The Dilemma of What to Read Next

By Carole Reedy

…a book can reach out and embrace you like an arm and make you walk away from everything you thought you understood. Suzanne, from Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement

Readers are always looking forward. What will we read next? The latest bestseller, the book recommended by a friend, a classic we haven’t read yet that we feel we must, a book we want to re-read, the Pulitzer Prize winner, the latest by our favorite author, the biography of someone who just died, a travel guide, or essays about places we may visit in the year?

Among the plethora of new 2016 books, I’ve chosen just a few to add to your list (as if you need more!). The selections are personal, having nothing to do with quality, number of pages, favorable or unfavorable reviews, or any other recommendations. They are simply books that interest me, many by favorite authors I think may pique your curiosity. Happy reading!

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

It appears that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge has yet another success. Strout’s latest has received praise from Publishers Weekly, which called it a “masterly novel.” From Kirkus the author receives a starred review, the crème de la crème in the publishing world. And the New York Times Book Review gifted Strout with her first front-page review.

Keeping an Eye Open by Julian Barnes

Since 1989 when he published The History of the
World in 101⁄2 Chapters, Barnes has been writing 
essays on art, mostly French art. His latest book
is a compilation of essays and accompanying
 color photos about the art of Degas, Manet,
Vuillard, Braque, and Cezanne, among others.
 Also to be published in 2016 is Barnes’ new novel
 The Noise of Time, his first since winning the Man
Booker Prize in 2011. Just 100 copies were 
published for the first edition, signed by the author. The book is a glimpse at the life of Dmitri Shostakovich under Joseph Stalin’s reign, and it ponders the artist’s place in a dictatorship.

Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante

Readers of Ferrante’s blockbuster series of four novels about the lives of two friends in Naples, Italy, may choose to delve into the mind of this most reclusive of authors, who has yet to reveal her true identity and shuns the press. Her latest book, with a publication date of April 19, is a series of essays about the responsibilities of writing and publishing, Italian politics, and her desire to remain in the background of her novels and success.

Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo

Russo continues the saga of Donald “Sully” Sullivan in this follow-up to Nobody’s Fool. Russo fans will look forward to the May publication date.

My Struggle, Book Five by Karl Ove Knausgård

Books one through four of Knausgård’s autobiography are bestsellers throughout the
world and made the Norwegian (who now lives in
Sweden) a household name. One in ten people in 
Norway are reading these books, which make up
his life. The series is being translated into English
 one book at a time. Knausgård’s autobiography has won countless international literary awards and been translated into 15 languages.

Zero K by Don DeLillo

In the November 2015 issue of The Eye, Don DeLillo is the subject of the book column’s lead story on the year’s book prizes. His success? The National Book Award Lifetime Achievement Award. “There will be no better way to understand life in the late 20th century and early 21st century than reading the books of Don DeLillo,” said Jennifer Egan in her introduction for the honor. Reason enough to add it to my list.

Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías

If you read this column regularly you know that 
Javier Marías is one of my favorite modern 
authors, along with Philip Roth and Joyce Carol
 Oates. As usual, Marías gives this book a title
 based on a Shakespeare quote. “I must be cruel
 only to be kind; Thus bad begins, and worse
remains behind.” Those of you who enjoyed his
 The Infatuations, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on 
Me, and A Heart So White will not be disappointed
 with this latest by the Spanish master. The Spanish edition Así empieza lo malo has been in circulation for more than a year.

Secondhand Time: An Oral History on the Fall of the Soviet Union by Svetlana Alexievich

The works of this 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature
 winner previously hadn’t been published much in English, so many of us are eagerly awaiting her selections written in the journalism/documentary style. This, her latest to
be published in English, is due out in May. I have
 also seen it listed as The Last of the Soviets. The
 book is an oral history of men and women who
don’t normally get the spotlight and the speculation of what the fall of the Soviet Union and communism will mean to the culture of the country.

In the Café of the Last Youth and Young One, both by Patrick Modiano

Here are two novels freshly published in English
 by the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, reputed to be two of his best.