Cue the fireworks for our one-hundredth review. Only the grandest literary achievements deserve to be mentioned in this space. Here are the top 10 books I’ve reviewed in the last few years, in order of brilliance. Feel free to quibble.
STORY OF A SECRET STATE (Jan Karski): The translation from Polish isn’t great, but this is one of the most harrowing yet instructive true stories I’ve ever read.
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (J.D. Salinger): Two hallowed Christmas traditions: watch BAD SANTA and read Holden Caulfield.
THE NICK ADAMS STORIES (Ernest Hemingway): Papa. Maybe the best short story writer ever.
THE ROAD (Cormac McCarthy): The most honest post-apocalyptic novel—also maybe ever.
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (Edward Albee): Scorching and hilarious. Not one word is out of place.
THE PAINTED BIRD (Jerzy Kosinski): A viscerally shocking book with an important message.
DARKNESS AT NOON (Arthur Koestler): A novel that reminds you that politics are the most personal thing in the world.
PUSH (Sapphire): Searing social commentary and hope and tragedy and poetry all perfectly balanced.
ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14 (Blaine Harden): An insightful, memorable book about the insanity of North Korea.
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS (Khaled Hosseini): Not as well received as THE KITE RUNNER, but a better book.
HANNIBAL (Thomas Harris): Easily the worst book I’ve ever read cover to cover in my entire life. I feel violated just thinking about it.