TBR: Caveat Lector

I'm way overdue on a To Be Read post. This is a list of books I haven't read (completely), therefore I can't guarantee their brilliance, unputdownability (is that a word?), or hilarity. Like most other readers, my reading time is precious. I rely heavily on reviews, podcasts, recommendations, and my own (quirky but hopefully good) taste to determine new books to read (classics are strewn in between and usually chosen by subject matter and/or reputation). So far, my sources have proven effective. Very rarely do I give up on a book due to boredom or disgust, but that could just be my annoying anal retentiveness kicking in. However, whenever I recommend a book, I often do so with a qualifier: If you're looking for a challenge try..., This was a great book if you can get past the gruesome depictions of ..., If you want a book to be your friend, this one is not for you. So with all this jibber-jabber in mind, here are the latest books which I venture to include on my own TBR list along with a short description, and explanation of my attraction to them, for each
Caveat Lector

  • The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner: Besides the provocative title, a signature of anything "Leyner", I heard an interview with the recently resurfaced author on the NYT Book Review podcast hosted by Sam Tannenhaus which piqued my interest. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, a postmodern romp, tells the tale of an unemployed butcher and the host of misfit gods who steer him through the tribulations of his life.

  • Imagine by Jonah Lehrer: Lehrer has been called Gladwellian by at least one reviewer. In fact Malcolm Gladwell himself has said of Lehrer: "... he knows more about science than a lot of scientists and more about writing than a lot of writers." The author of such pop science titles as,  Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer tackles creativity in his latest work. I heard an interview with this best-selling writer on, once again, The NYT Book Review podcast, and was hooked.

  • In One Person: A Novel by John Irving: John Irving, the celebrated author of modern classics like The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules, has been a perennial favorite of mine. Having read his entire catalogue, I never hesitate to add his subsequent work to my TBR list. From what I've seen, In One Person, is a socio-political commentary on sexual identity in the late twentieth century. Narrated by Billy, a self described sexual suspect and  bisexual, Irving's latest work has been hailed already as his best novel since Garp.

  • The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler: Cited as one of the best books of the month by Amazon.com, The Beginner's Goodbye is an affecting study of loss, acceptance and recovery by one of our best chronicler's of the dynamics of familial relationships. I've loved Anne Tyler's books since a friend bought me a copy of The Clock Winder way back when. I confess I haven't read her much lately, but seeing this new title on Amazon reawakened my interest.

  • Stay Close by Harlan Coben: When it comes to fast-paced thrillers, Harlen Coben is one of the best of a crowded pack. My wife turned me on to one of his standalone crime fests a while back and I've been addicted ever since. Coben seems to improve with each book, culminating in the last one, Caught which I reviewed here in July of 2010. He is another author I blindly add to the TBR as soon as I hear the news of a new release. In Stay Close Three disparate people's lives converge as long buried secrets are disinterred.

  • Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates: More prolific than any other writer I know, JCO, has released yet another substantial novel, this one starring the first female president of an Ivy League institution. Oates is truly a phenomenon of  American Arts and Letters. She must turn out between two and three novels, short story anthologies, volumes of poetry or works of non-fiction (essays, memoirs, criticism...) every year. She also finds the time to teach. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University. One of my favorites of her copious body of work is Blonde, a fictional study of the troubled life of Marilyn Monroe.

  • Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru: At this writing, I'm a little over half-way through this cosmic and off-beat tale featuring the Mojave Desert, where like in a Balzac quote, there is everything and nothing. I'm glad I listened to my heart and began reading this newest Kunzru novel, since I didn't so much care for his last one, My Revolutions. Having read a glowing review in the NYT, I just couldn't pass this one up, The structure is unconventional and the story, involving saucer-cults and timeless beings is daring; right up my old tractor beam. I will review said book in these pages after devouring.