When I was younger I loved to read and would go to great lengths to do so. I remember traveling alone to a very nice suburb near my inner-city apartment just to use their beautiful three-story library. I would take out 3-5 books at a time which I would read simultaneously (how?) before coming back to repeat the process in a few weeks. But since I’ve matured, my mind seems to be dwindling into nothing more than constant Instagram checks and fluff articles. I’ve been getting tired of reading articles on books, or even Wikipedia pages, but being too lazy to finish them when I buy them. So I made it a plan to read more in 2017 and while I could have done better, hope that I look back on this list with a little motivation and pride in the later months of 2018 as I (hopefully) grind through more books.
Though it’s a bit incomplete, here are some of my reads this year:
Novels, Novellas, and Memoirs:
Slaughterhouse Five – a classic by Kurt Vonnegut, there is something oddly touching about this displaced man. The softness of Billy Pilgrim coincides beautifully with the harshness of the worlds he travels through, while the narrator humorously presents it all. I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would and recommend it to everyone.
Eileen – Without spoiling anything, I would say that the end of the novel’s revelation about the father and son was a bit too dark, but that did not keep me from relating to the voice of this once-melancholic main character as she recounts herself at a weird time in her life and enjoying the wild ride. It’s as good as it is atmospheric and I’m dying to read more by Ottessa Moshfegh now.
Invisible Monsters – Say what you will about Chuck Palahniuk, but this book inspired many of the songs on Panic! At The Disco’s first album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” and its ridiculous, pill-induced plot simultaneously entertained me as well as fueled my emo renaissance.
Spy In The House of Love – A beautifully written, but ultimately, not very good book. In the words of a friend, “You don’t read the actual works of Anaïs Nin, dummy. You read her scathing letters and personal journals.”
Not Without Laughter – An era in black America I often have trouble picturing, Langston Hughes’ semi-autobiographical book is a great look at the black community in the early 20th century. The storyline is wrought with difficult relationships that felt very human in their senselessness. However, I found the ending was a little abrupt and all too cheery.
Bad Kid – Maybe the best thing I read in this category this year, David Crabb is hilariously funny while recounting his youth in the 80’s as a closeted gay and suburban goth (IN TEXAS, of all places). The early necessity of DIY tactics in alternative culture in combination with the pains of adolescence create a really endearing look at growing up Crabb. It’s as if John Hughes cast Robert Smith as the main character in Sixteen Candles, and I couldn’t get enough.
Poetry, Essays, and Collections of Short Stories:
Letting Go Is An Acquired Taste – A collection of poetry by Christina Hart that, while touching, didn’t end up resonating with me all that much.
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth – Technically a re-read, but Warsan Shire’s touching collection on otherness, culture, and love provides me a new heartache to latch onto every time I read it. It’s such beautiful work in comparison to most modern day poetry that often tries too hard or too little and always falls flat.
Live or Die – Anne Sexton is Anne Sexton and to me, that’s husky-voiced harsh realities that need to be said in the form of poetry.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem – An okay collection of essays on Joan Didion’s vanilla yogurt takes on life.
Woman Hollering Creek – Sandra Cisnero’s has been a favorite of mine since I read “The House on Mango Street” as a child. This women-centric collection of short stories provides heartfelt looks at all types of Mexican and Mexican-American women. The eponymously titled short story was my favorite and left me with the question, “When is the last time I just screamed?”
A Life of Adventure and Delight – Akhil Sharma’s collection of short stories shows various Indian men and women as they deal with the journey of life. Though I can’t say I culturally know very much about India, many of the stories were touching in a way that transcended beyond culture or religion and focused on roots of human emotion that are deep within everyone. The stories which made me think about the longing, fear, guilt, and learning resonated with me a lot longer than I expected.
Motor Crush (Vol 1.) – A colorful and beautifully drawn comic about a black, gay, female motocrosser who is potentially a cyborg. I found it as bad ass as I did fascinating and also have a long-standing infatuation with Image Comics.
Snotgirl (Vol. 1) – Another Image Comics release. Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, who also wrote the Scott Pilgrim series, Snotgirl is about an L.A. fashion blogger and her desperate wish to keep up appearances. The art is fantastic and the characters are oddly charming in their un-likability.
Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought!
P.S. I know I am officially two posts beind of my resolution! Hoping to make it up this week 🙂
Best wishes and bisous,