Top Five…er, Six

I never do Top Five Six lists. This is due to a healthy dose of inherent laziness, poor tracking and a self-conscious feeling that I have no business judging someone’s work.

But hey, let’s do this anyway.

According to the book log I keep in my journal I read 47 books this year. This feels low to me. I feel like I should have read way more books than this. I know I had some huge ones in there (looking at you Collected Sherlock and The Beatles) but I also read a lot of poetry so I have no real excuse. Must have been all the comics books cutting into my reading time.

Anyway I’m including the entire list at the end of the post for the whole zero of you that might be interested.

The 47 broke down as follows: 9 Non-fiction, 26 Fiction, 11 Poetry and 1 play.

So Top Five in order of Absolutely Nothing:

1.Tune In: The Beatles


I wrote a long review of this on goodreads but let’s just say that much like The Beatles, Mark Lewisohn’s book is more than the sum of its parts. Great writing, astounding research (and this is coming from a librarian) and a love of the subject that jumps off the page and sings you a song. It’s going to be a long wait until the second volume comes out in 2020 (the third is due in 2028).

2. Life After Life


What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? The only word I can think to describe this book is sublime. Utterly sublime. Fans of Cloud Atlas will feel a kinship with Ms. Atkinson’s Ursula Todd.

3. In the Kingdom of Ice


In full disclosure I’m a polar exploration addict so I am probably just a wee bit biased. That said, the New York Times agrees with me. What isn’t there to love about a story of boat frozen for two years, then crushed and sunk, leaving all her men to brave a long harsh thousand mile walk out of the arctic to Siberia?

4. Confederacy of Dunces


What? I never said they needed to be written this year. So JKT’s book has eluded me for a long time only because, while I knew I would love it, I just hadn’t bothered to actually read it. In fact I was so sure I would love it that in mixed company I nodded along with everyone’s assessment of how good it is. Then I read it and proved myself right. Unfortunately no one talks about how sad it is, too. And sadness should never be underestimated.

5. The Conformist


One man’s desperate struggle to contort himself into societies’ idea of normalcy. Moravia casts a bright light into the darkest corners of not only the human mind and our obsessions but also into how those obsessions mold our political life.

6. (because whatever it’s my list) Cosmos


Easily one of the best books of my LIFE let alone this year, Carl’s beautiful journey through history, mankind and the ever-reaching ends of space is a classic for a reason. “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” – Carl Sagan

So real quick before I include the WHOLE list, the other really cool thing about this year is that I read a lot of work by people that I actually know – fellow small press/self-pubbed/writers and poets who I can actual promise exist in this world.

And because small presses and their authors don’t get enough love here they are:

The River Underneath the City – Scott Silsbe

Unacknowledged Legislations – Steve Henn

Good Hipster Man – Eric Cohen

Bullshit Rodeo – Misti Rainwater-Lites

The Lower Forty-Eight – Jason Baldinger

Starting with the Last Name Grochalski – John Grochalski

Crossroad of Stars and White Lighting – Larry Raymond Duncan

Yield to the Willow – Don Wentworth

Guernica Revisited – Richard Vargas

The Real Moment – Kevin Lee

You should really check these folks out. They’re good people and they’re crazy talented.

You know what else is weird – 6 of my favorite authors (or authors whose books I was really looking forward to) are not on the Top Six list – not Jumpta Lahiri, Wally Lamb, David Mitchell, Patrick Rothfuss, Herman Koch or Joshua Ferris.


And finally, as we wind down what was a spectacularly crappy 2014 (minus the publication of This Is Sarah by wonderful people at Bookfish who I love and adore) I want to wish you all a Merry Whatever and a Happy Something and be sure to tip one back for me this holiday season.

Bring on 2015, bitches.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,




King Henry IV – Shakespeare

The Shining – Stephen, King

The River Underneath The City – Scott Silsbe

Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon – David Sylvester

The Archived – Victoria Schwab

Unacknowledged Legislations – Steven Henn

It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

Susan Sontag: Complete Rolling Stone Interview – Jonathan Colt

Good Hipster Man – Eric Cohen

Bullshit Rodeo – Misti Rainwater-Lites

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

We are Water – Wally Lamb

Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tune In: The Beatles – Mark Lewisohn

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour – Joshua Ferris

After the Moment – Garrett Freyman Weir

Doctor Sleep – Stephen King

The Lower Forty-Eight – Jason Baldinger

The Snow Queen – Michael Cunningham

Summer House with Swimming Pool – Herman Koch

Starting with the Last Name Grochalski – John Grochalski

Switching/Yard – Jan Beatty

Crossroads of Stars and White Lighting – Larry Raymond Duncan

Cosmos – Carl Sagan

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Book Store – Robin Sloan

The Conformist – Alberto Moravia

Suffering, Suicide and Immortality – Arthur Schopenhauer

The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman

The Lowlands – Jumpta Lahiri

Yield to the Willow – Don Wentworth

J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist – Thomas Beller

Guernica Revisited – Richard Vargas

The Real Moment – Kevin Lee

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

In the Kingdom of Ice – Hampton Sides

The Right Madness on Skye – Richard Hugo

Some Kind of a Fairytale – Graham Joyce

The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer

There Stories – JD Salinger

Unmentionables: Poems – Beth Ann Fennelly

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss

Under the Skin – Michael Faber

By Ally Malinenko

I live in Brooklyn which is good except when it’s not which is horrid. I’ve been writing for awhile, and have some stuff published and some stuff not. I don’t like when people refer to pets as their children and I can’t resist a handful of cheez-its when offered. I have a burning desire to go to Antarctica, specifically to the South Pole so I can see where Robert Falcon Scott died. I like to read books. I like to write stories and poems. I even wrote some novels. You can read them.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s