Best Books of 2006
The problem with how-to books for writers is that the time reading them is better spent writing, unless you have in your lucky hands Francine Prose's lucid essay collection, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books (HarperCollins). Prose savors the alchemy of words on the page and shares examples of work that has endeared readers and made latent writers swoon. Those who bemoan the demise of books will find encouragement in Prose's wisdom.
Other favorites of the year include two graphic novels, Chicken With Plums (Pantheon) by Marjane Satrapi and Jessica Abel's La Perdida (Pantheon). While Satrapi's book is a love story set in 1950s Iran and Abel's follows a culturally alienated Mexican-American traveling in Mexico, both bubble with a cultural richness that is foreign yet emotionally familiar, steeped in history yet intensely personal.