Thursday, January 4, 2018
Hi there. I hope 2018 is off to a great start for you.
Every year, I do a recap of the books I read in the previous year, plus a look at my stated goals, to see if I met them. Here's what I wrote last January:
"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."
"Deep down, I worry it'll be a shitshow." Oh boy, was I prophetic. Not only was 2017 a terrible year from a civic and international point of view, it was awful for me, personally. As I've written in my TinyLetter, I'm a straight white male: no matter how hard my life is, it wasn't personally under attack by virtually every aspect of the GOP and T***P administration. But I was dangerously underemployed for most of 2017. My teaching position wasn't renewed, and I was left scrambling, searching far and wide for freelance gigs, new jobs, and any measure of gainful employment. I lucked out and received a full-time management promotion at my bookstore, which made the second half of 2017 much less anxiety and depression-ridden. When I had baskets full of free time, I was either job hunting or staring at the ceiling in panic. At times, I couldn't bring myself to get lost in a book or my own writing, because I felt guilty for indulging in these activities.
That said, I didn't finish too far off last year. In 2016, I read 55 books. Last year, I finished at 53. For 2018, I want to double down on small press support, especially with so many eagerly anticipated titles forthcoming. I'm not going to make any grand, specific goals, because I'll undoubtedly fail, so I'll shoot for 60-70 books.
I have a Goodreads account, but I only use it to update my readings, not to rate or review titles, I'm going to do that more this year, but I feel uneasy with the horribly unscientific nature of the site, but I do know that ratings are helpful for small press writers. In lieu of ratings or playing favorites, the books that I've highlighted in bold spoke to me in various ways. You can call these my favorites, or merely strong highlights.
If you have your own list or goals, I'd love to read them. Feel free to send them my way. And here's to 2018: let's remain vigilant and supportive of the literary community. I wouldn't be anything without it.
1.) Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
2.) The Body's Question by Tracy K. Smith
3.) Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller
4.) Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
5.) I'll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell
6.) The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
7.) Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song by Kara Vernor
8.) The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead
9.) The Insides by Jeremy P. Bushnell
10.) Versed by Rae Armantrout
11.) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
12.) Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith
13.) Shrill by Lindy West
14.) Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
15.) Massive Cleansing Fire by Dave Housley
16.) Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh
17.) Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell
18.) Bloodline: Five Stories by Ernest J. Gaines
19.) Baseball Life Advice by Stacey May Fowles
20.) All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
21.) Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz
22.) A Manual for Nothing by Jessica Anne
23.) St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
24.) Tacos by Cyn Vargas
25.) Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
26.) Lightwood by Steph Post
27.) Teche by Shane K. Bernard
28.) Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard
29.) Friendship by Emily Gould
30.) Hunger by Roxane Gay
31.) Dream-like Houses by Joyce Chong
32.) Made For Love by Alissa Nutting
33.) A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
34.) Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home by Shasta Grant
35.) Eat Only When You're Hungry by Lindsay Hunter
36.) Speedboat by Renata Adler
37.) Animal Heart by Paul Luikart
38.) Chemistry by Weike Wang
39.) The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore by Jared Yates Sexton
40.) Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
41.) Different Seasons by Stephen King
42.) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
43.) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
44.) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
45.) Stephen King's The Body: Bookmarked by Aaron Burch
46.) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
47.) The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
48.) We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
49.) The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
50.) The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
51.) Sons and Other Flammable Objects by Porochista Khakpour
52.) Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
53.) Felt in the Jaw by Kristen Arnett
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...
Finding an essay topic for a book like The Bell Jar is not unlike the old holiday slogan "What do you get for the person who has eve...
There are two different reasons why I recently read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood : The first reason: my older brother loaned it to me...
Even in 2012, one of the more striking traits about John Dos Passos was his tendency to write about the American immigrant experience in a ...