My 10 best books of the year list (yes, actually 11 again
because I had to mention both Joe Sacco books) isn’t limited to titles that were published in 2002, but to books that I finally picked up and read during the year. They’re listed in the order I read them.
, by Jonathan Franzen. Franzen may be obnoxious, but the book is a wonderful, stimulating, informative read, with—gasp—characters that all think, speak, and act differently.
Everything Is Illuminated
, by Jonathan Safran Foer. Yes it’s flawed and deeply uneven, but when it works, it’s brilliant, and when it’s funny, it’s hilarious.
The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary
, by Beth J. Harpaz. A gritty, behind-the-scenes look at the process of covering an election campaign, specifically covering it with a “how, why, what, when, where” Associated Press approach, all the while juggling parental duties and ethical dilemmas.
/Safe Area Gorazde
, by Joe Sacco. Not so much graphic novels as graphic reportage. The drawings are excellent, but the reportorial skills are also superior; a brilliant combination. Important books on important subjects that are a delight to spend time with.
Friends, Voters, Countrymen
, by Boris Johnson. I feel guilty about this one, but Johnson’s story of his adventures and misadventures on the campaign trail is amusing and illuminating. (For U.S. readers: Johnson is a floppy-haired Tory bumbler; a very successful journalist—he writes regular columns for the Telegraph
, still edits the Spectator
, and is always on television; and he’s now a Conservative Member of Parliament.)
, by Patrick Gale. I think I’ve read all Gale’s books, and although I initially resented the move away from the light, funny tone of his early work, I’m now glad of the complex—but not excessively complicated—stories and the masterful story-telling.
24 Hour Party People: What the Sleeve Notes Never Tell You
, by Tony Wilson. The novelization of a fact-based movie, written by the film’s main character. Wilson may be a wanker, certainly he seems to want us to think that, but he’s an original, intensively creative thinker with amazing instincts. It’s scary to think how the last 25 years would’ve been different without him.
, by Ann Patchett. One of those books you want to take the day off work to finish. Subtle, clever, and thought-provoking. Although it’s clearly inspired by the Japanese Embassy siege in Peru several years ago, this book came to mind during the Moscow Nord-Ost
hostage crisis this October.
, by Irvine Welsh. Another author whose shopping list I’d read. Brilliant, guilt-inducing, potty-mouthed.
Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
, by David Remnick. It’s hard to even imagine a superior work of nonfiction. An erudite, stylish page-turner.