The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 will appeal to anyone with a love, or even a fondness, for the written word. Clifton, a national treasure and former poet laureate of Maryland, wrote about everyday life with an economy of words and an abundance of spirit. Her humanity pulses on every page. But before you dive into these engrossing poems, be sure to read Toni Morrison’s insightful foreward.
My favorite biography of the year was D.T. Max’s take on David Foster Wallace’s brilliant and troubled life. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story is a straightforward and moving account of the now-iconic writer’s rise through the ranks of contemporary literature and academia, while struggling with the mental illness that led him to take his life. Along the way, Max notes how John Barth played a key role in Wallace’s development as a writer.
The best reading experience I had was getting completely absorbed in graphic novelist Chris Ware’s Building Stories. Housed in a gameboard-like box, it uses hardbound books, newspaper broadsheets, booklets, and even a folded gameboard to tell stories that, told in this manner, set the magic of discovery against the mundane aspects of everyday life. It’s an elaborate art project disguised as a book—the ultimate, anti-ebook.
And I enjoyed reading Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue, but the audiobook is even better. Read by The Wire’s Clarke Peters, it takes awhile to get going, but Peters brings the characters to life. Let’s hope he does more audiobooks in the future.