Not too many years ago, an acquaintance criticized my penchant for unsparing critique. "Go a little easier on everyone," he advised, "and what's more, you're so feminine. Can't you just choose one gender and stick to it?" After nodding and stroking my chin in mock contemplation, I smiled, we laughed together and I shoved the impudent churl from the railway platform. Peradventure his counsel was well-intentioned and in some part sound, but who is he to judge me, who so ably judges others? Nonetheless, I don't want to be thought an unswerving malcontent, so here's a listing of great works new to me this year. Enjoy!