In 2016 I read several books. Here are the best:
Levels of the Game, John McPhee
This lit-journalism piece is one of the smoothest books I’ve read. McPhee transitions from the fast-paced plays of a famed tennis match between Clark Graebner and Arthur Ashe (yes the Arthur Ashe that award is named after) to intimate stories about the players’ upbringings and lives off the court. And it’s all with purpose — the plays on the court, McPhee points out, are all rooted in the personality and character of each player. Tennis is an intensely personal and stylistic sport, and McPhee is adept at pointing out just how much of Graebner’s exuberance and Ashe’s reservedness should be attributed to where they came from. Excellent, brief and informative read.
The Circle, Dave Eggers
Ever had a nightmare that Facebook, Amazon, Paypal, Google and Apple all combined and knew everything about everyone? Eggers’ dystopian novel set in the near-future imagines just that. But his novel stands above other similar stories that seek thrilling disaster because of its character development, sense of place and believability. Give this a read if you want to ponder the sins of our generation or to be hopeful that we’re not quite as far down the road as the folks working for the Circle.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
“You haven’t read Harry Potter?” is a question I get bi-weekly, if not weekly, so I finally put an end to that by reading the first installment of the series that made reading appealing to people my age, apparently. I anticipated greatness, and I got it. Rowling crafts a world, immediately likable and hateable characters and a plot that grips from page one. I’ve heard that this isn’t close to the best book in the series, so I look forward to discovering the rest of the masterpiece that the rest of people my age are already in love with.