In 2010, for the first time in my life, I kept a list of all the books I read during the year. My husband Dan did too. We kept our lists in a small blank book we called “The Book of Books.”
Today I sat down to type up our lists, and I was struck by a few things:
First, no wonder our house and garden are such a mess. Clearly we spend all of our spare time reading.
Second, I’m impressed by the length and diversity of my husband’s reading list, especially as he’s a more-than-full-time working stiff. I’m especially impressed by how much contemporary fiction he reads. More than I do. A lot more. Honestly, if it weren’t for my book club, I wouldn’t have read much contemporary fiction at all this year.
Finally, I started reading poetry collections for the first time this year, and I wish I’d started earlier — like 20 years earlier. I’ll never live long enough now to have read enough poetry.
Our lists, in the order completed (ss=short stories; nf=non-fiction; p=poetry; g=graphic novel; unmarked=novels or plays). I could not resist the impulse to annotate a bit:
- The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (nf)
- The Bridegroom, Ha Jin (ss)
- Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahern (nf). Inspiring read for anyone considering or compelled to follow a gluten-free diet. But the recipes tend to be overly complicated.
- Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (nf-g)
- Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
- What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson. Martin’s a friend, and his book is an important contribution to YA literature. Plus, he’s adorable. Check out his blog here.
- Hamlet, William Shakespeare
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Empire Falls, Richard Russo
- The Seas, Samantha Hunt
- The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. An overly hyped book. Loved the premise, but in the end, I was disappointed.
- Petropolis, Anya Ulinich
- Agaat, Marlene Van Niekirk. Devastating, important novel.
- War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy. Maybe I need to try one of the more recent translations.
- The Best of It, Kay Ryan (p). Outstanding.
- Zaatar Diva, Suheir Hammad (p)
- Stuart Little, E. B. White
- Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
- The Blue Estuaries, Louise Bogan (p)
- Palestine, Joe Sacco (nf-g). Outstanding.
- Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese. Lovely writing, but it’s one of those books in which Providence is an uncredited main character. If you like that sort of thing, go for it. Me, not so much.
- Cry Out: Poets Protest the War, ed. Edward Morrow (p)
- The Complete Poems, Elizabeth Bishop (p)
- Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, Maile Meloy (ss)
- Permit Me Voyage, James Agee (p)
- The Tempest, William Shakespeare
- Firstborn: Poems, Louise Glück (p)
- The Book of Nightmares, Galway Kinnell (p)
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Always satisfying!
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling. Yeah, like you haven’t read it.
- O To Be a Dragon, Marianne Moore (p).
- The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays & Letters, Seneca; tr. Moses Hadas (nf). Turns out I’m not a Stoic. Surprise!
- Grace Notes, Rita Dove (p)
- The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, ed. Phillip Lopate (nf). Read a little almost every morning for six months. Like starting the day with dessert.
- Atlas of Unknowns, Tania James
Dan’s list (the comments are by Naomi)
- In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan (nf)
- Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahern (nf). One of only two books we both read this year.
- Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh
- When the Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin (nf)
- Rocket Science, Jay Lake
- Escapement, Jay Lake
- 1491, Charles Mann (nf)
- Gun, With Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem
- The Drunkard’s Walk, Leonard Mlodinow (nf)
- Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes
- The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat, Harry Harrison
- Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower (ss). One of Dan’s favorites of the year.
- Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene
- Everyday Psychokillers, Lucy Corin. Lucy’s a mentor and friend who writes beautiful, unsettling stuff. Check out her blog and work here.
- Probability Moon, Nancy Kress
- Emperor of the Air, Ethan Canin (ss)
- Overclocked, Cory Doctorow (ss)
- Love and Hydrogen, Jim Shepard (ss)
- Neuromancer, William Gibson
- Ragtime, E. L. Doctorow
- Dust, Elizabeth Bear
- Chill, Elizabeth Bear
- Gateway, Frederick Pohl
- Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Frederick Pohl
- Galveston, Nic Pizzolatto. Another favorite.
- Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, Reif Larsen
- Heechee Rendezvous, Frederick Pohl
- The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
- Freedom, Jonathan Franzen. I was so glad when Dan finished this. He bellyached all the way through.
- Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann. The other book we both read; I liked, Dan didn’t.
- The City and The City, China Mieville. Dan’s third favorite read of the year.
- Spook Country, William Gibson
- Zero History, William Gibson
- The Magicians, Lev Grossman