Anticipated Books of 2010: The Last List

Memorious Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Morgan Frank wraps up the countdown to 2010:

For our final day of our countdown to the books of 2010, I’d like to propose that what we all read next year is The Book. Not the mere content of the book, not simply the words scrolling on your iphone or blackberry or laptop or desktop, or staring milkily at you from one of the competing and fallible e-book readers currently flexing their muscles in the news and in chain bookstore displays. But the good old fashioned object that you can pull from the shelf where your grandmother left it, that you can walk out of a library with as a child or adult, that you can discover while browsing the shelves of your local bookstore, that a writer you admire can sign, that you can lend to a friend, and that you can use to build a library that is an album of your reading habits and an always available resource that you and your friends and family can make use of at anytime.

My last two weeks of 2009 have included the pleasures of reading Dan Chaon’s You Remind Me of Me, borrowed from my friend Ted’s bookshelf; Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, discovered on a bookshelf where I’m house sitting; Marina  Lewycka’s  A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, a holiday gift sent to me from Nottingham by my friend Kris; and two books recently purchased from two wonderful independent bookstores in Cambridge, Harvard Bookstore and Porter Square Books: What Will the World Look Like When the All the Water Leaves Us by Memorious assistant editor Laura van den Berg and Lucy by Jean Valentine. I even squeezed in some Christmas morning thumbing through the 2005 The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, which my father had wrapped for me under the tree, and I enjoyed some late night browsing through my father’s floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, from which I took home two poetry collections.

In other words, as a reader, I need fully stocked libraries and bookstores, I need the eclectic collections of my friends,  and I need this object that follows me from the kitchen table to my favorite reading chair to my bed, that accompanies me on the subway as I strain to read the titles on the books of the passengers around me. I need my thirty boxes of books (and growing), which when unpacked make each apartment home. These are my companions wherever I go; I am surrounded by not only the stories and poems themselves, but the writers whose names and kind notes are scribbled in the front of so many of my books. Books have always been my most faithful companions, and I’m grateful for those who publish them. So today’s list consists of five small presses to look to for more good books in 2010, because they’ve given me such pleasure in previous years:

Alice James Books

Dzanc Books

Graywolf Press

Milkweed

Sarabande Books

As an editor of an online literary magazine that has reached its six-year mark, I recognize and embrace the importance of online publishing. But I have never seen it as a replacement for the print journal or for the book, and so I hereby dedicate 2010 to the book. To all of us who write them, publish them, buy them, and love them, Happy New Year!

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