Books That I Read This Year

Many people have been asking me to recommend books for them to read. I am posting on my blog all the books that I read (many not for the first time) during the past year. Since 77% of the books is fiction, readers of preponderantly non-fiction books may be somewhat disappointed with this list.      

The Sea ——      John Banville

Heat and Dust—–Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Disgrace———-   J. M. Coetzee

The Ghost Road—–Pat Barker

Team of Rivals——Doris Kearns Goodwin

Cheeseland———- Randy Richardson

The Magic Barrel—-Bernard Malamud

Idiots First————–Bernard Malamud

Pictures of Fidelman—Bernard Malamud

Sons and Lovers——–D. H. Lawrence

Too Dark To Sleep—–Diane Gallagher

The Man with the Golden Arm—Nelson Algren

Never Come Morning —Nelson Algren

The Founding Mothers—-Cokie Roberts

Knock on any Door—-Willard Motley

Nelson Algren————Bettina Drew

Harvest  ——————Jim Crace

The Last Carousel——-Nelson Algren

Sweet Tooth————-Ian McEwan

Joseph Anton——-— Salman Rushdie

The Testament of Mary—Colm Toibin

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia –Mohsin Hamid

Chicago: City on the Make————Nelson Algren

Saints and Sinners———————- Edna O’Brien

Saul Bellow’s Heart——————— Greg Bellow

Burr—————————————-   Gore Vidal

Ghana Must Go————————-   Taiye Selasi

TransAtlantic—————————-   Colum McCann  

The Third Coast—————————- Thomas Dyja

Havana Lost———————————Libby Fischer Hellmann

Albany Park———————————-Myles Golde

The Reluctant Fundamentalist———–Mohsin Hamid

Henderson the Rain King—————— Saul Bellow

Life After Life——————————-  Kate Atkinson

We Need New Names——————–  NoViolet Balawayo

A Tale for the Time Being—————-  Ruth Ozeki

Five Star Billionaire————————- Tash Aw

The Six Granddaughters of Cecil Slaughter—Susan Hahn

Cold Snap—————————————-Cynthia Morrison Phoel

Swastika Nation——————————–Arnie Bernstein

Boss——————————————— Mike Royko

Royko——————————————-Richard Ciccone

The Middlesteins—————————-Jami Attenberg

1001 Afternoons in Chicago—————Ben Hecht

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- -Junot Diaz

The Lowland———————————- Jhumpha Lahiri

The Patagonian Hare————————-Claude Lanzmann

The Luminaries———————————Eleanor Catton

Goodbye to All That—————————Robert Graves

Once We Were Brothers——————–  Ronald Balson

The English Girl——————————-  Daniel Silva

Mandrakes from the Holy Land——– Aharon Megged

The Cliff-Dwellers————————-     Henry Blake Fuller 



Lack of Diversity among Man Booker Prize 2014 Judges

The six judges for the Man Booker Prize 2014 newly internationalized competition are: AC Grayling (Chair), Jonathan Bate, Sarah Churchwell, Dr. Daniel Glaser, Dr. Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner. Six white folks; no person of color. Four British males and two American-born women expatriates living in the UK. I suppose the two American-born ladies are the Man Booker Committee nod to diversity on this panel. I think this lack of ethnic and cultural diversity among the judges truly mars the 2014 selection process.

Author Ronald Balson at Max and Benny’s on January 13

Ronald Balson, the author of the novel “Once We Were Brothers,” is the next featured speaker at the Max and Benny’s Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series on Monday evening, January 13 at 7:00 pm. Max and Benny’s is located at 461 Waukegan Road in Northbrook. This amazing novel’s narrative interweaves between contemporary Chicago and Holocaust-era Poland. It’a a remarkable tale of one man’s courage and perseverance, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. I am the organizer of this event, so email me at or comment on the blog if you are planning to attend.