Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 Readings, 2018 Goals

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

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