My Year in Reading

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January 9, 2017 by carlywont

We all know by now that 2016 sucked. Donald fucking Trump; the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen (to name only the ones I cared about the most); the Syrian refugee crisis; friggin’ Brexit; continued terrorist attacks around the world and police brutality; the list goes on and on. Add to that a few personal losses of mine and the fact that I was pregnant (and sick of being pregnant) nearly the entire year and you’ve got 365 sucky days.


But that’s not all folks. My year in reading kind of sucked, too. I wanted to read 25 books this year—a goal that seemed modest compared to previous years—but I only clocked in at 20. Not completing my annual GoodReads challenge felt weirdly shameful. My heart hurt every time I logged in to the site and saw the Reading Challenge icon announcing I was “x number of books behind schedule.”

But here’s what I did read in 2016 when I wasn’t mindlessly binging on terrible TV shows while lying in bed with morning sickness:

  1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  2. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  3. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  4. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  5. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
  6. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  7. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso
  8. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  9. French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
  10. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  11. Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
  12. Mr. Splitfoot by Samatha Hunt
  13. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  14. The Girls by Emma Cline
  15. The Danish Way of Parenting by Iben Dissing Sandahl and Jessica Joelle Alexander
  16. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  17. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  18. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
  19. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
  20. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

I honestly didn’t love anything I read this year. I can’t even tell you my favorite. But I do think it’s pretty awesome that I only read ONE book by a man. Not even purposefully, guys.

Now that I’m looking at the list in its entirety, the ones that stand out are:

  • Mr. Splitfoot because it’s the first book I’ve read by a local author in a long, long time. And it was good!
  • Geek Love because it’s the strangest book I’ve read in a long, long time. Like what the crap Katherine Dunn? Pretty fascinating.
  • The Girls because I read it very quickly.
  • Just Kids because it’s Patti Smith, people.
  • Bringing Up Bebe because it helped me chill this pregnancy and validated my decision to drink a few harmless glasses of wine over ten long months.
  • Fates and Furies because it was infuriating and I still don’t know if I loved or hated it.
  • To the Bright Edge of the World because I thought it was boring at first but now that I have some distance, I think it was understated but quite good and I hope “they” make it into a movie.

On to 2017. I decided to keep my books goal at 24 for this year. Two a month seems doable with a toddler and a newborn. I had quite a few friends who read 52 books this year and while I’m super jealous of that, it’s not realistic for me and also my memory is crap enough that I’d probably only retain about 12 of those books anyway.

My other reading goals for the year include: reading a “classic”; reading more than one book of short stories; reading a book of poetry; and reading more nonfiction not related to parenting.

Still creating your 2017 reading goals? Here’s BookRiot’s Read Harder challenge for 2017. And PopSugar has one, too.

Also, if you want to read about a year in reading way more interesting than mine, check out Roxane Gay’s Tumblr.


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