2018 Reading Challenge

Posted by in Reading Challenge

I love books. More than almost anything else, actually. More than wine, more than coffee, I could learn to live without ice cream, cardigans, and houseplants – but not books. Before I was a writer, I was a reader, my nose in Ramona, Nancy Drew and Anne with an E, since before I can remember. I still consider myself a reader first – both because reading is always enjoyable, (while writing not so much,) and because writers have to be readers in order to be any good at what we do. You wouldn’t trust a Chef who doesn’t eat, would you?

So, every year, for work (HA!) and for pleasure, I stuff myself with as many books as I can. In 2017, during my first year of my MA, I planned to read 36 books, and read 46 instead. When I made my goal for 2018, I kept the fact that I was still going to be a student for the whole thing in mind, and made my goal 48. I made it.

Some of the books I read in 2018.

Titles I Read in 2018:
(I bolded the ones I think you can’t miss)

  1. 42nd Parallel – J. Dos Passos
  2. An American Marriage – T. Jones
  3. As I Lay Dying – W. Faulkner
  4. Blood Meridian – C. McCarthy
  5. Cane – J. Toomer
  6. Charleston – M.B. Thornton
  7. Country Dark – C. Offut
  8. Coyote Songs – G. Iglesias
  9. Cross Her Heart – S. Pinborough
  10. Fair and Tender Ladies – L. Smith
  11. Feast of Snakes – H. Crews
  12. Gods of Howl Mountain – T. Brown
  13. Goodbye, Vitamin – R. Khong
  14. Gradle Bird – J.C. Sasser
  15. History of Wolves – E. Fridlund
  16. In the House of the Wilderness – C. Dodd White
  17. Jesus’ Son – D. Johnson
  18. Lethal White – R. Galbraith
  19. Macon – R. Page
  20. Maranatha Road – H. Bell Adams
  21. Nothing Gold Can Stay – R. Rash
  22. One Day in December – J. Silver
  23. One Foot in Eden – R. Rash
  24. One Good Mama Bone – B. McClain
  25. Our Kind of Cruelty – A. Hall
  26. Rivers – M. Farris Smith
  27. Running Out – D. Essinger
  28. Saints at the River – R. Rash
  29. Shrill – L. West
  30. Small Treasons – M. Powell
  31. Southernmost – S. House
  32. Station Eleven – E. St. John Mandel
  33. Sunburn – L. Lippman
  34. Swimming Lessons – C. Fuller
  35. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – J. Le Carre
  36. The Coal Tattoo – S. House
  37. The Fighter – M. Farris Smith
  38. The Line That Held Us – D. Joy
  39. The Lying Game – R. Ware
  40. The Mars Room – R. Kushner
  41. The Patron Saint of Ugly – M. Manilla
  42. The River of Kings – T. Brown
  43. The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn
  44. Trash – D. Allison
  45. Two Girls Down – L. Luna
  46. What You’re Getting Wrong About Appalachia – E.  Catte
  47. When Katie Met Cassidy – C. Perri
  48. Zero Saints – G. Iglesias

Writing book reviews feels like school work. So instead:
Books that have stuck with me:

– A History of Wolves: I still think about the plot of this novel a lot. It’s horrific in that mundane way that will make you look sideways at all your neighbors and wonder what is really going on behind their doors.
– Coyote Songs: This book will break your heart. It makes me wish that I wrote stories about more important things. All of my “sad girl” stories feel very ‘first world problem’ after this, and it has made me wonder if I’m just really not that deep. Definitely the most important book I read this year, and it possibly has caused an existential crisis.
– The Line That Held Us: David Joy is one of my favorites, and he’s only getting better. This story’s antagonist is one of the most interesting/complicated I’ve read in a long time. Plus – nods to O’Connor and McCarthy, what could be better?

Repeated Authors: You’ll notice that I read a lot of Ron Rash, Michael Farris Smith, Taylor Brown, Silas House and Gabino Iglesias this year. These are books that I really enjoyed and got me digging around for more work from these terrific authors.

Read More Women: There are a lot of terrific male writers in my genre. This year I worked hard to read more Appalachian/Southern Fiction written by women and I found Heather Bell Adams, Bren McClain, and J.C. Sasser and I couldn’t be happier. They are all debut authors, and I can’t wait for their next books.

I’m planning to read 60 books in 2019 and I’m thrilled. For 2019 I’m going to continue to read more female authors – I’m aiming for 2 of every 3, and I’d like to read more by authors of color, from the LGBTQ community and books from indie publishers.

Do you have a plan to read in 2019? Or a book suggestion? Drop me a comment and tell me about it!