Right after I shared Jeremy's write-ups on Instafiction's best stories of 2011, he posted a list of the books he read in 2011. I had posted a quick summary of my own readings on Facebook, but when I saw Jeremy's classifications, I felt moved to provide my own list here. Jeremy provided some tiered categories for his own readings: 'Masterpiece,' 'Great,' 'Very Good,' and 'Good With Reservations.' I'm going to copy those designations, but with a small caveat: I'm going by my feelings at this very moment, so a given classification may or may not match with the critical emotions of my previous reviews. I read 21 books this year, which is down from my total of 31 in 2010. If I can bump my total up to 25 or so this year, I'll be pleased. I'm not sure why there was such a drastic drop, but some of the books were very time consuming (in a good way), and I'm still fighting a never-ending battle with my filing cabinet of New Yorker back issues. Here goes:
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke
John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
Sex At Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Caclida Jetha
Ararat By Louise Glück
As She Climbed Across the Table and The Ecstasy Of Influence by Jonathan Lethem
Tin House #37: The Political Future (various contributors)
Collected Poems by Paul Auster
Hermit In Paris by Italo Calvino
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
GOOD WITH RESERVATIONS:
My Life As An Experiment by A.J. Jacobs
03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan
Smoking Typewriters by John McMillian
Oh What a Paradise It Seems by John Cheever
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
There Is No Year by Blake Butler
My goals for 2012 are pretty modest. There are a lot of 2011 books that I want to finish early in the year (I'm just about to begin Chad Harbach's The Art Of Fielding), including Ready, Player One, Zone One, The Marriage Plot, and Open City. I also want to squeeze in more nonfiction, especially world history, contemporary politics, and writings by black and female artists. My November publication in The Chicago Reader has sparked a desire to increase my freelance work, and if I can do so and help Instafiction at the same time, so much the better. As for my own fiction, I have a lot of ideas and half-sketched stories that need attention. That is all I'm going to say about my creative endeavors, since my history has been one of talking a lot about it, but without actually having much to show for it.
Are you a reader or an artist? Do you have a reading list from 2011, or a list of resolutions and creative goals? I'd love to read your notes. Comment away.
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