2014 was filled with real tragedies, nationally and internationally. All the while, we went on as individuals, going to the supermarket and through mountain passes, worrying about being late and uncertain what to do when we arrive early. When they make the period piece set in 2014, I wonder how they’ll represent all the mundane that happened amidst all the chaos. In any case, amidst all the chaos and mundane, I did a lot of reading. And here’s what I read over the past year:
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
Maybe I’ll remember 2014 as the year I read Neapolitan Trilogy. To be real, I had a lot of trouble with the first 100 pages, but once I got into this series, the next 1000 pages flew by. I’ve never been one for fantasy or multi-part epic, but after reading Ferrante, I can see the appeal. By the time I started the second book, The Story of a Name, I felt like I was living two lives—my own and Ferrante’s.
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman
Quack This Way, David Foster Wallace and Bryan A. Garner
My dad followed a link from an American Bar Association email to an interview with DFW about arguing persuasively. He subsequently bought me this book and I enjoyed it.
Maus, Art Spiegelman (reread)
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
I love self-help. I believe in the wisdom of the obvious. From Lean In, I’ve come to think about my writing as a child of sorts, and I’ve fought for mornings to write as if I were trying to make some little league game.
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
If Edith Wharton were alive today, we wouldn’t be friends, but I would definitely stalk her on Facebook.
Bark, Lorrie Moore
I mean Lorrie Moore!
Canada, Richard Ford
I mean Richard Ford!
The Humor Code, Peter McGraw & Joel Warner.
The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante
S/Z, Roland Barthes
I don’t think I should even list this book. I totally gave up on it because it wasn’t assigned by a professor and I am weak.
Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman
Two years later, I really liked this book. It was a very smart take on the way we live and love now. Related recommended reading: Sasha Weiss’s take on the Page Turner blog.
Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, Caroline Knapp
Men Without Women, Richard Ford
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright
I can only hope that Scientology has some dirt on Beck, otherwise this interview is bananas.
Sabbath’s Theater, Philip Roth
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami
The Plague, Albert Camus
Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave, Elena Ferrante
Outlines, Rachel Cusk
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham
One of Ours, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing
I’m writing a short story about the Oklahoma City Bombing, so I read this book. It hasn’t made my short story better yet.
Best American Short Shorts, 2014, Jennifer Egan (editor)
A controversial list.
The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor, Peter Taylor
The Group, Mary McCarthy
Every Day is for the Thief, Teju Cole
10:04, Ben Lerner
I want more people I know to read this book so we can talk about it. That’s not the same as an endorsement. It’s more of a pre-endorsement of a conversation.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast
Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin