Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Readings, 2017 Goals

Happy New Year, y'all. Here's my annual reading recap.

For starters, this is what I wrote last year, when I revisited my 2015 readings: "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."

Back in 2015, I read 93 books. This year, my total went down to 55, but I have good excuses. First, my girlfriend and I moved from Chicago to Lafayette, Louisiana for her PhD candidacy. From packing, to planning, to coordinating the drive down south (helped immensely by my brother and sister-in-law), reading time was taken up by this. I also started teaching English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I highly enjoyed teaching, but was unaccustomed to how time consuming it is. Lesson planning, class readings, assignment preparations, student meetings, grading, and general anxiety about essentially performing four times a week in front of nearly fifty students: I read fewer books from September to December. I started several, but they took over a month to read when they should've taken a week at most.

My goals for 2017 as a reader aren't as detailed as my goals as a writer. I (still) want to spend more money on small press titles, because we as a community need to sustain them. I'm not preaching from a soapbox, because I could have done more to financially support worthy literary organizations. With the Trump administration just weeks away (oh fuck, just typing that makes me angry), small presses will need to to remain voices and homes for the voices that might be silenced or marginalized by the powers that be. I want to remain optimistic about 2017, but deep down, I worry it'll be a shitshow. So, I want to do less talking about supporting diverse demographics and more buying, reading, and promoting of them.

So this means I'll do everything I can to help small presses and literary magazines. I also have an entire shelf of great literary magazine back issues (Hobart, American Short Fiction, Fence, Tin House) that need attention.

I'd love to hear your goals, too. As always, I'm eager for recommendations.

Here's to 2017. As we read and write, don't forget to fight back against the backwards thinking that wants to prevail in our culture. This is a challenge to myself more than anything.

My 2016 readings are listed below:

1.) Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

2.) Crazy Horse's Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth

3.) Negroland by Margo Jefferson

4.) Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexual by Patricia Lockwood

5.) Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

6.) Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

7.) The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks

8.) Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago by Gillian O'Brien

9.) Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen

10.) Elegy/Elk River by Michael Schmeltzer

11.) What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

12.) The Girl Who Could Only Say 'sex, drugs, and rock & roll' by Kendra Fortmeyer

13.) The Farmacist by Ashley Farmer

14.) The Revelator by Robert Kloss

15.) Slut Lullabies by Gina Frangello

16.) Find Me by Laura van den Berg

17.) The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

18.) The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

19.) Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell (re-read)

20.) A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

21.) If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home by Dave Housley

22.) The Upper Peninsula Misses You by Mark Magoon

23.) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

24.) Long, Last, Happy: New and Collected Stories by Barry Hannah

25.) The Vegetarian by Han Kang

26.) Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle

27.) The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore

28.) Please Don't Be Upset and Other Stories by Brandi Wells

29.) The New York Stories by Ben Tanzer

30.) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

31.) My Only Wife by Jac Jemc (re-read)

32.) Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

33.) Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA by Jonathan Abrams

34.) Beloved by Toni Morrison (re-read)

35.) Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi

36.) Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

37.) Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

38.) The Tennessee Highway Death Chant by Keegan Jennings Goodman

39.) McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

40.) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

41.) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks

42.) Dandarians: Poems by Lee Ann Roripaugh

43.) Insurrections: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott

44.) Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money by Rebecca Curtis

45.) Mesogeios by Steve Karas

46.) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

47.) How the Post Office Created America: A History by Winifred Gallagher

48.) Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti

49.) The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

50.) Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar

51.) No Man's Wild Laura by Beth Gilstrap

52.) The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

53.) Sing the Song by Meredith Alling

54.) Swing Time by Zadie Smith

55.) You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

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