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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Susan Hubbard


Of the hundreds of books I consumed during the last year, here, in no order whatsoever, are a few that I heartily recommend:

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” by Amy Sedaris. Amy Sedaris is my idea of the perfect hostess, in all respects. She makes smack snacks for rabbits and cupcakes for the rest of us, and her advice on throwing parties sustains my longing to become a hermit.

2)Dreams From My Father” by
Barak Obama. He's a savvy politician, and he writes like a dream. Reading this book prompted me to make scores of phone calls to “undecided” Florida households, most of which had no one at home (literally or figuratively).

3)In the Woods” by
Tana French. A triumph of style over plot, although the plot is fine, too. A dark Irish mystery that begs to be read aloud. I've recommended it to several friends, and not one didn't love it.

4)Exit Music” by
Ian Rankin. If you haven't yet met John Rebus, Rankin's antihero cop, don't read this one; pick up Knots and Crosses, the first book in the Rebus series. All of the books explore Edinburgh's dark side, as vividly seedy as it was depicted in Trainspotting.

5)Corned Beef and Caviar” by Marjorie Hillis. This was written in 1937, but its advice regarding how to live well on next to nothing is, sadly, just as timely in 2008-09. Clear tomato bouillon and finger rolls, here we come!

6)Consider the Oyster” by
MFK Fisher. Yes, I was a bit obsessed with books about food in 2008. Fisher's description of the pleasures of oysters convinces me to keep eating them, even though I feel experience equal measures of guilt and elation afterward.

7)The Dark Fantastic” by Margaret Echard. This little out-of-print gem was discovered in a used bookstore by my daughter, Clare. A compelling tale of the supernatural, rooted in reality.

8)How to Be a Villain” by
Neil Zawacki. A former graduate student of mine gave me this nonfiction guide to being evil. I can't imagine what motivated the gift, unless it was concern to help me survive the academic institution by which I'm employed.

9)The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test” by
Tom Wolfe. Okay, I've read it six times now, but it's always fun to reacquaint oneself with Wolfe's prose style and Kesey's Pranksters. Yesssssss.

10)The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by
Sogyal Rinpoche. I read this at least once a year, in order to practice its lessons in living and dying.


I'm on sabbatical from my university job this year, so I'm spending more time doing book-signings, talking with book clubs, and speaking at schools and conferences. Several high schools have adopted “The Society of S” for classes and reading groups, and I've been having a great time meeting students. I'm also spending more time outdoors, away from the computer, hiking and running and kayaking, and dreaming about my next writing project.


Susan Hubbard is the author of “The Society of S” (
Simon & Schuster, 2007) and “The Year of Disappearances” (Simon & Schuster, 2008). The UK edition of “The Society of S” was released December 1, 2008 and the paperback of “The Year of Disappearances” will be out in the US in Spring 2009. Susan is also an award-winning Professor of English at the University of Central Florida. For more information, please visit the author’s Official Website.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index



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