I always feel like I’ve never read enough.
These are the covers of the 30 books I completed reading in 2017, though some I may have started the year before. Some of the books are important. Some of them are fun. Some are both.
The standouts include Exit West and its brilliant combination of political migration and speculative possibilities of quick-escape doorways that become hotly contested spaces; the betrayals in Commonwealth, how they span decades and are given new life in their telling; the build-up in Citizen of a culture of micro-aggressions that contextualizes state-sanctioned killings of black men and women; the multitude of voices that make up Lincoln in the Bardo; the depth of compassion and empathy—the sheer humanity—on nearly every page of The Spare Room; the quick, street-smart flow and banter of the kids in Shadowshaper; and the inside scoop of how a bar in a dying Chicago neighborhood operates in North and Central.
My favorite? Not really sure. It was almost Kate Atkinson’s God in Ruins—I really liked all those characters and family history and dynamics—but then I reached the end and — spoiler alert – how it is all presented as being imagined. A total “it was a dream” ending, though much grimmer. Still not sure if that makes it more poignant or if it just makes me feel more manipulated.
These books, though, aren’t close to all I’ve read in the past year.
One of my favorite poems—“Epiphany” by S.E. Venart— was something I read online.
Also online: Twitter Threads, which seem to be new in 2017, and can function as a kind of essay.
An author asked to write something she doesn’t believe in:
Reactions to John Ashberry’s final poem:
A real take on what Jesus means:
And then there were the mashups with W.C. Williams’ poem “This is just to say”
Here’s the original:
This Is Just to SayI have eatenthe plumsthat were inthe iceboxand whichyou were probablysavingfor breakfastForgive methey were deliciousso sweetand so cold
On grading papers:
On a conservative pundit’s weird tweet about being single and dying alone:
On the seven words forbidden at the CDC:
What were some of your favorite reads of 2017?