Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Year in Reading -- 2016


It seems that I wasn’t really serious about my vow to watch more television. I still like to browse Netflix and I’m always adding things to my queue, but my viewing habits are not really habits at all. They are more like fits and starts. I work in a bookstore. I love books. I must since I am in the process of packing over two-thousand of my own books to move into our new abode. I have books that have outlasted my marriages and multiple moves across this ingrate nation of ours. Television just seems like a sugar rush with short lasting effects compared to the longevity of the written word.

Working a fulltime job and being a parent of a ten-year-old boy doesn’t leave me all that much time to pursue hobbies like reading, writing and supersymmetric string theory. I still probably read more than your average Joe, but not your average Josephine. Surveys consistently show that women read more than men and that’s just one of the reasons that they are smarter than men. The stereotypical male reader – if they read at all – will read Tom Clancy or John Grisham, but shy away from anything that might test their moral mettle or – heaven forbid! – cause them to do some research.

I haven’t made my annual reading goal since 2012! In the years since then I’ve learned to mix in a few graphic novels and children’s books to pad out the count. My goal this year is to finish 45 books before midnight on December 31st. I’m only competing with myself, so please…no wagering. I’m about a third of the way through a my 43rd book, which is a collection of short stories entitled Scary Old Sex by Arlene Heyman. She was a student of Bernard Malamud (The Natural.) It has a terrible title, but the stories are candid and memorable. My next two books will most likely be short books, novellas really, but they have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) so they still count as books.

So far, I’ve read two graphic novels: Incognegro by Mat Johnson and Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. I read one book of poetry: Why God is a Woman by Nin Andrews. I read two books for younger readers: The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah Plain and Tall) and Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. I read thirteen books of nonfiction, including a couple about religion, one about a beef slaughterhouse and three books about husbands who died (The Iceberg, When Breath Becomes Air and The Light of the World.) I also read three Shakespeare’s. No, wait. That wasn’t me.

It’s not like I need the encouragement to read though. Being well-read is one of my positive qualities and you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mister In-Between. It’s all on my permanent record somewhere. You can look it up. Now let me just say before I present my Top Ten Reads of 2016, that I have no intention of reading anything better than these ten (eleven) books listed below before the end of the year. Some titles on the list may be better than others, but they are in no particular order. And now without further ado:

Most top ten lists are limited to ten items, but this goes to eleven.
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam 
  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 
  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson 
  • White Rage by Carol Anderson 
  • Out of Sight by Erik Loomis 
  • Every Twelve Seconds by Timothy Pachirat 
  • Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume 
  • Strange Gods by Susan Jacoby 
  • Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans 
  • Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh 
  • Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

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