Diana Butler Bass’s new book Grounded (HarperCollins) is at the top of my 2015 gift list. Beautifully written and spiritually enriching, it makes a proposal that resonates from the Paul Tillich shelf in the seminary library to the Discovery Channel on cable TV. For anyone who’s read or will read Grounded, two other gifts would be ideal. Both are apps.
Over the last year I polished off the last novels I hadn’t read by Penelope Fitzgerald and worked my way one bomb of perceptive wit at a time through Lorrie Moore’s stories (her latest collection is Bark: Stories, published by Knopf).
Jes Baker’s Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living (Seal Press), will be a handy book to have around in early January, when our culture’s annual rites of body shaming make big money for weight-loss companies.
A couple of years ago I ordered a book by Jen Hadfield on the strength of a vividly disgusting couplet I came across somewhere or other: “Under the broiler / turned sausages ejaculate.” (That’s turned as in forgotten and rotting—Hadfield’s idiom is Scottish, as are her eye and ear.) The book was strong, but Byssus (Picador), her new collection, is even stronger.
Two months ago my wife and I walked downtown to see Mr. Holmes, with Sir Ian McKellen playing an aging version of the science-conquers-superstition Sherlock Holmes. I found myself crying in the dark as McKellen’s trembling, frail Sherlock struggled in his final years to solve one final mystery: why a woman he almost loved took her own life.