I was tempted not to post my full reading list from 2016 as I fell far short of my reading goal of fifty books. And even as I write that, excuses fill my mouth. I’ll swallow them as everyone has a life outside of books. Everyone has fallen in love. Everyone has commitments to others in life that they must honor. Children and soccer and lover in the mix this year, I encountered spectacular worlds and characters on the page. I was disappointed by a few titles, but also changed by several, made different on a cellular level by words. Even if I read far fewer words than I’d intended, having the opportunity to let them in is a gift in itself.
Here’s the list of the thirty-three books I read this year, twenty-one of them written by women.
Completed (* indicates a re-read):
Fox Tooth Heart by John McManus
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
The Giver by Lois Lowry
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Emigrants by W. Sebald
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Gone Girl* by Gillian Flynn
The Luckiest Girl In The World by Jessica Knoll
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Story Of A New Name by Elena Ferrante
Attack Of The Copula Spiders by Douglas Glover
Circling The Sun by Paula McLain
The Vegetarian by Han King
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Girls by Emma Cline
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Penderwicks Book One by Jeanne Birdsall
Artemis Fowl, Books One—Six by Eoin Colfer
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Best of Roald Dahl by Roald Dahl
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante
If you are looking for recommendations for reading in 2017, please pick up copies of Gyasi’s Homegoing, Groff’s Fates and Furies, Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Yanagihara’s A Little Life. Finishing these books was like emerging from a dream, not necessarily a happy one, and being unable to shake off the sense that life changed fundamentally while I was under. Once I started Cline’s The Girls and Knoll’s The Luckiest Girl In The World, reading was a compulsion.
I was inspired by writer friends and colleagues to start tracking my reading. Their lists each year humbled me and also provided guidance for that beautiful moment when I ask, “hmm, what should I read next?” After two years of graduate school I had a record of every book I’d read and ever paper I’d written. Since graduating in 2014, I hadn’t taken the time to reflect on my reading throughout the year. I’m glad that this year I have, even if the practice births a resolution to up my reading game to forty titles this year.
Happy reading and writing this year!