- Haiku Level: read 1 book of poetry or 20 poems
- Cinquain Level: Read 2 books of poetry, 40 poems
- Sonnet Level: Read 3 books of poetry, 60 poems
- Rondeau Level: Read 4 books of poetry, 80 poems
- Villanelle Level: Read 5-10 books of poetry, 100 poems
I never thought I would make a tally of books read this year until close to the end of the year. I am going to try to reconstruct it as best as I can. I have read a lot of poetry in various places. A lot. And for the purpose of this post, on the antepenultimate day of the year, I will not go into it.
My reading errors: I joined my first challenge–I just leapt into it—but it required reading a convoluted series of books set in different countries of various lengths and genres. I read 20 of them, and it took up almost two months of the year. Some of the books were interesting, but the assignments were such: “Read a book that’s over 600 pages long about Iran” or read a Steampunk book by a New Zealand author. I will never sign up for a challenge unless I see in advance that I might enjoy it. It was a team challenge, or I would have dropped out.
I have 55 books listed, but I know I read a few more. They were not memorable nor worthy of listing.
My top 5 books of the year were by Trollope, Sinclair Lewis, Nabokov, Ford Madox Ford, and John P. Marquand.
My top 5 new books were Ian McEwan’s Nutshell, Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, Brown’s The Boys in the Boat and the really delightful The Secret Lives of Bats by Merlin Tuttle (and he has a delightful name).
A couple of disappointments: The Girls, Outline, Pal Joey, All the Light We Cannot See, and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves.
The books I most recommend to those who are in an all-fiction rut:
$2.00 a Day, Between the World and Me, Listen Liberal, White-Trash, Evicted, and you need to read lots of poetry to make this world tolerable. Also if you want your news to come in a novel, please do read It Can’t Happen Here. So far all of it is chillingly accurate except that Buzz Windrip, the Trumpian figure, can manage to string a whole sentence together–bigly!
My resolve for 2017 is to read fewer new books and to not believe the hype. The New York Times will give a rave review to rank puerile nonsense; most adults will not stray from YA reading, and last Sunday’s book review allowed the comment that Jane Austen’s language in Pride and Prejudice is “archaic.” I will participate in challenges that are carefully selected.
I’ve also read:
Anthony Trollope: The Last Chronicle of Barset, The Autobiography, Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, An Eye for an Eye
Charles Dickens: Martin Chuzzlewit, The Chimes
Sinclair Lewis: Main Street, It Can’t Happen Here
John P. Marquand: The Late George Apley
Louis Auchincloss: The Rector of Justin
Ian McEwan: Nutshell
Zadie Smith: Swing Time
Ta-Nehesi Coates: Between the World and Me
Merlin Tuttle: The Secret Lives of Bats
Paul Kalnithi: When Breath Becomes Air
Edin and Shaefer: $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
Rachel Cusk: Outline
Julia D’Aprix Sweeney: The Nest
Emma Cline: The Girls
Nancy Isenberg: White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Matthew Desmond: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Anthony Doerr: All the Light We Cannot See
Simon Sebag-Montefiore: The Romanovs
Grace Metalious: Peyton Place (60th anniversary tribute read)
Louise Penny: A Trick of the Light, How the Light Gets In
Donna Leon: Suffer the Little Children
Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier
Jane Gardam: Old Filth, Bilgewater
Anne Tyler: Vinegar Girl
Agatha Christie: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Katherine Burkman: April Cruel
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Daniel James Brown: The Boys in the Boat
Deborah Cadbury: Princes at War
Matthew Kneale: English Passengers
John O’Hara: Pal Joey
Lucia Berlin: A Manual for Cleaning Women
Thomas Frank: Listen Liberal
Karen Joy Fowler; We Are Completely Beside Ourselves
Jie Li: Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life
Patrick Synnes: The Boys from Dolores: Fidel Castro’s Classmates from Revolution to Exile
Isaac Babel: Red Cavalry
Caroline De Robertis: Perla
Mark Bowden: Guests of the Ayatollah
James Herriot: All Creatures Great and Small
Ira Levin: The Boys from Brazil
Quin Monzo: Guadalajara
Zsuzsu Gartner: Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
Susan Fales-Hill: Imperfect Bliss
Caroline De Robertis: Perla
Nina Stibbe: Love, Nina
something by Lisa Scottoline