The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinphoche (recommended by Alan Lightman). "... there is a great deal to appreciate here about the impermanence of earthly phenomena and the causes of mental suffering... also includes practical discussions on how to meditate."
Human Happiness: A Memoir, by Brian Fawcett (recommended by Stan Persky). "Fawcett's reflection on memory, relationships... happiness transform local matters into wise meditations on life and death."
Pinboy, by George Bowering (recommended by both Brian Fawcett and Martin Levin). This memoir was described as "readably entertaining, wise, and frequently fall-down funny... his most accessible book, and maybe his best."
Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (recommended by Kirchhoff and Clark). I loved Wolf Hall and have wanted to tackle this sequel for several months, but I'm a bit daunted by its thickness. Mantel doesn't coddle her readers, either, and makes no apologies about not being an "easy read."
Sabbath's Theatre, by Phillip Roth (recommended by Catherine Gildner). " Mickey Sabbath is an adult finger puppeteer in his sixties and a self-confessed 'whoremonger, seducer and sodomist'... Only Roth could make us feel at one with such a debauched character."
Recommended by Peter Stoddard, who read 145 novels this year as chair of the Man Booker Prize. These titles were noteworthy but didn't make the shortlist:
- Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway "... a London tale of mud, magic and a bid for global domination through the agency of golden bees."
- Mountains of the Moon, by J.J. Kay "... a debut of powerful, original prose about a woman piecing together her life with a new name after a prison sentence.
- This is Life, by Dan Rhodes "... the best light book of the 145, starring a baby called Herbert who is temporarily acquired in Paris through an accident of contemporary art."
Omens in the Year of the Ox, by Steven Price (recommended by poet Lorna Crozier). "This poet can write anything, from free verse to sonnets, from prose poems to the blues...People who ask about the future of poetry should read this book."
The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things, by Lorna Crozier. Because of its beautiful title.