Charles Shields made waves in the literary world this year with his biography of Harper Lee, Mockingbird, and he is now researching his next project, a biography of Kurt Vonnegut. In the meantime, however, he sent along the best books he read this year:
I have two books tied for first place, but they excel for the same reasons: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte, and Lord David Cecil’s The Stricken Deer (the life of the poet William Cowper). An unforgettable biography weaves together a subjects’ characteristic traits, physical appearance, conflicts, and signs of self-awareness. Mrs. Gaskell and Lord Cecil are masters of the craft.