Notable Books from the Year I was Born

by Rachel Baker on March 30, 2010

Bookmarks is a magazine “for everyone who hasn’t read everything” and I’m happy to tell you, it is one of two magazines I actually pick up and devour (Bas Bleu being the other one). This is the ONLY magazine I have an actual subscription for. Receiving Bookmarks Magazine is truly a guilty pleasure and one I take very seriously. As soon as the magazine graces my mailbox, I forget all else and spend several hours reading it – pen in hand ready to circle the books that sound interesting for a variety of reasons. I may not devour the magazine in one sitting, but for weeks after, I pick the issues back up and leaf through it, comparing the reviews in the magazine with reviews online; contemplating whether I want to read a book or not.

I don’t know if others who receive this magazine do this, but I read EVERY single review written, tag books I’d like to read, and then go to the website and read through past reviews of books I haven’t read yet.

Each issue has a last page feature titled the year in books.  They pick a year and give you the award winners, other notables and the NY Times Best Sellers for that year. When I read the November/December issue from 2009 it didn’t occur to me the year in books was the year I was born.  Cleaning off my desk area the other day, I saw the issue, started leafing through it, and there is was…on the back page…1974 the year in books.

…I smell a personal reading challenge coming on…In 1974, the award winners were:

Eyvind Johnson (The Story of Olaf) and Harry Marinson (Flowering Nettle), both Swedish, tied for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

There was no Pulitzer Prize for fiction that year because though the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury recommended Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, the board rejected it as obscene. Gravity’s Rainbow did, however, share the National Book Award with Isaac Vashevis Singer’s A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories.

The Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction was given to Ernest Becker for The Denial of Death.

The Booker Award went to Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist
The Edgar Award went to Tony Hillerman’s Dance Hall of the Dead
The Hugo Award went to Aurthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama
The Nebula Award went to Ursula K Le Guin’s The Disposed: An Abmiguous Utopia

I’ve heard of Tony Hillerman, but none of the others.  Of that list, I want to read Gravity’s Rainbow and The Story of Olof.

Other notables from that year include:
Jaws by Peter Benchley
The Power Broker by Robert A Caro
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard
The Civil War by Shelby Foote
The Ebony Tower by John Fowles
Carrie by Stephen King
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robart M (Maynard) Pirsig
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Working by Studs Terkel

And the top five NY Times Best Sellers for fiction a month and a day after I was born were:
Centennial by James Michener
Something Happened by Joseph Heller
The Pirate by Harold Robbins
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Ed. Nicolas Meyer

I find these lists truly interesting.  Maybe I’ll challenge myself to read all the books on these lists – I’ll call it the “Notable Books from the Year I was Born Challenge.”

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