I loved college because 98% of my classes were about reading and writing. On the first day of a freshman year literature class, the professor asked us to write a biography of ourselves as readers - essentially, when and why did we fall in love with reading and what were some of the things we had read.
When he read my paper, the professor recognized that my love of books was profound. But he also recognized that I almost entirely read books authored by men, a fact that I had never realized (that’s how sneaky the patriarchy is). “Where are the women?” he asked.
Since then, the majority of my recreational reading has been written by women. I know authors are all on one big supportive team or something, but what can I say, I prefer the ladies.
That’s why I can’t believe the first book to make my 2012 list was written by a man, and a poet to boot.Crush, Richard Siken. Even if you’re not into poetry, you will be into this collection. Check it:
Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lakeand dress them in warm clothes again.How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses runninguntil they forget that they are horses.It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the dayswere bright red, and every time we kissed there was another appleto slice into pieces.
The Jessica Darling series, Megan McCafferty. Holy lord, these books are great. If at your high school you were the smart one, the cynical one, the outsider, the cautious rebel, then this series has your name all over it.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery. Oh the tears. I cried for a good fifteen minutes when I finished this book. If you’re searching for a book that will teach you philosophy and make you sob, here you go.
Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Megan Mayhew Bergman. These stories have all the best ingredients: conflicted women, animals, wilderness, and beautiful sentences. I read “Yesterday’s Whales” three times in a row, which also says a lot about my year.
Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison. Some human beings are evil and Dorothy Allison is a badass. The end.
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett. This is one of the only books I’ve been compelled to rate on Goodreads because I loved it so hard. I told everyone to read it and even mailed a copy to my sister. In the middle of reading, I had to stop and ask my boyfriend, “How is it possible that someone can be so good at writing?”
The Secret History, Donna Tartt. Somehow I had never heard of this book and learned about it thanks to the Lazy Book Reviewer. (Lazy, I know you’re busy at The Hairpin, but your blog was awesome. Please come back.) The Secret History is a very long but very fast read. It’s an incredibly well-written, highly acclaimed soap opera for aspiring classics nerds.
The Middlesteins, Jami Attenberg. I love the cover, I love the characters, I love how it made me laugh but also made me empathize with each individual’s struggles.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. Yes it’s true, everyone’s girl crush is now my girl crush. I could not put it down, halfway through I texted my reading pal Kerry to exclaim, “This is crazy!” and when I finished the only thing I wanted to pick up was Flynn’s other books. Sadly, my bookstore didn’t have them at the ready, but they’re on their way, certain to fill my life with more thrills and horror.
Illustration via We Heart It.