2017: A Year in Reading

I’m desperately bad at keeping this personal site filled with useful things. However, after reading Roxane Gay’s 2017 reading list, I felt inspired to do the same. I’ve tried to make clever categories, or just useful ones, whenever possible, but there are a great many sitting towards the bottom and in longer categories still worth your time. I didn’t read too many awful things this year (I generally just stop reading them in the middle), so I haven’t made a tiered ranking system for those, but I’m happy to offer up some personal suggestions if you get in touch with me via Twitter. To the writers (if any of you are reading this) thanks for all the great work.

Favorite book of the year

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Numbers two and three

Barbarian Days by William Finnegan

Judas by Amos Oz

Series I tore through and now anxiously await for the final book

The Kingkiller Chronicles (The Slow Regard of Silent Things, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Name of the Wind) by Patrick Rothfuss

The horror I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish (and then still kept me up)

The Fisherman by John Langan

Favorite history book (and a favorite nonfiction, in general)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

Book whose vast detail should’ve pained me, but instead got me thoroughly invested

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Dense academic book I couldn’t stop reading

The Long Shadow by David Reynolds

Favorite writing about writing

The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers by Terry McDonell

Proof genre is a silly distinction for people to make

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

The Vorrh by Brian Catling

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Books perfectly (if occasionally unfortunately) appropriate for the times

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

American War by Omar El Akkad

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Classics I finally got around to reading

Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire

Alternating Current by Octavio Paz

The Dubliners by James Joyce

Selected Poems: 1966-1987 by Seamus Heaney

Disappointments (fiction and nonfiction)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Worst figure of speech award

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Obligatory re-read

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Reading for articles (not including innumerable academic papers, essays, articles, etc.)

Bring Out the Dog by Will Mackin

Gambling and War by Justin Conrad

You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

Youngblood by Matt Gallagher

Consequence by Eric Fair

Unknown Soldiers by Neil Hanson

The Long Walk by Brian Castner

The Road Ahead by Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner

Terminal Lance: The White Donkey by Maximilian Uriarte

War Porn by Roy Scranton

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Retire the Colors by Dario DiBattista

War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite

Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackerman

Reading for book research

The Hundred Years War: A People’s History by David Green

Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas

Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte

Eye-Deep in Hell: Trench Warfare in World War I by John Ellis

Honorable mentions (i.e. ones I don’t have anything novel or clever to say about, but still want to single out)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

American Originality by Louise Gluck

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Art of the Publisher by Roberto Calasso

Road Fever by Tim Cahill

The rest (Many of which are still fantastic!)

The Reporter’s Kitchen by Jane Kramer

The Best of Richard Matheson

In the Not Quite Dark by Dana Johnson

Someone by Alice McDermott

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Radicals by Ryan McIlvain

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami

The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson

To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate

The Kingdom and the Power by Gay Talese

Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

The Vanishing Velazquez by Laura Cumming

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The Vegetarian by Kang Han

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

Fen by Daisy Johnson

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank

1984 by George Orwell

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

A History of Histories by J.W. Burrow

The Art of Intelligence by Henry A. Crumpton

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Purple Decades by Tom Wolfe

The President’s Book of Secrets by David Priess

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

The Dead Hand by David E. Hoffman

The Code Book by Simon Singh

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Grunt by Mary Roach

The Georgetown Set by Gregg Herken

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

God’s Middle Finger by Richard Grant