Year-end best-of book lists can be tough. After all, if you’re anything like us, you’re still catching up on the best books of 2010 — or 1910 — and only sneaking a few brand new hardcovers into the mix. So when sitting down to contemplate our collective year in reading, we decided to include everything, not just the new stuff. After the jump, your humble literary editor and a few other Flavorpill staffers expound on the best books we read this year — whether they be books that came out this year, or just the ones we finally (finally!) got around to reading. And inquiring minds want to know, dear readers, what was the best book you read this year? Let us know in the comments.
Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin – Geoff Mak, Sales Designer
I read the first clause of this book “I stand at the window of this great house,” and I wanted it tattooed on my arm. This is one of the earliest gay American novels before the gay genre really became a thing, and it’s not even set in America. Giovanni’s Room is probably the most anomalous of Baldwin’s novels, as it centers on a tragic affair between two bisexual men: a blonde American and an Italian bartender named Giovanni. Both live in in the seedy, nocturnal Paris of the 1950s, full of drag queens and sugar daddies of money new and old. In the same way that Baldwin manages to paint the African American experience as one of all of humanity, he universalizes the gay experience with empathetic acuity, and a fast-paced plot of merely 200 pages. I read this in two days. And then I read it again.