2017 Reading Challenge

Posted by in Reading Challenge

I love reading. Possibly, it seems a little silly that every year one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read more. But.. as you know… I want to be a writer, and according to Stephen King, one of the biggest rules for writers is to read – constantly and voraciously. According to Mr. King, if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time – or the tools, to write, and I completely agree. (It of course helps that he is telling me that I HAVE to do something that I love to do. Sort of like my doctor telling me that what I really need to do to be healthier is to drink more wine and eat more cheese. But anyway…..)

This year has been a big one for me. On top of life, and kids, and a husband who cooks all the meals but occasionally likes me to vacuum, I started the MA in English and Creative writing at SNHU last January, and I made the goal of 100 story rejections. So… I set my ‘pleasure reading’ goal lower than I have in the past. In 2017 I was aiming to read 36 books, I read 46.

  1. The Trespasser – French
  2. Lolita – V. Nabokov
  3. Child of God – C. McCarthy
  4. Provinces of Night – W. Gay
  5. All the Ugly and Beautiful Things – B. Greenwood
  6. Bull Mountain – B. Panowich
  7. All Gown Up – J. Attenburg
  8. Summer of the Cicada – W. Napier
  9. Behind Her Eyes – S. Pinborough
  10. Commonwealth – A. Patchett
  11. Heart of Darkness – J. Conrad
  12. Beloved – T. Morrison
  13. The Mothers – B. Bennett
  14. Since We Fell – D. LeHane
  15. Bird by Bird – A. Lamott
  16. Mystery and Manners – F. O’Connor
  17. Fates and Furies – L. Groff
  18. Into the Water – P. Hawkins
  19. The Handmaid’s Tale – M. Atwood
  20. Miss Peregrine’s School – R. Riggs
  21. A Tree Born Crooked – S. Post
  22. The Weight of This World – D. Joy
  23. Start Up – D. Shaffrir
  24. You Will Know Me – M. Abbot
  25. The Last Child – J. Hart
  26. In A Dark Dark Wood – R. Ware
  27. Final Girls – R. Sagar
  28. Hunger – R. Gay
  29. Heavenly Table – D.R. Pollock
  30. Outer Dark – C. McCarthy
  31. The Risen – R. Rash
  32. The Heaven’s May Fall – A. Eskens
  33. Grief Cottage – G. Godwin
  34. Beach Music – P. Conroy
  35. Hausfrau – J. Essbaum
  36. Lucky You – E. Carter
  37. Yellow Birds – K. Powers
  38. The Last Ballad – W. Cash
  39. And the Mountains Echoed – K. Hosseini
  40. Never Let Me Go – K. Ishiguro
  41. The Spy That Came In From The Cold – J. Le Carre
  42. Over the Plain Houses – J. Franks
  43. My Sunshine Away – M.O. Walsh
  44. Eat Only When You’re Hungry – L. Hunter
  45. Elinor Olyphant is Completely Fine – G. Honeyman
  46. Priestdaddy – P. Lockwood

High/Low Lights
Worst BookAll the Ugly and Beautiful Things – This one best book of 2016 on Book of The Month and I was terribly disappointed. I didn’t like any of the characters, the plot felt contrived and unoriginal (it’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) and the writing was just meh. I think that a lot of people would have been turned off by the age difference between the two romantic leads, that didn’t bother me. As you’ll see later in this list, I like dark. However, the creepiness of that age difference seemed like a gimmick, and that makes my skin crawl.
Most DisappointingSince We Fell or The Mothers, both of these books got big hype – I loved LeHane’s Shutter Island, but found both of these books to be underwhelming.
Best Books I read this year, in no particular order:

  • Weight of This World – David Joy – Joy is a local writer, he writes about what life is actually like for some of the people living in Western North Carolina. His writing is gritty, and often times nauseating. There are times when I want to hug him and tell him that there are soft things, there are kind people, but when I read him, I feel like he is telling me the truth, even if I don’t want to hear it.
  • Child of God and Outer Dark – Cormac McCarthy – spectacularly dark stories about the human condition, written in McCarthy’s signature spare style. They are riveting, terrorizing, and unforgettable.
  • And the Mountain’s Echoed – Khaled Hosseini – a beautiful, hopeful (I know, Mom! Hopeful!) story about family written in a very interesting style. I find this plot structure fascinating.
  • Memoirs – Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood is about being raised in a Conservative Christian household and Hunger by Roxane Gay is about weight, and specifically weight as a reaction to trauma, and they really connected with me this year. They made me feel like my experiences are worthwhile stories, and that I’m not alone.