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.
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