris, is unflashy and fairly deadpan in her wit. Her conversational essays just seem to naturally unfold and are often riotously funny without straining for easy laffs, whether she’s describing something so lofty as attending the Academy Awards or commonplace as epidurals or internet porn.


Simon Reynolds, Shock and Awe

Years in the making, Reynolds’ epic study of 1970s glam rock could not have come out in a more timely manner, eight months after David Bowie’s death. However, for someone who has written great books about rave culture and post-punk/new wave, this could be his magnum opus, exploring every facet of this very particular music subgenre and somehow making it all sound equally interesting.


Emma Cline, The Girls

On the surface, this debut novel would seem to have a gimmick—it follows a 14-year-old girl who in 1969 joins a Charles Manson-like cult—but for all the obvious parallels it draws to real-life events, it feels like a compelling, original work. Cline focuses less on the lewd, sensational aspects lurking around the edges of this tale and more on her protagonist’s mindset with perceptiveness most impressive for a first novel. After finishing it, my first thought was that I would read anything this author will write.


Carolyn Parkhurst, Harmony

I’ve loved Parkhurst’s writing since The Dogs of Babel; after the slightly disappointing The Nobodies Album, she’s back in fine form on her fourth novel. From multiple points of view and shifts back and forth in time, she constructs an intriguing narrative about family, cult of personality, autism and what it means to really change a life—and what you both give up and gain in the process.

My complete 2016 Booklist, with titles in chronological order of when I finished reading them (starred entries are books I’ve re-read):

  1. Ben Watt, Patient
  2. Laline Paull, The Bees
  3. Matthew Zoller Seitz, Mad Men Carousel
  4. Jonathan Ames, I Pass Like Night
  5. Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling
  6. Michaelangelo Matos, The Underground is Massive
  7. Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
  8. Karen Russell, Swamplandia!
  9. Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others
  10. Andy Partridge, Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC
  11. Owen Gleiberman, Movie Freak
  12. Kathryn Reed Altman and Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, Altman
  13. Daniel Clowes, Patience
  14. Karl Ove Knausgard, My Struggle, Book Three: Boyhood
  15. Carrie Brownstein, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl
  16. Augusten Burroughs, Lust and Wonder
  17. Robert K. Elder (ed.), The Best Film You’ve Never Seen
  18. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead*
  19. Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography
  20. Daniel Clowes, Wilson
  21. Alan Sepinwall, The Revolution Was Televised
  22. Jonathan Ames, Wake Up, Sir!
  23. David Rakoff, The Uncollected David Rakoff
  24. Steven Hyden, Your Favorite Band is Killing Me
  25. Dave Holmes, Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs
  26. Rachel Kushner, The Flame Throwers
  27. Robert Forster, The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll
  28. Chuck Klosterman, What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About The Future As If It Were The Past
  29. Courtney J. Sullivan, Commencement
  30. David Mitchell, Slade House
  31. Caitlin Moran, Moranthology
  32. John Cleese, So, Anyway…
  33. Jessi Klein, You’ll Grow Out of It
  34. Frank Conniff, Twenty Five MST3K Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever
  35. Joel Kriofske, And Good Night To All The Beautiful Young Women
  36. Alan Sepinwall and Matthew Zoller Seitz, TV: The Book
  37. Patti Smith, M Train
  38. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Seinfeldia
  39. Garth Risk Hallberg, City On Fire
  40. Jennifer Saunders: Bonkers: My Life in Laughs
  41. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five*
  42. Richard Brautigan, Revenge of the Lawn
  43. Simon Reynolds, Shock and Awe
  44. Jen Trynin, Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be*
  45. Emma Cline, The Girls
  46. Jonathan Lethem, A Gambler’s Anatomy
  47. Maria Semple, Today Will Be Different
  48. Lisa Hanawalt, Hot Dog Taste Test
  49. Carolyn Parkhurst, Harmony
  50. Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
  51. David Sedaris, Holidays On Ice*
  52. John Gregory Dunne, The Studio

I also really enjoyed the compilation of Partridge interviews, Clowes’ latest graphic novel (nearly as good as Ghost World), Burroughs’ new memoir (easily his best since Dry), various-but-still-vital essays from the late, great Rakoff, Kushner’s enigmatic story about artists in 1970s New York, Smith’s peripatetic essays, Semple’s nearly-as-terrific follow-up to Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and finally, a memoir written by my cousin Joel about my great uncle Joe, a former FBI agent stricken with Alzheimer’s in his old age. I’m proud to see a Kriofske has published a book, for it gives me a little more hope that I can do the same one day.