Top Ten Treehouse Books 2022
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
The big news here is the treehouse is being taken over by Nursery Lane Studios, which is being slowly built behind it. When the new green shed opens, Janette will have a place for her art workshops and I will have a piano studio. But there will always be a treehouse, which means there will always be a top ten list of treehouse books. Here, just in time for Christmas, are the ten best books of the past year.
First, the books I read so you don't have to. There are two this year, Simon Winchester's Land and Da Silva's The Cellist. The first is a collection of essays loosely built around the idea that owning land is bad; the second is a work of Zionist pornography in which the main character kills her would-be assassin with a stiletto heel. Don't bother reading either of them.
Here, in no particular order, are the best books I read this year. The last two are both good books and bad books, but I had to make a judgment call and decided they were both worth reading. First, and most obviously, the posthumous thriller by the man on the top of his game:
Second, the latest masterpiece from the writer who keeps on giving:
Third, and probably my favorite read this year, Jeremy Denk's wicked takedown of all his piano teachers, with a superb discography:
Fourth and fifth, two collections of peculiar insights into our world that turn everything you thought you knew upside down. Reading them is an astringent balm for the soul.
Sixth and seventh, two books of survival, one written after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975, and one written after a polar winter in 1938. That both were written by women is no accident - men, as my students at the Fulbright University of Vietnam solemnly informed me, are wimps.
In eighth place, a book I really should have read long ago. Teetering on parody, it breaks the conventions that it sets. In that way, it's as good as Ulysses, another vampire book.
And then there are two books which are both good and bad. The first is possibly the most boring book ever written. It takes place in an English beach town during September, and is called The Fortnight in September. Absolutely nothing happens. When it was first published in 1931 it outsold Dashiell Hammett. Somehow it's so boring that it becomes good, a meditation on boringness like David Foster Wallace's The Pale King. Recommended for long train journeys and paint-drying competitions.
Finally, there is a book that begins so badly it should really have been banned from appearing on any top ten list. The connections between life and literature are so perfunctory, the female characters so flat, that you wonder if this is really the same author who masterfully revealed Henry James and wrote so movingly about Eilis Lacey and the Virgin Mary. But then it gets good, as Thomas Mann sees everything that is German turn to ashes. And finally, when Buxtehude gives Bach the gift of beauty, in a story told by Thomas Mann's Brazilian mother, it becomes transcendent.