Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Readings, 2016 Goals

It's time for my annual reading recap, where I list my readings for the year, compare it to my original goals, and make tentative plans for 2016.

Earlier this year, I wrote:

"So for 2015, I want my final tally to be 75-80% women writers, and with more minority and GLBT voices as well (any recommendations? I'd love to hear them). I'm not going to make a number prediction. I was happy to break 80 titles, and if I stay within the 70-80 range, I'll be happy. As I always say: quality beats quantity. With that in mind, I'm not ranking these titles under any "great/good/mediocre" categories, but merely writing out the reading list chronologically."

I ended up reading 93 titles, a nice little bump from last year. As for the gender breakdown: 68 women, 24 men, and 1 anthology (which was split down the middle, more or less). This rough estimate means I read around 73% women writers, which is below my stated goal of 75-80%. Overall, I'm pleased, but I want to keep that going in 2016.

Here's the list:

1.) The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

2.) Promising Young Women by Suzanne Scanlon

3.) Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli

4.) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

5.) My Only Wife by Jac Jemc

6.) Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

7.) My Ántonia by Willa Cather

8.) On Immunity by Eula Biss

9.) The Hook and the Haymaker by Jared Yates Sexton

10.) Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska

11.) What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg

12.) An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

13.) A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us by Caleb Daniel Curtiss

14.) Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

15.) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (re-read)

16.) The Street by Ann Petry

17.) I am Barbarella by Beth Gilstrap

18.) Jillian by Halle Butler

19.) Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

20.) Don't Ask Me to Spell it Out by Robert James Russell

21.) Pushing the Bear: After the Trail of Tears by Diane Glancy

22.) The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna

23.) Today I am a Book by xTx

24.) Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli

25.) This Boring Apocalypse by Brandi Wells

26.) Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

27.) Her 37th Year: An Index by Suzanne Scanlon

28.) Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

29.) The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper

30.) Toughlahoma by Christian TeBordo

31.) Creature by Amina Cain

32.) Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler

33.) This Must Be the Place by Sean H. Doyle

34.) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

35.) On the Way by Cyn Vargas

36.) Families Among Us by Blake Kimzey

37.) Other Kinds by Dylan Nice

38.) I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

39.) Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

40.) The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

41.) Someday This Will Be Funny by Lynne Tillman

42.) Can't and Won't by Lydia Davis

43.) Kindred by Octavia Butler

44.) Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria

45.) The Brothers by Masha Gessen

46.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

47.) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

48.) The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

49.) Deep Violence: Military Violence, War Play, and the Social Life of Weapons by Joanna Bourke

50.) Hollywood Notebook by Wendy C. Ortiz

51.) Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy

52.) Scrapper by Matt Bell

53.) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

54.) Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

55.) Invisible Women by Lily Hoang

56.) Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

57.) Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

58.) Locked Away by Gabe Durham

59.) Man Bites Cloud by Bob Schofield

60.) Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann

61.) Oracle by Cate Marvin

62.) The Other Serious: Essays For the New American Generation by Christy Wampole

63.) The Black Automaton by Douglas Kearney

64.) Mesilla by Robert James Russell

65.) Hank by Abraham Smith

66.) You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

67.) To Be Human is to Be a Conversation by Andrea Rexilius

68.) A View From Above by Wilt Chamberlain

69.) Among the Wild Mulattos and Other Tales by Tom Williams

70.) The Good Thief by Marie Howe

71.) For You, for You I am Trilling These Songs by Kathleen Rooney

72.) Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

73.) The Way We Weren't by Jill Talbot

74.) Ecodeviance: (Soma)tics For the Future Wilderness by CA Conrad

75.) Paulina & Fran by Rachel B. Glaser

76.) The Story of my Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

77.) Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

78.) Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

79.) The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

80.) Kinda Sorta American Dream by Steve Karas

81.) A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor

82.) Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolaño

83.) Bottom of the Ninth by Wyl Villacres

84.) The Face of Baseball by Robyn Ryle

85.) Resurrection Science by M.R. O'Connor

86.) Does Not Love by James Tadd Adcox

87.) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

88.) Gutshot by Amelia Gray

89.) Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple

90.) Meaty by Samantha Irby

91.) Flashes of Life by Micah Ling

92.) The Best Small Fictions 2015 edited by Tara L. Masih and Robert Olen Butler

93.) The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak

I don't like to pick favorites, because with such a mix of novels, story collections, poetry, and creative nonfiction/essays, it's silly to do any kind of ranking, since all of these books were terrific in their own ways. I would like to thank Cari Luna, Porochista Khakpour, and Eric Shonkwiler for their works, since I read them at times when I struggled with my own novel/thesis. Their works are wildly different from each other and from what I was writing at the time, but their characters, pacing, and layers served as inspirations for me. Thank you.

I'm also partial to Suzanne Scanlon's books. She's one of my favorite writers and has been such a valuable teacher and mentor to me, providing tremendous help in my own work.

This total might be skewed because I read more poetry and chapbooks this year, but a book is a book. I wouldn't go up to a chapbook author on this list and say "hey, I loved your work, but I'm not counting it because it's only 80 pages." Hell no.

In 2016, I want to read more classics, more international translations, and spend more money on small press titles. My goals will fluctuate as the year goes on, but I think that's a good starting point.

As always: feedback is welcome. Recommendations are gleefully accepted, especially minority and GLBT works that I should keep on my radar.

Happy 2016, all.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Beth Gilstrap Interview at Split Lip Magazine

The new issue of Split Lip Magazine is up, and I'm thrilled to have a contribution: I interviewed one of my favorite writers, Beth Gilstrap.

We discussed writing, social media, and pets. You can read the interview here, and the rest of Split Lip here.

Thank you to Beth for being an inspiration (her collection I Am Barbarella is one of my favorites of 2015), and thank you to Amanda Miska (Editor in Chief of Split Lip Magazine, another favorite person).

"You Against You" in Hobart; "I Don't Want to Pry" in Pidgeonholes

Hey y'all. I'm a little late posting these, but I was fortunate to have two new publications this week, working in new genres, a...