A Year in Reading 2017.

Once again it’s time for the Year in Reading feature at The Millions, in which people write about books they’ve read and enjoyed during the previous year; my contribution is up, featuring my review of Yuri Slezkine’s The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution (see this post), as well as my other favorites of the year. And seriously, if you haven’t read Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, give it a try.


  1. Trond Engen says

    Thank you! This reminds me that I meant to put a couple of those on my wishlist when you first told about them. China Marches West and Paths in the Rainforests, both of which seem to treat an entire continent on a long timescale. I wish I could concentrate on detailed retellings of modern history, but since I can’t, I’m all for the wide scope.

  2. White Teeth? I find that choice, though I have yet to read your Millions piece — which I’ll do right after this comment — such an interesting choice that I couldn’t help but post this comment right away. I think Zadie Smith is a fantastic talent, and I think she may have been lead astray — during the fifteen years after the the publication of White Teeth — because of the reviews to which (ideally) she never should have paid much attention, reviews by assholes such as James Wood. She’s a fantastic essayists, a perspicacious critic who uses her insights to edify via cleverly entertaining criticism, and a moving and masterful essayist; but her novels, perhaps because her own critical guide seems to have been Wood, chiefly, rather than Edward Mendelsohn or (would that it could’ve been so!) Hugh Kenner or one of his excellent coevals. I haven’t read White Teeth — only her books written after Wood had and his disciples (along with all the other critics they influenced) perniciously chastened her — so I’m now highly interested to read a books of hers written before that influence took its effect on the ones to come, which (though I never stopped rooting for her) simply weren’t as good as the popular press made them out to be. But this book, well, I think I’ve made my point. Still, to reiterate, rather than waiting for her to exorcise all the influence Wood and the rest had on her — rather than waiting for to her write a novel all her own — I’m now my freshly interested in White Teeth.

    Thanks, LH!

  3. Yeah, I haven’t read a later novel yet that lives up to the first, but I’m going to keep trying!

  4. Apologies for the typos. Should be “a fantastic critic . . . a perspicacious reader,” not a fantastic essayists, which I later say that she is. I also spelled Edward Mendelson wrong. I think I caught a few others, which now elude me in my rush. I’m not sure Hattic powers are called for but, well, you know me!

    A ginormous Happy Holidays to all LH readers, especially those who’ve given me nothing be excellent influence, i.e., all those regulars with whom I’ve exchanged some back and forths.

  5. A ginormous Happy Holidays to all LH readers, especially those who’ve given me nothing be excellent influence, i.e., all those regulars with whom I’ve exchanged some back and forths.

    Thank you, and right back atcha. Sometimes I think that this blog is part of the Lórien of the Internet, where only those people find it perilous who brought their peril with them, as Master Samwise said. For everyone else who remains here even for a time, it is a healing experience of impartial but not impersonal discourse.

  6. Indeed, indeed! Also a place where you can say sincerely, far more than anywhere I’ve been at least: I couldn’t have put it better myself 😉 What an apt use of Party Business with which to make your own party point. I’m just glad you sneaked it in the back way, if you will; he who turned eleventy-one that day would have been far more affronted by your using his name day celebration for another cause, no matter how celebratory itself, than anything his kinsmen after the good silver would have dared to even consider.

  7. I do hate how emoticons turn into emojis without my consent. Am I too young to start shouting, “Get off my lawn!”?

  8. Oh, I detest that too.

  9. Trond Engen says

    I especially hate it when they weren’t intended as emoticons in the first place, like when I put a link within parantheses in Lync, I mean Skype for Business.

    And happy whichever holidays lie afore from me too,

  10. I don’t mind it much, even if it does jump out in the otherwise imageless surroundings (bar the top bar). It adds a little color to the otherwise bald (but convincing) narrative. One day our Hat will post something with an <img> tag in it, and we will all find ourselves in post-liberation Lud-in-the-Mist, with the Moon of Gomrath shining high in the sky.

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