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.
- The Trespasser – French
- Lolita – V. Nabokov
- Child of God – C. McCarthy
- Provinces of Night – W. Gay
- All the Ugly and Beautiful Things – B. Greenwood
- Bull Mountain – B. Panowich
- All Gown Up – J. Attenburg
- Summer of the Cicada – W. Napier
- Behind Her Eyes – S. Pinborough
- Commonwealth – A. Patchett
- Heart of Darkness – J. Conrad
- Beloved – T. Morrison
- The Mothers – B. Bennett
- Since We Fell – D. LeHane
- Bird by Bird – A. Lamott
- Mystery and Manners – F. O’Connor
- Fates and Furies – L. Groff
- Into the Water – P. Hawkins
- The Handmaid’s Tale – M. Atwood
- Miss Peregrine’s School – R. Riggs
- A Tree Born Crooked – S. Post
- The Weight of This World – D. Joy
- Start Up – D. Shaffrir
- You Will Know Me – M. Abbot
- The Last Child – J. Hart
- In A Dark Dark Wood – R. Ware
- Final Girls – R. Sagar
- Hunger – R. Gay
- Heavenly Table – D.R. Pollock
- Outer Dark – C. McCarthy
- The Risen – R. Rash
- The Heaven’s May Fall – A. Eskens
- Grief Cottage – G. Godwin
- Beach Music – P. Conroy
- Hausfrau – J. Essbaum
- Lucky You – E. Carter
- Yellow Birds – K. Powers
- The Last Ballad – W. Cash
- And the Mountains Echoed – K. Hosseini
- Never Let Me Go – K. Ishiguro
- The Spy That Came In From The Cold – J. Le Carre
- Over the Plain Houses – J. Franks
- My Sunshine Away – M.O. Walsh
- Eat Only When You’re Hungry – L. Hunter
- Elinor Olyphant is Completely Fine – G. Honeyman
- Priestdaddy – P. Lockwood
Worst Book – All 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 Disappointing – Since 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.