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What I Read in 2016

I read a good amount this year yet never seemed to actually get started on reading the authors I always mean to get around to, e.g. Toni Morrison, John Williams, Elena Ferrante, Javier Marias, etc., etc. As such, I’ll be doing my best to read through those authors’ works in 2017, starting with The Bluest Eye. I had to reread a good number of books for the British Literature class I started teaching this year, and I was heartened to find that the same classics that overwhelmed me in college, like Hamlet or Frankenstein, still did the same a few years later. I did finally get around to reading Kazuo Ishiguro, long on my TR pile, and yes, he was everything he was hyped to be. I read a good amount of Marilynne Robinson, finishing out the Gilead Trilogy and starting in on her non-fiction as well. (I’m saving Housekeeping for last.) To be honest, though, I spent a good amount of 2016 thinking about A Little Life, which I finished at the end of 2016 and has surprisingly stuck with me over the past 12 months, even calling for a reread every now and then. There were other revelatory (in the case of Robinson, this adjective is not really hyperbolic) reading experiences of mine, which I’ll signify below using an arbitrary rating system of mine. Anyways, here’s what I read, with re-reads marked, from most recent and then backwards in time . . .

43. Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett (!!)
42. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi (.)
41. Station Eleven* – Emily St. John Mandel  (!!)
40. Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood (.)
39. Lila – Marilynne Robinson (!!!)
38. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (!!)
37. The Nix – Nathan Hill (.)
36. What Belongs to You – Garth Greenwell (!!!)
35. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson (!)
34. The Fire This Time – Jesmyn Ward, et al. (!)
33. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson (!!!!!)
32. Grendel – John Gardner (!!!)
31. Beowulf* – Seamus Heaney (!)
30. Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious – David Dark (!)
29. Zona – Geoff Dyer (!)
28. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini (!!)
27. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (!!!)
26. The Hatred of Poetry – Ben Lerner (!)
25. The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell (.)
24. Moon Over Taylor’s Ridge – Janie Dempsey Watts (.)
23. A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami (!)
22. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (.)
21. The Metamorphosis* – Franz Kafka (!!)
20. So Sad Today – Melissa Broder (!)
19. M Train  – Patti Smith (!!)
18. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth – Warsan Shire (!!)
17. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (!)
16. Moods – Yoel Hoffman (.)
15. The Red Parts – Maggie Nelson (!)
14. Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine (!!!)
13. Life on Mars – Tracy K. Smith (!!!)
12. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini (.)
11. Survival in Auschwitz – Primo Levi (!!!)
10. Childhood – Jona Oberski (!!)
9. The Toughest Indian in the World – Sherman Alexie (!!)
8. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (!)
7. A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest J. Gaines (.)
6. Speak – Louisa Hall (.)
5. Omensetter’s Luck – William H. Gass (!!!!!)
4. Home – Marilynne Robinson (!!!)
3. One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway – Asne Seierstad (!)
2. Satin Island – Tom McCarthy (.)
1. The Givenness of Things: Essays – Marilynne Robinson (!!!)

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