Archive for the ‘Best Books’ Category

Poets of the English LanguagePoets of the English Language by W.H. Auden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read this collection through several times and find it entirely useful. Auden’s prefaces to each volume, providing historical, cultural and technical background, are by themselves worth the price of the anthology. Why this collection is out of print is beyond me.

View all my reviews


Best Zombie Book

Dead Sea, Brian Keene. Even the sharks are zombies. Word.

Saddest Murder Mystery

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for His Assassin, Hampton Sides. A document on the system of Hell.

Best Book of Stories

Everything That Rises Must Coverge, Flannery O’Connor. No surprise. O’Connor is indispensable.

Most Thought-Provoking Book of Poetry

The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan. Serious experiment in style and technique becomes play. You don’t read this book, you live in it.

Most Savage Biography

Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, James Gavin. Chet Baker was a monster. Gavin tells his story as carefully and neutrally as he can. Result: You love the book, you despise the subject.

Best Anthology of Poetry

Poets of the English Language (5 vols.), edited by W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson. Wonderfully intelligent selection of poems from Langland to Yeats. The prefaces to each volume alone are worth the cost of the books. If you want to know the English tradition of poetry, this is where to dig in.

Most Reassuring Book

Practical Outdoor Survival, Len McDougall. Turns out you can survive with a knife, a .22, some matches and a few other necessaries. Now you know what to hang on to when we are all reduced to serfdom by our corporate masters.

Baz Luhrmann is directing a new film version of Scott Fitzgerald‘s “perfect” novel, The Great Gatsby. The film will be released next summer and stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carroway. Click here to see a Daily Mail article on the filming that contains some terrific pictures of the actors in period dress. Fitzgerald’s writing in Gatsby, of course, is so beautiful that Hunter Thompson typed the text word-for-word just to get closer to the language. As have many others, including the Bat Terrier. You should certainly celebrate news of the film by reading Gatsby again. Click here for a free e-book.

Bat Terrier applauds Open Culture‘s smart list of essential non-fiction. (Click here for the list.)

Have you ever seen Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, undoubtedly one of the best books ever written, on ANY sort of “best of” book list? Me neither.  And certainly not on a list that also contains Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The White Album, Marcus Aurelius‘ Meditations, Walden,  and Hannah Arendt‘s amazing Eichmann in Jerusalem. And that’s just for starters.

What did they miss? Montaigne, maybe Walter Benjamin, depending on your tastes. But all in all, a really smart take on the “best books” list. Kudos.

Anton Chekhov‘s letters, translated and with an introduction by Constance Barnett, are available here in HTML format. For free.

You can also read more than 200 of Chekhov’s stories here. Again, for free.

Why read Chekhov? He’s the best.

Wanna know not only the Best Poetry Books of 2010, but also Best First Book, Best Second Book, Best Selected/Collected, Best Translation, Best First Poem in a Collection, Best Final Poem in a Collection, Best Long Poem, Best Opening Lines, Best Closing Lines, Best New Book By a Canonical Poet, Best Book of Thought/Criticism, Best Physical Artifact, Best Book Cover, and Best Anthology? Then you want to check out Coldfront’s mondo list mashup. Thorough and intelligent choices. See Coldfront » 2010 Lists.

Change or die: Canadian author Derek Beaulieu says the novel is either dying or on its way to reinvention. (Meanwhile, in 2008, the last year for which data is available, publishers in the United States published more than 47,000 fiction titles. Fiction is still the top-selling category in book publishing. See Bowker‘s statistics here. Bat Terrier assumes the vast bulk of these novels are “traditional” narratives and that the genre remains stubbornly un-reinvented.)

And… So you wanna be a critic? John Sutherland‘s top 10 books about books, from Aristotle’s Poetics to Henry Louis Gate’s The Signifying Monkey.

These are the best books Bat Terrier read this year. (Disclosure: no books by friends on this list.)


The Illuminations, Arthur Rimbaud, as translated by Donald Revell


Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories, James Thomas, ed.


Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac, Ellis Amburn



The Ax, Donald Westlake


These are the best books Bat Terrier read this year. (Disclosure: no books by friends on this list.)

Popular Music

Classical Music

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth  Century, Alex Ross


Woman reading

it is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there
William Carlos Williams

And, yeah, it’s still hard to get the news from poetry–so MANY bleeding poets, so many styles, departures, arguments, Cage Matches, grudges, minor explosions, effusions, scatterings, flatulences–but  old Doc Williams is still right. Here are some places where you can get the word on what’s newsworthy in the dangerous world of the rhapsodes:

Chamber Four’s best poetry 2010

No Tell Motel’s best poetry 2010

On the Seawall’s Lists of Recommended Poetry 2010

The Prague Post

Best-selling poetry books, 2010

Timothy Donnelly‘s favorite poets of 2010

Picks by the staff of Poetry magazine

Dean Rader’s picks for best poems of 2010 in the San Francisco Chronicle.