Based on Amazon purchases made through links on this website, the following are the "picks" of Conversational Reading’s readers for 2008:
By a large margin, The Invention of Morel was the most popular purchase among readers of this blog. Obviously, my sincere praise of this book helped move it along, but I’m convinced that not nearly as many copies would have been purchased if this wasn’t a great book, and if Borges wasn’t Bioy’s literary collaborator. A great read, and if you haven’t had a chance to yet, definitely pick it up.
Not really a surprise, but something of an unusual pick is experimental British writer B.S. Johnson’s novel-in-a-box, The Unfortunates. Clearly, readers were drawn to this one for the atypical presentation (loose signatures collected in a box), although Johnson’s status as one of Britain’s most notable experimental authors of the late 20th century certainly didn’t hurt. For all you Johnson fans looking for more, be sure to check out Jonathan Coe’s excellent biography, Like a Fiery Elephant.
2666. For quite obvious reasons.
There’s a bit of a tie for fourth place with Senselessness, Television, and The Siege of Krishnapur, all excellent books. It’s a little interesting to see Television so high up, as it was published a couple years back and I’ve been talking more about two of Toussaint’s other books this year: Monsieur (re-issued this year) and Camera (published in English this year). But I won’t argue with your choice: I like them all, but I would put Television on top.
A number of books tied for fifth place:
- A Rhetoric of Irony: obviously my Wayne Booth boosterism is having some effect.
- By Night in Chile: for similar reasons as 2666.
- Fiction and the Figures of Life: I don’t think I mentioned it once this year, but Gass’s first collection of criticism is definitely worth owning.
- Rock Crystal:the Sebald connection was the driving force here.
- With Borges: who wouldn’t want to know about Borges from one of the young people who read to him in his blindness?
And here are the rest that made a notable impression, saleswise:
- Blood Meridian: McCarthy’s best, if you can stand the gore
- Doctor Faustus: please! More people read Thomas Mann!
- Inner Workings: Coetzee lit crit
- Monsieur: already discussed
- Netherland: funny to see that some readers overcame my studied indifference to this one
- On Photography: vintage Sontag
- Seven Types of Ambiguity: new Criticism as its lushest
- Stranger Shores: more Coetzee crit
- The Book of Chameleons: when’s the last time an Angolan novel made such a big splash?
- The Rhetoric of Fiction: more Booth-erism!