Nine years ago today, I started my first day at DGLM. Every person who worked here on my first day (Jane Dystel & Miriam Goderich, naturally, but also Stacey Glick, Michael Bourret, and Jim McCarthy) is working here still. I’m lucky to be part of an agency that’s grown and changed and evolved so much in my nearly a decade here. Publishing isn’t an easy business, agenting maybe even less so than working for a big corporation where income isn’t commission based, so I’m lucky that Team DGLM of early 2005 is still the core of Team DGLM of early 2014. If you’re interested in how I feel about being here for nine years—and clearly you are, because the inner workings of my mind are oh so fascinating—the answer is: pretty similar to how I felt about being here for seven.
Still I wanted to mark the occasion somehow on the blog. I mean, with my DGLMiversary falling on my blog day, it’s just too convenient not to. Fortunately, through the magic of Twitter (and the help of @MichRichter1, @HopeDellon, and @PicadorUSA), I found inspiration in this Atlantic round-up of answers as to who is the greatest fictional character of all time. I was thinking that I can’t imagine answering that, as such questions always paralyze me. Greatest? Of all time? That’s too many to choose from! I can’t decide what to eat if a menu has more than 15 options, so how could I possible do that?? But I think what I can do is tell you my favorite 9 new non-DGLM books of the last 9 years. Obviously all the DGLM books are equally perfect and superior to all other books, so you’d be here all day if I didn’t exclude them. So without further ado:
- Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love is nothing short of exquisite. I loved it so much more than I ever thought was possible. And despite years of people telling me to check it out, which normally makes something basically unlovable to my contrary soul, it’s one of few books I really thought lived up to the hype.
- Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me is a middle grade novel that is absolutely spot-on in its understanding of its characters and its audience. There aren’t too many novels I read that I’m confident will stand the test of time, but if there’s any justice in this world, this one will. It made me want to re-read my favorite books from childhood, so I could linger in that feeling a little longer.
- In as much as books can really be for a person, I didn’t think that Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One would be for me. It’s so involved in the minutiae of its deeply nostalgic world, and my knowledge of videogames and geek culture doesn’t run nearly deep enough for me to love the novel on that level. And yet it’s a captivating story, and one which my book club loved more than virtually anything else we’ve read, despite having no knowledge of nearly any of the references. A real testament to the fact that some of the best books are the ones that anyone can love.
- Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang is a story of family dysfunction that’s moving and delightful and hilarious and strange. It has tons of heart and is a lot of fun, which is an impressive feat given that it could easily have gotten bogged down in theories of art and morality. Wilson has a beautifully light touch.
- The World Without Us by Alan Weisman is precisely the kind of interdisciplinary narrative nonfiction that I really adore. It’s a fascinating subject compellingly explored.
- Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette is every wonderful thing every person you know whose read it said it was. It’s funny and charming and touching and original—and I can’t wait to see what Semple does next.
- What can I say about Emma Donohue’s Room that hasn’t already been said? It’s narrated from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack, whose unusual circumstances color how he sees the world in ways I would call unimaginable if Donohue hadn’t somehow managed to imagine them down to the most intricate details. It’s a difficult premise in more ways than one, but Donohue explores it with enviable skill.
- Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End is compelling and accessible and beautifully written and ambitious and all around extraordinary. I was confident that the structure was going to annoy me fairly quickly, but the perfection of the voice carried me through to the last page, where I was truly sad to put it down.
- Colum McCann blew me away with Let the Great World Spin. I think this must be my absolute favorite book of the last decade. I was already a fan of McCann, who I’d first come across when reading his Everything in This Country Must in college, so I had high hopes for this novel. But I didn’t realize when I first began reading that I would wind up loving this book so much that it would become my favorite of his novels—and among my favorite of anyone’s.
Honorable mention to Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances, Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, and Patti Smith’s Just Kids, which I was definitely going to include before I realized that I already had 9.
So…what am I forgetting? Which books am I going to hate myself for leaving off the list the second you mention them?