My 2021 Reading List

It’s been almost 8 months since my last blog post here. I’m afraid a lot of my plans for this space escaped me as the year rushed by. Probably the biggest reason for this is because of the role I accepted as an editor for EastOver Press and EOP’s literary journal Cutleaf. In our first year, we published 23 bi-weekly issues of the journal. We also published 4 wonderful books of poetry that I’m really proud of. (See the links below to purchase EOP books and others!) This new position as an editor requires a lot of reading, and so my list of published books I read last year (2021) isn’t quite as robust as I’d like. But I love seeing other people’s what-I’ve-read lists, so here’s mine.

  1. Julia Cameron – Finding Water
  2. Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
  3. Wesley Browne – Spoon (manuscript)
  4. Jennifer Stewart Miller – Thief
  5. Haruki Murakami – After Dark
  6. Jay McCoy – The Occupation
  7. Britton Shurley – Spinning the Vast Fantastic
  8. Matthew Landrum – Berlin Poems
  9. Katrin Ottarsdóttir – Are There Copper Pipes in Heaven
  10. Chaelee Dalton – Mother Tongue
  11. Frank Jamison – Marginal Notes
  12. Daniel Corrie – For the Future
  13. Jesse Donaldson – On Homesickness
  14. Matt Urmy – The Rain in the Bell
  15. Liz Ahl – Beginning Ballroom Dance
  16. Cathryn Hankla – Galaxies
  17. Erica Anderson-Senter – Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism
  18. Ralph Sneeden – Surface Fugue
  19. Rosemary Royston – Second Sight
  20. John Davis, Jr. – The Places That Hold
  21. Marie Parsons – An Echo in the Wind
  22. Katherine Hauswirth – The Book of Noticing
  23. Larry Pike – Even in the Slums of Providence
  24. A.E. Hines – Any Dumb Animal
  25. Tarn Wilson – In Praise of Inadequate Gifts
  26. Ross Gay – The Book of Delights
  27. Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse
  28. Megan Culhane Galbraith – The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book
  29. Sylvia Woods – What We Take With Us
  30. Lauren Davis – The Missing Ones
  31. Ralph Sneeden – Evidence of the Journey
  32. Shawna Kay Rodenberg – Kin: A Memoir

I’d like to think that my list for next year will be at least twice this long. And maybe it will be. But it really doesn’t matter. These days, I’m trying to be more comfortable with the idea of slowing down the process. What this means to me is sometimes reading fewer books, but giving more time to think about and engage with each one.

If you’ve posted your own 2021 list or have recommendations for what to read in 2022, please post links and ideas in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year!

My 2018 Reading List

I love to read, but I struggle constantly with my own expectations of how and what to read and specifically with how much to read. The struggle comes to a head about this time of year when I look back and make some kind of judgment about how I spent my limited time and energy. For 2018, I ended up reading 52 books, obviously, an average of one per week, although it wasn’t paced out that way at all.

Dorie and Book Shelf
Seen here, my cat Dorie picks out her next book to read.

Does it matter? Does the number of books I’ve read make me a better person? Does it make me a better writer? There’s some science to back up both possibilities. But more importantly, I enjoy reading. I love a book that captures me with its language and its characters, and yeah, a great narrative helps too.

Two of the books I loved the most this past year are Jacob Shores-Arguello’s In the Absence of Clocks and John Brandon’s Further Joy. Neither writer was familiar to me when I came across their work in magazines. Arguello’s poetry was found in The New Yorker, and I found a short story by Brandon in Oxford American. Both journal pieces blew me away. I felt so lucky to discover that each had books that were as thoroughly good as their individual publications.

Here’s the list of all 52 books I read this year. I’d love to see what you read in 2018. And I’d love to year which books were your favorites and which ones will stick with you.

1. Russell Banks – A Permanent Member of the Family
2. Virgil – Eclogues
3. Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way
4. Laura Hunter – Beloved Mother
5. Elaine Fletcher Chapman – Hunger For Salt
6. Jacob Shores-Arguello – In the Absence of Clocks
7. Michael Dowdy – Urbilly
8. Eric Shonkwiler – Moon Up, Past Full
9. William Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice
10. Marie Howe – What the Living Do
11. Robert Pinsky – At the Foundling Hospital (Feb)
12. William Shakespeare – As You Like It
13. Marie Howe – The Good Thief
14. Jacob Shores-Arguello – Paraiso
15. Madeline Ffitch – Valparaiso, Round the Horn
16. Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge – Poemcrazy
17. Todd Boss – Tough Luck: Poems
18. Walt Whitman – Song of Myself (Mar)
19. Marc Harshman – Believe What You Can
20. Rita Quillen – The Mad Farmer’s Wife
21. Linda Parsons Marion – This Shaky Earth
22. Greg Wrenn – Centaur
23. John Brandon – Further Joy
24. John Lane – Anthropocene Blues
25. Larry Thacker – Drifting in Awe
26. Rachel Danielle Peterson – A Girl’s A Gun
27. Michael Knight – The Holiday Season
28. Jia Oak Baker – Well Enough to Travel
29. James M. Gifford – Jesse Stuart, Immortal Kentuckian
30. Manuel Gonzales – The Miniature Wife
31. Sharon Kay Penman – Falls the Shadow
32. Crystal Wilkinson – The Birds of Opulence
33. James Herriot – All Things Wise and Wonderful
34. Ottessa Moshfegh – My Year of Rest and Relaxation
35. Rowling, Tiffany & Thorne – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
36. William Glasser – Choice Theory
37. James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small
38. Sylvia Lynch – Jack Lord: An Acting Life
39. Kevin Fitton – Dropping Ballast (manuscript)
40. Jane Smiley – A Thousand Acres
41. Stephen Mitchell – Gilgamesh
42. C.D. Wright – One with Others
43. Kevin Canty – Into the Great Wide Open
44. George Eliot – Silas Marner
45. Michael Kardos – The Three-Day Affair
46. Christopher Smith – Salamanders of the Silk Road
47. Grant Faulkner, Lynn Mundell, Beret Olsen – Nothing Short of 100
48. Maureen Seaton – Fisher
49. Amy D. Clark – Success in Hill Country
50. Langston Hughes – Let America Be America Again and other poems
51. Cassie Pruyn – Lena
52. Kathryn Stripling Byer – Catching Light