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So far since January 2012:

Alexie, Sherman: Indian Killer

Adams, Douglas: The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Bender, Aimee: Willful Creatures; The Particular Sadness of Wedding Cake

Black, Robin: If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This Stories

Booker, Christopher: The Seven Basic Plots

Brockmeier, Christopher: The Brief History of the Dead; The Illumination

Cain, Susan: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Chappell, Fred: I Am One of You Forever

Chase, Richard: Jack Tales Folk Tales from the Southern Appalachians

Cheever, Susan: Louisa May Alcott

Chernow, Ron: Washington A Life; Alexander Hamilton

Erdrich, Louise: Love Medicine; Tracks

Gardner, John: The Art of Fiction; The Sunlight Dialogues

Gottschall, Johnathan: The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Holmes, David L.: The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

Kafka: The Metamorphasis

Kennedy, Thomas: The Book of Angels; Unreal City Stories

Kincaid, Nanci: Pretending the Bed is a Raft

Larson, Eric: In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Le Guin, Ursula: The Language of the Night Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy

Marquez, Gabriel: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Morris, Keith Lee: Call It What You Want

Oschner, Gina: The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight

Robinson, Marilynne: Gilead

Rose, Frank: The Art of Immersion How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories

Rhys, Jean: The Wide Sargasso Sea

Sanders, Scott Russell: Wilderness Plots: Tales about the Settlement of the American Land

Strayed, Cheryl: Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Strout, Elizabeth: Olive Kitteridge

Walburt, Kate: Our Kind

Edited by CherylR

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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  • 1 month later...

Chappell, Fred: I Am One of You Forever

I read this in college and loved it. I still vividly remember some of the images it evoked. It's been a while though so I'm not sure what I would think of it if I read it today. What did you think?

I liked it. I like the cadence of the language, and the way the writer uses that cadence and concrete details to create the strong images. I read it for my critical paper, looking at the way fact and tall tale are interwoven into a story, as though all aspects were true. My favorite story is The Beard--the story where Uncle Gurton and his legendary beard come to visit. No one knows how long it is, because he keeps it hidden behind his bib overalls. The narrator and his father are determined to find out how long it is---and they do--sort of. smile.png

Edited by CherylR

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I'm very glad I decided to keep track of my reading this year. It has been motivational to see how much progress I could make in a year, and it has also helped direct my reading a little more. Ever since leaving graduate school, my reading has been somewhat ... well, directionless.

Also:

1) It has convinced me how woefully lacking my reading really is. There are too many books that I've very much wanted to add to this list, but haven't been able to yet. As the fall and winter begins, I'm going to delight in including a few of them. My reading progress is also painfully slow. I have collected mutlipe bookshelves (with must read classics) that I have yet to even touch.

2) It has convinced me that my reading is painfully slanted to the modern day. In 2012, except for regular Scripture reading, I've read NOTHING from the 1800s, the 1700s, the 1600s or anywhere before that. It looks even worse when I realized that, out of 53 books so far this year, I've only read eight that were written before 1950. This does not exhibit the reading habits that I want to cultivate. Reading works written only in the present is not the reading habit of an educated person.

3) Looking the list over, I also really need to start adding both more poetry, more theology and more history to my regular reading.

I should have been tracking my reading like this years ago. It helps to actually pay attention.

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I should have been tracking my reading like this years ago. It helps to actually pay attention.

I totally agree. This is the first year I challenged myself to read a certain number of books and also the first year I've kept track of my reading. And seeing my list there in black and white is forcing me to come to similar conclusions about changes I need to make next year. More x, less y, etc.

I've also benefited from setting a goal to read a certain number of books. On the downside, sometimes I push myself to finish a book quickly so I can check it off the list, but on the upside, I've read more books this year (and enjoyed more books this year) than any year previous. I need the goal or I won't get it done. I'm the kind of reader that reads half a book and puts it back on the shelf (my shelves looks like graveyards with little bookmarks and scraps of paper sticking out the top of most of the books). A reading plan has given me some structure to help me avoid that this year.

Another thing that helped me was reading Alan Jacobs' The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (which I'd highly recommend to everyone) because it's helped me know when to walk away from a book and when to keep going with one (spoiler alert, if the book isn't giving you pleasure in some way, drop it, there are only so many books one can read in a lifetime). But Jacobs gives some very helpful points about the pursuit of pleasure in reading. He doesn't intend for us to read only popular stuff simply because it gives us pleasure (but don't feel guilty about reading popular works), but he tries to teach us how to find pleasure in literature and how to let that guide our reading, to be led by an intentional Whim rather than a mere whim.

Edited by Gavin Breeden
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Good observations, Jeremy and Gavin.

This is also the first year where I challenged myself to meet a certain goal and keep track, and I'm glad I've done so. It's also showing me that, yes, I do read an incredibly eclectic mix of things. (I guess this means I'm educated!)

As for your comments on Jacobs's book (which I have in my "to read soon" queue), Gavin, I'm also glad I've been reading more pulpy works and not feeling bad about it. Again, as you mention, reading junk is bad, but some of the "junk" is way better than the Sam Tanenhauses of the world will ever realize.

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Good observations, Jeremy and Gavin.

This is also the first year where I challenged myself to meet a certain goal and keep track, and I'm glad I've done so. It's also showing me that, yes, I do read an incredibly eclectic mix of things. (I guess this means I'm educated!)

As for your comments on Jacobs's book (which I have in my "to read soon" queue), Gavin, I'm also glad I've been reading more pulpy works and not feeling bad about it. Again, as you mention, reading junk is bad, but some of the "junk" is way better than the Sam Tanenhauses of the world will ever realize.

I hope I haven't misstated things (I went back and tried to soften the language a bit), Jacobs doesn't think reading popular junk is bad at all (earlier this year he wrote a great defense of Stephen King for The Atlantic), but he DOES kindly suggest that we don't limit ourselves to only a diet of popular junk. Moreover, Jacobs is absolutely opposed to developing "literary canons" a la Howard Bloom and he takes a few swipes at Bloom in the book. Anyway, I completely agree with what you wrote, Jason, I just wanted to make sure I hadn't misrepresented Jacobs' point. I've actually felt more inclined towards reading from the "genre" shelves of horror, mystery, western, etc., since reading Jacobs' book. I used to feel kinda guilty reading popular works, thinking I should be reading "The Brothers Karamazov" right now, what's wrong with me?, but Jacobs has liberated me from that sort of "read only from the canon" mindset.

By the way, I'm not blasting King by calling him popular junk (maybe "junk" is too harsh a word to use here). I really appreciate Stephen King and many other popular writers and I wish they received more recognition by the literary establishment for their work. Certainly, there's a difference between Under the Dome and Gilead, but I think that anyone who limits themselves to only "popular" stuff or to only "literary" stuff is perhaps not as well-rounded a reader as they could be. Which is definitely what I'm striving to be.

What's really interesting to me right now in the world of books is that we're starting to see this hard line between literary and popular/genre start to dissolve. As fiction writer and critic Lev Grossman noted back in May:

I think this is a point that novelists have been picking up on, of late. Blue-chip literary writers — finding that after years of deprivation under the modernist regime their stores of plot devices are sadly depleted — have been frantically borrowing from genre fiction, which is where plot has been safely stockpiled for all these decades... Cormac McCarthy now writes about serial killers and post-apocalyptic worlds. Michael Chabon writes about alternate realities and hard-boiled detectives. Philip Roth writes alternate history. Kazuo Ishiguro writes about clones. Colson Whitehead writes about zombies. Kate Atkinson writes mysteries. Jennifer Egan writes science fiction, as does Haruki Murakami (and as did David Foster Wallace). And on and on. (The borrowing happens the other way, too: writers like Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Catherynne Valente, John Green, Susanna Clarke, Richard Price and China Miéville, to name a very few, are gleefully importing literary techniques into genre novels, to marvelous effect.)... These days, I find, literary novelists are much more interested in plot and much less interested in plausibility, or in realism, than literary critics are.

Perhaps we need a thread to discuss this phenomena (if there's not one already). Anyway, it's certainly an exciting time to be a reader.

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I hope I haven't misstated things (I went back and tried to soften the language a bit), Jacobs doesn't think reading popular junk is bad at all (earlier this year he wrote a great defense of Stephen King for The Atlantic), but he DOES kindly suggest that we don't limit ourselves to only a diet of popular junk. Moreover, Jacobs is absolutely opposed to developing "literary canons" a la Howard Bloom and he takes a few swipes at Bloom in the book. Anyway, I completely agree with what you wrote, Jason, I just wanted to make sure I hadn't misrepresented Jacobs' point. I've actually felt more inclined towards reading from the "genre" shelves of horror, mystery, western, etc., since reading Jacobs' book. I used to feel kinda guilty reading popular works, thinking I should be reading "The Brothers Karamazov" right now, what's wrong with me?, but Jacobs has liberated me from that sort of "read only from the canon" mindset.

Oh, no, you didn't misrepresent him, and I agree with you (and him). I was basically just agreeing with you in my usual, opaque way.

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  • 1 month later...

As of late:

Home by Marilynne Robinson

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

The Lady of Arlington: The Life of Mrs. Robert E. Lee by John Perry

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie

Juliet in August by Dianne Warren

The Yellow Birds ranks up there with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I originally borrowed it from the library, but have since ordered a copy of my own so I can highlight it and stick it full of post-it flags. :) Usually, I don't read war stories, but I'm glad I've read both O'Brien's & Powers' books.

'tis nice to be done w/ school (except for graduating residency) and be able to read what I want. smile.png The biggest drawback--I won't be able to justify buying approx. 14 books every semester. I may go into withdrawal. smile.png

Edited by CherylR

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT

http://whythewritingworks.com

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  • 11 months later...

This is beyond self-indulgent, but here is my list from 2011. Please be gentle. 2011 releases in bold. For what its worth, none were read in December, as I spent that month picking up OT hours and watching Breaking Bad.

John Williams: Stoner

You probably aren't monitoring A&F today and won't respond quickly enough to affect my choice, but The Millions has pointed out that this ebook is available today only for $1.99. I think I'll buy it based on reputation alone, but I confess that until that Millions tweet, I don't think I'd ever heard of Stoner.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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