year in read

Year in Read, 2015

The Empathy Exams*, Leslie Jamison
Are You Really Listening?, Mary E. Siegel and Paul J. Donoghue
The Ultimate Good Luck, Richard Ford
Moby-Dick®, Herman Melville
Reasons to Live, Amy Hempel
Stories of Frank O’Connor, Frank O’Connor
Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked, James Lasdun
Splash State*, Todd Colby

When your former running store manager publishes a book of poetry, you use a Bodyglide insert as a bookmark.

Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson
Suddenly, A Knock on the Door*, Etgar Keret
There’s Something I Want You To Do*, Charles Baxter

In an interview on Bookworm, Baxter says that wanting someone to do something else is the basic premise of every story. He has a point. 

The Secret History*, Donna Tartt

If our paths crossed in late March, and you asked what was going on with me, I would have answered that I was reading The Secret History. I spent most of my birthday blissed out reading it. It’s very rare and very special to be in the middle of a novel that creates such a feeling of immersion.  

The Anatomy of Story, John Truby

Not wrong. 

Attached, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
Sweet Talk®*, Stephanie Vaughn

This is Vaughn’s only book, but nearly every story in this collection is a heart breaker. Check out Dog Heaven and Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog on the New Yorker fiction podcast. 

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Mindful Writer, Dinty W. Moore
Stoner, John Williams
The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis
One of Us, Asne Seierstad
Wildlife, Richard Ford
Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan
Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari

Honestly, I had to stop reading this because it was stressing me out.

This Won’t Take But a Minute*, Honey, Steve Almond
The Goldfinch*, Donna Tartt
The Story of the Lost Child*, Elena Ferrante

Ferrante fever is real. I left social engagements early to read; I had two dreams about this book while I was reading it. A 1600 page series is a commitment, sure, but if you’re curious about female friendship or Italy, it’s worth reading. Previously.  

Slaughterhouse90210*, Maris Kreizman


New American Stories, Ben Marcus (Editor)
American Pastoral®, Philip Roth
The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante
Tiny Beautiful Things*, Cheryl Strayed

* Raronuer recommended
® A Raronauer reread

Previously read: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Year in Read, 2014

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

Previously read: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Year in Read, 2012

2012: Well, the world didn’t explode, though parts of it did go under. The high of 2012 was the Big Sur Marathon; the low was crying in a parking lot in Broomfield. The best meals were the Kosher Fried Chicken, the Vert practice dinner party and the Momofuku Pork Butt. The worst meals were the many times I had two Eggo Waffles and an avocado for dinner. In the past 12 months, I voted in a swing state, hiked two 14-ers, swam in a creek, pond, and an ocean, wrote some, and read more. After the jump, the books I read over the past year.

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

I like the Midwest, I like Moby-Dick, and I like gay people, but I didn’t like this book. Which is too bad, because everyone else seemed to really enjoy it, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good book.

Like Life, Lorrie Moore

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

Big Sur, Jack Kerouac

It’s hard to take Jack Kerouac seriously as an adult.

The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson

This is a book about black migration during Jim Crow era. The bookmark in my copy is a ticket to a Denver Nuggets game.

The After-Life, Donald Antrim

Related recommendation: “I Bought A Bed

Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis

I guess I find nihilism aesthetically pleasing, because I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had something real to say about the 80s entitled teenage experience. Related: If Only There Were a Book Club For Every Literary Experience I Have, Less Than Zero Edition.

Scenes in America Deserta, Reyner Banham

The American desert fascinates me, but I couldn’t imagine living somewhere so inherently inhospitable to life.

Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel

The Gaggle, Jessica Massa (with Rebecca Wiegand)

My friends wrote a dating self-help book!

After Henry, Joan Didion

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra

Desperate Characters, Paula Fox

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

A woman finds herself while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Obviously, you want to hate it, but there’s no way to. It’s a great book.

Coming Into the Country, John McPhee

Red Letter Secondhand Books and Alfalfa’s are my favorite retail establishments in Boulder. They’re the first two stores I visited east of the continental divide in Colorado, and though they are now places I frequent regularly, they still remind me of my road trip buddy. Whenever I go to Red Letter, I usually buy a book he would like. He’s the one who introduced me to John McPhee, and I bought this book here. If you’re curious about the Last Frontier and people who would literally rather pull their tooth out themselves than be apart of society, this is the book for you.

Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life, Anonymous

Great title, obviously. That’s the best part of it

Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld (reread)

I Don’t Care About Your Band, Julie Klausner*

Columbine, Dave Cullen

Once A Runner, John L. Parker, Jr.

Runners believe this book is great in the same way that cyclists believe Lance Armstrong was clean.

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

I didn’t like this book in 1999 and I didn’t like it in 2012.

Rock Springs, Richard Ford

Previously. If you have any interest in the short form, the American West and loneliness, you should read this book.

Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick

Usually the people of a repressed state know they’re starving, their leaders are dictators and life is lacking. The citizens of North Korea have no idea. There’s a lot that’s less than ideal in America, but at least we can talk about the problems. Plus, there’s tons of food. No book has made me feel luckier to be an American.

On Writing, Stephen King*

This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz

The best book about failed love I’ve ever read.

The Sportswriter, Richard Ford

Look at Me, Jennifer Egan*

Midnight in Sicily, Peter Robb*

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Oh man. Do you want to have that feeling of not being able to put a book down? Then read this one

Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth (reread)

I first read this novella when I was 20 and in love for the first time. Reading it now, when my understanding of emotional intimacy has evolved to include a willingness to do tedious things with another person, was a completely different experience. I wasn’t rooting for Neil and Brenda anymore; I could see how a life for them would be pretty miserable. Even so, I had to put the book down when Neil was visiting Boston. Related.

In Strange Gardens, Peter Hamm

The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton

If you’re curious about subcultures and athletics, this book is a good read.

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (reread)

This book feels like a secret between Ernest Hemingway and me, and every time I reread it, it becomes funnier and sadder.

* = Didn’t finish.

Previously read: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006