This is the third year I’ve kept track of my reading for the year and it’s the third year coming in right around 30 books. I think it would be great to read 52 in 2017. Let’s see if that can happen. What do I notice? This was a year of reading white women, for sure. Only 5 men and only 2 people of color in the whole list. That’s not great range, though since this accounting began in part out of the #readonlywomen movement of 2014, the preponderance of women in itself is neither surprising nor entirely bad.
Other observations: eight audiobooks (audiobook listening dwindling sharply between the conventions and that horrifying election and then rose again), only three books on the Kindle. A play. More experimental writing than in past years (11, 16, 23, & 25), so that’s good. And, with Mina Loy’s collection, even a bit of poetry. Also: some genre fiction this year in the form of three thrillers. Lee Child came to Fordham to honor alum Mary Higgins Clark and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I loved them and they certainly are a great way to finish a book quickly when just getting a complete narrative into your head feels like what needs to happen next.
My least favorite books of the year were the Brittain biography (ponderous and too impatient to get to her pacifist work to see the rest of her life as interesting or worth documenting) and Eileen Myles (I know she’s a darling, but I found this memoirish novel almost unbearably self-indulgent. It’s really really hard for me to read about being drunk and on fellowship, dealing drugs and cheating on girlfriends who cheat on you.) I just felt the weight of all the time she was wasting. I kept reading—at a snail’s pace—because every few pages there would be a sentence that was absolutely dazzling and because I am a stubborn cuss.
My favorite book, by far, was H is for Hawk. Although I think about that handsome lug of a husband from Fates and Furies from time to time with a sigh.
1. To Bed With Grand Music, Marghanita Laski (fiction)
2. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff (fiction, audiobook)
3. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, Shani Boianjiu (fiction)
4. Plum Bun, Jessie Fauset (fiction)
5. Unspeakable, Meghan Daum (nonfiction)
6. Negroland, Margo Jefferson (nonfiction)
7. Give and Take, Adam Grant (nonfiction, audiobook)
8. Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, Hilary Mantel (fiction, Kindle)
9. Richard III, William Shakespeare (drama, audiobook)
10. Bossypants, Tina Fey (nonfiction, Kindle)
11. The Argonuats, Maggie Nelson (nonfiction)
12. H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald (nonfiction, audiobook)
13. Excellent Women, Barbara Pym (fiction)
14. Bloomsbury Pie, Regina Marler (nonfiction)
15. Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin (nonfiction, audiobook)
16. Artful, Ali Smith (nonfiction)
17. The Torso, Helene Thursen (fiction)
18. Vera Brittain: A Life, Mark Bostridge (nonfiction)
19. Killing Floor, Lee Child (fiction)
20. The Story of an African Farm, Olive Schreiner (fiction)
21. A House Full of Daughters, Juliet Nicolson (memoir)
22. The Lost Lunar Baedeker, Mina Loy (poetry)
23. Where are the Children, Mary Higgins Clark (fiction)
24. Chelsea Girls, Eileen Myles (fiction)
25. Pretend You Don’t See Her, Mary Higgins Clark (fiction)
26. Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton (memoir, audiobook)
27. This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust (nonfiction, audiobook)
28. Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit (nonfiction, Kindle)
29. Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance (nonfiction, audiobook)