Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
I've always been a big reader and I'm a firm believer that reading is key to being a successful writer. I've spent a good portion of my life in school. I went from high school straight to college and then straight to graduate school. During these years I read plenty and had a clear way to account for that reading. Since leaving grad school, I've read, but I haven't done a good job of keeping track of what I've read.
In 2011, I made an effort to change that. I made a reading list of books I wanted to read (29 of them). I read most of them. I also read a lot of books not on the list. In the end I read 43 books between mid-December last year and mid-December this year. I think this is pretty good for having a full-time job and spending a lot of my free time on my own writing and poetry career. I enjoyed keeping a clear list of the books I read and I thought I'd share it here on my blog.
Here are the books I spent my year reading. What did you read?
1. What Other Choice by Jeremy Halinen
2. The Book of Frank by CAConrad
3. Slut Machine by Shane Allison
4. Handmade Love by Julie R. Enszer
5. Museum of False Starts by Chip Livingston
6. Pleasure by Brian Teare
7. The Salt Ecstasies by James L. White
8. Come on All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder
9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
11. Talking About Movies with Jesus by David Kirby
12. I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill and Girl by Karyna McGlynn
13. The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn
14. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
16. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
17. Road Work Ahead by Raymond Luczak
18. Inheritance by Steven Reigns
19. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
20. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
21. Blood Almanac by Sandy Longhorn
22. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
23. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
24. Boy with Flowers by Ely Shipley
25. Closer by Christopher Stephen Soden
26. Slow to Burn by Collin Kelley
27. A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Time Dlugos edited by David Trinidad
28. A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters by Julian Barnes
29. Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
30. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
31. Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems by David Trinidad
32. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
33. The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert
34. Beloved by Toni Morrison
35. The Best of It by Kay Ryan
36. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
37. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
38. The Weary World Rejoices by Steve Fellner
39. Fat Girl by Jessie Carty
40. When the Only Light is Fire by Saeed Jones
41. Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert
42. Collective Brightness edited by Kevin Simmonds
43. Nox by Anne Carson
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
This post is devoted to briefly writing about my favorite novels I read. None of these books were published in 2011, but I read them for the first time this year.
1. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
I love Faulkner, but had never read this novel by him and I'm so glad that I did. It's a quick read and one that highlights a family on a nearly impossible journey to bury their wife/mother. As I've stated before, I'm a huge Modernist. I've studied that period more than any other and Faulkner is one of the greatest American examples of Modernism. The internal struggles he captures is flawless and truly gets at the human condition.
2. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Two of my friends (who sometimes have different tastes) highly recommended this book to me, so I put it on my list. As a Midwesterner myself, I quickly fell into this novel and the characters it so carefully describes. Some aspects cut a little close to home and gave me that wonderful uncomfortable feeling that good literature can create. In the end, the book is a terribly sad, but real look at what happens to us all as we grow older. Franzen's writing is sharp and entertaining. It's actually somewhat a Christmas novel, but not very cheerful. It's also getting made into an HBO series, which is greatly intriguing.
3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This book perhaps surprised me more than any other on the list. This is partly because I didn't really know what to expect. A good friend of mine recommended I read it and it sounded intriguing, but I was really blown away by the writing and style of the book. It's a super quick read. I read it in one day. The story is told from the perspective of a 15-year-old autistic boy investigating the murder of his neighbor's poodle. I actually hate stories where dogs die, so it's really a testament to this book that I loved it so much. If I ever teach a fiction workshop, I would use this book to discuss voice. A strange fact about the book is that it is sold as a children's book in the UK and as an adult book here (I think that speaks for itself).
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison
I totally forgot how much I love Toni Morrison. I've read a few of her other novels and Song of Solomon is one of my all-time favorite novels, yet I was still so wowed by Beloved. Morrison's use of language is truly unbeatable in contemporary literature. She really is the poet's fiction writer. She writes about such horrific events and tragedies, yet her language is beautiful, moving, and often overwhelming.
5. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
I'll be honest: I rarely read a novel if I've seen the movie version first. I typically like to read the book first and then see the movie. In the case of Revolutionary Road, I saw the film first and just this year read the book. I'm so glad that I did. I had mixed feelings about the movie. I love Kate Winslet, but overall I felt something was missing from that film and the ending didn't feel believable to me. I didn't have any of those issues with the novel and the ending is the same. The novel is amazing. It's such a great exploration of the choices we make in life and how we often trap ourselves. As in most cases, the book out-shined the film.