Reading Matters

Dustballs, best books, headliners of 2017

Anna Lamott
Anna Lamott Google

I dreamed last night I was writing this column in my old digs at the Poplar apartments in Fourth Ward. Every time I wrote a sentence, I looked up and saw dust balls gathering on the bare floors, which meant I had to keep abandoning the column to mop them up.

I got the hint. You don’t want to hear about dusty old 2016. You want to hear what we can look forward to in 2017.

OK. Fine. But how about a compromise? I’d love to mention a few of my favorite books of 2016:

“Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings,” a novel by Stephen O’Connor.

“Boy Erased: A Memoir,” by Garrard Conley.

“Dimestore: A Writer’s Life,” by Lee Smith.

“All At Sea: A Memoir,” by Decca Aitkenhead

“A Little Life,” a novel by Hanya Yanigihara

Now let’s mop up and move on.

Guess who’s coming to town in April? Anne Lamott, author of such bestselling non-fiction books as the classic “Bird by Bird,” “Traveling Mercies,” “Help, Thanks, Wow,” and most recently, “Stitches.” She’ll be at Ovens Auditorium at 7 p.m., on April 6, joining the Rev. Chip Edens to talk about her new book “Hallelujah Anyway.” The $35 admission includes a copy of the book. To register:

This year’s Canarroe Lecturer at Davidson College is the fabulous short story writer and novelist Lorrie Moore, winner of the Irish Times Prize for International Literature and the Rea Award for the Short Story. She’ll speak at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 in the 900 Room in the Alvarez College Union on the campus. The event is free. To register:

While in solitary confinement for carjacking, someone slipped under Reginald Dwayne Betts’s cell door the anthology “Black Poets.” It changed his life. He has since published poetry and non-fiction, including, “A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival and Coming of Age in Prison.” He’ll give a free lecture at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 in the Belk Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir Rhyne University.

Next year’s Irene Blair Honecutt Distinguished Lecturer at the Sensoria Festival of Literature and the Arts on the CPCC campus is George Saunders, whose most recent collection of short stories, “The Tenth of December,” was a finalist for the National Book Award. His debut novel in February is “Lincoln in the Bardo.” He’ll speak twice on April 5 on the CPCC campus: at 10:30 a.m. in Halton Theater and at 8 p.m. in Pease Auditorium.

There you have it: The best-mopped floor of 2017.