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Johnson said, “No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” However, he spent nine years working on the first great dictionary of the English language, and he didn’t do for money. ) My list of the past year’s literary favorites now numbers twenty-one titles, nearly all of them novels.In addition, I notice with surprise and delight that every single one is by a living author, all but one published within the last decade.That says a great deal about my feelings toward the state of modern fiction. But still, that is a daunting number of books to face up to writing about.Past issues of Bubba’s Book Club have managed to cover as little as one book, and maybe up to six.And as someone observed, “The hardest kind of writing is being smart about books.” (Okay, that was me.) Perhaps, to a blockhead, that reason alone makes it worth the effort to try.But there is also the simple motive of wanting to “share the love.” On this occasion, a couple of reflections encouraged me to attempt it.

Both have portrayed disaffected, alienated youth through the generational filter of pop culture (members of a club that also includes Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers, I guess), yet both have gone on to cast wider nets over life and lives.

All through 2012 and into 2013 I kept a list of the books I hoped to write about for Bubba’s Book Club.

(The key word was “hoped.”) Unlike most book reviewers, I have the luxury of choosing to read only books that I expect to enjoy.

Lives of quiet struggle without company, and without notice, in their solitary rounds — people who exist in their own minds, but feel as though they are invisible to others.

(As they often are.) Certain characters in (2005 — see Issue 2), and it is fair to say that Mr.

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