reading

I am a poor churchgoer in the religion of keeping track of what I read. I found that although I made this page with the intent of keeping track of my reading, I was not particularly good at making a note of it on a regular basis (see the list below for my earlier, and incomplete, attempt). I want to try to mark here what I do read or what is in progress, as a way of reminding myself and as a general schematic of where my interest has been. Notes occasionally (when I feel like it/when I’m not being lazy).

Most of the books read between July 2012 and April 2014 came from the very well-stocked public library in Ghent. Most of the books from January 2016 onwards were bought using funds from my NEA Fellowship in Literature.

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Ongoing:
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville (begun Jan 2016)
The Three-Cornered World, Natsume Soseki (begun Jan 2016)
Staging the Archive, Ernst van Alphen (begun Feb 2016)
The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito…, C.D. Wright (begun July 2016)
Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, Michel Foucault (began July 2013, rebegun fall 2016)

February 2017:
Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, Brenda Hillman
Blackacre, Monica Youn
Hardly War, Don Mee Choi
Stay, Illusion, Lucie Brock-Broido (++)
Negroland, Margo Jefferson
It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
The Gift of Good Land, Wendell Berry
Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko

January 2017:
Anthology, Simone Weil (ed. Sian Miles)
The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser
Caring for Dying People of Different Faiths, Rabbi Julia Neuberger

October 2016:
Proxies, Brian Blanchfield—is under my skin in a good way
The Art Lover, Carole Maso—moved me to tears, very affirming for my writing
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf—amazing, can’t believe it took me so long to allow myself to read it

September 2016:
Raptus, Joanna Klink
H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald—really amazing
Counternarratives, John Keene
Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit—this is great
Several issues of the New Yorker
A Necklace of Words: Short Fiction by Mexican Women
, ed. Agosín and Hall

August 2016:
Under the Sign of Saturn, Susan Sontag
Two issues of the New Yorker

July 2016:
Terror, Toby Martinez de las Rivas — one of the best books I have read in years, absolutely a thing in itself
Three issues of the New Yorker
The Narrow Road to the Interior,
Kimiko Hahn (reread)

June 2016:
Several issues of the New Yorker
Night Sky with Exit Wounds
, Ocean Vuong
Translations, Brian Friel (amazing) (and very useful for 1873)
Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay (very good)
The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, Chika Sagawa, tr. Sawako Nakayasu

May 2016:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and other Travel Sketches, Bashō
The Pillow Book, Sei Shōnagon
Illocality, Joseph Massey
Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis (really important book I think)
Several issues of the New Yorker

March 2016:
The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante
Approx. six issues of the New Yorker
Bordering Fires
, ed. Christina García

February 2016:
Poetry, December 2015 issue
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante
Several issues of the New Yorker
We’ll Always Have Paris, Emma Beddington

January 2016:
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, Kathryn Davis
The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante — Enjoyed as much as the first one.
Five issues of the New Yorker

December 2015:
Poetry, November 2015 issue
Several issues of The New Yorker
Doctor Glas, Hjalmar Söderberg
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante — a perfect and perfectly compelling novel.
How to be Both, Ali Smith — very good, a good followup to the Ferrante, although very different in scale and accomplishment—in completeness. I felt this novel was in part about incompletion.

November 2015:
Poetry, October and September 2015 issues
Red Epic, Joshua Clover
Who Look At Me, June Jordan

October 2015:
Several issues of the New Yorker

September 2015:
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, Alice Walker
Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici
Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes
Three issues of the New Yorker

June 2015:
The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire
Theory for Art History, Jae Emerling
The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Bhanu Kapil

May 2015:
The Eternal City, Kathleen Graber
Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Glück
The Logan Notebooks, Rebecca Lindenberg
On Being Blue, William Gass

April 2015:
Garments Against Women, Anne Boyer
Living in the Love Economy, Patricia Spears Jones
Love: An Index, Rebecca Lindenberg

March 2015:
White Girls, Hilton Als (incredible)
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (for teaching)

February 2015:
Provence, 1970, Luke Barr (fluffy and a little dull, and did that weird thing of ‘novelizing’ biography)
Miniatures, Norah Labiner (huge, complex, manic. I’m still not sure whether it is genius or sloppiness.)

January 2015:
Eight Girls Taking Pictures, Whitney Otto (poor)
No Man’s Land: Essays, Eula Biss
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra
Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West, Wallace Stegner

October 2014:
Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson (reread)
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (reread)
We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo (reread)
Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson (reread)

September 2014:
Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, Ntozake Shange
Of Cities & Women (Letters to Fawwaz), Etel Adnan
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (reread)

August 2014:
Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada
Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Racculia

May-July 2014:
Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, Wallace Stegner
Austerlitz, W G Sebald
Lots of art books, lots of manuscripts
Léon & Louise, Alex Capus
A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (reread), Barthes
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
Voyager, Srikanth Reddy
Harper’s and Poetry and AGNI
Split, Cathy Linh Che
Ways of Seeing, John Berger
The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin
Fatal Interview, Edna St Vincent Millay
แล้ว and then entwine, Jai Arun Ravine
Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears, Tom Lutz
The Stranger, Albert Camus
…and probably others that I forgot, definitely things I read at the Little Poetry Library residency are not on this list. (When I make lists of names, as Édouard Levé wrote, I dread the ones that I forget. Or something close to that.)

April 2014:
Airmail: Letters, Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer, ed. Thomas R. Smith
The Master Letters, Lucie Brock-Broido
Place, Jorie Graham
The Game of Boxes, Catherine Barnett
The Cube of Space, Neele Dellschaft

March 2014:
The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka (amazing)
Ayako, volume 1, Osamu Tezuka (in French)
That which is not drawn: conversations, William Kentridge and Rosalind C. Morris (<3)
The Floating Man, Katharine Tower
White Egrets, Derek Walcott (stately, elegant, formal, and cold)
Drives, Leontia Flynn
Stag’s Leap, Sharon Olds (incredible, and I’ve never liked her work before)
Blue Nights, Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder (still my favorite play)

February 2014:
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo
Understanding a Photograph, John Berger
Japan & Belgium: Four Centuries of Exchange, ed. Van de Walle

January 2014:
The Art Forger, B.A. Shapiro (terrible!)
The Thin Place, Kathryn Davis (one of the most amazing novels I’ve read)
Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner
Kinshu, Teru Miyamoto
Hotel Iris, Yoko Ogawa
The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier (this was SO. BAD.)
Tenth of December, George Saunders (I loved four of the ten stories.)
Open City, Teju Cole (incredible)
After the Quake, Haruki Murakami (alas, I think this convinced me I only like early HM)
The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, Olivia Laing (needs its own post, maybe)

December 2013:
Italian Ways: On and off the rails from Milan to Palermo, Tim Parks
Jazz, Toni Morrison
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki (very good)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Nathan Englander
The Vagrants, Yiyun Li (amazing)
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami
LAMB, Bonnie Nadzam

November 2013:
The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk
The Ticking is the Bomb, Nick Flynn
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison
Burning Down the House, Charles Baxter

Somewhere in the interval between July and November, from what I recollect: Madness, Rack, and Honey, Mary Ruefle Self-portrait as Rumor and Blood, Rachelle Cruz I Am Your Sister, Audre Lorde Four or five New Yorkers Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund deWaal (I bought it in Seattle!) Abnormal, Michel Foucault …and probably a bunch of other things in part or whole, but there was all that travel, and then I kind of stopped paying attention. And stopped reading for a while.

July 2013:
Two issues of the New Yorker
The Intuitionist
, Colson Whitehead (and this is an AMAZING book)

June 2013:
Four issues of the New Yorker Wild, Cheryl Strayed

May 2013:
May We Shed These Human Bodies, Amber Sparks
The Writers’ Notebook I (Tin House)
Three issues of the New Yorker

April 2013:
The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht
“The Love of a Good Woman”, “Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage”, Alice Munro
Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil
Five issues of the New Yorker (thanks, Jon)
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver—what a disappointment.
the color of milk, Nell Leyshon
The Narrow Road to the Interior, Kimiko Hahn — * * * * *
A Plea for Eros
, Siri Hustvedt

(and here, somehow, the lineation got messed up and I am, again, too lazy to fix it.)

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March 2013: Completed: Men in the Off Hours, Anne Carson The Volcano Lover, Susan Sontag Love Invents Us, Amy Bloom Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto, Maile Chapman Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, Mark Doty NW, Zadie Smith Gods Without Men, Hari KunzruMs. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum Of Hospitality, Jacques Derrida A Village Life, Louise Glück History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason (disappointing in ways I didn’t even know could exist—from the skimpy, dull plot, to the quality of research, to the conservativism masquerading as dilettantism.) Breaking the Tongue, Vyvyane Loh Sempre Susan, Sigrid Nunez The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng

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February 2013: Completed: Coming to Writing and Other Essays, Hélène Cixous Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart Life and Death, Andrea Dworkin Century of Clouds, Bruce Boone The Affect Theory Reader, Melissa Gregg/Gregory Seigworth History, Advice, and Other Half-truths, Shana Youngdahl The New Yorker, Feb 11/18 2013 issue

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January 2013: Completed: Ahab’s Wife, Sena Jeter Naslund Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell HHhH, Laurent Binet Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil and In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders Ilustrado, Miguel Syjuco Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith Linen Handspinning and Weaving, Patricia Baines I Hotel, Karen Tei Yamashita Four issues of the New Yorker Paris Review no. 203

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December 2012: Completed: Chinoiserie, Karen Rigby The Whale in the Woods, Blueberry Morningsnow As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-1980, Susan Sontag Walking on Water, Derrick Jensen (reread) From A to X, John Berger Studies in Socialism: What is Yours and How to Get It, J.A. Waylund Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart Zeitoun, Dave Eggers Beyond Black, Hilary Mantel The Blue Book, A. L. Kennedy Seminar I: Freud’s Papers, Jacques Lacan How Should A Person Be?, Sheila Heti

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October 2012-November 2012: Completed:Reborn: Diaries, 1947-1963, Susan Sontag The Alphabet Not Unlike the World, Katrina Vandenberg Several back issues of The New Yorker The Paris Review no. 201 Lucky Girls, Nell Freudenberger Seminar XX, Jacques Lacan (woo.hoo.) Reading online: Roxane Gay’s tumblr Essays and interviews at The Rumpus Juliana Spahr’s poem here. A short story by Elizabeth Gilbert here. A poem by John Weiners here. This review and musing on second books by Lisa Russ Spaar.   * * * From July 21, 2010 until June 2012, for leisure (i.e., not for the PhD): * Why are our Pictures Puzzles? On the Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity (James Elkins) * Dancing at the Devil’s Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic (Alicia Ostriker) * The Life of Poetry (Muriel Ruykeyser) * The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson) * What is Found There: Essays on Poetry and Politics (Adrienne Rich) * The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) * Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo (Hayden Herrera) * A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (ed. Czeslaw Milosz) * High Water Mark: Prose Poems (David Shumate) * Life: A User’s Manual (George Perec) * Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (Giorgio Agamben) * Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) –I loved this. * Writers at Work/ The Paris Review Interviews (Third Series) (George Plimpton, ed.) * Ghost Machine (Ben Mirov) –This, too. * Scary, No Scary (Zachary Schomburg) –This, too, too. * If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (Italo Calvino) * Below Cold Mountain (Joseph Stroud) * How Proust Can Change Your Life (Alain de Botton)–now I really want to read Proust, which is why I bought this in the first place * The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (Fanny Howe) * Hickory Dickory Dock (Agatha Christie) * If I Die in a Combat Zone (Tim O’Brien) * The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (Fanny Howe) * The Art of Recklessness (Dean Young) –this was sadly disappointing; I found it poorly written and edited. * Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace) –I rescind any prior remarks about disliking DFW. I was too young or too stupid when I first read him. * On Lies, Secrets & Silence (Adrienne Rich) * If This is a Man & the Truce (Primo Levi) * The Art of Syntax (Ellen Bryant Voigt) * Bluets (Maggie Nelson) –five stars. * The Art of Description (Mark Doty) –the best one of the series so far * Moab is my Washpot (Stephen Fry) * Mr. Norris Changes Trains (Christopher Isherwood) –has made me interested in Berlin as a city * The Triggering Town (Richard Hugo) * Goodbye to Berlin (Christopher Isherwood) –* * * * * * The Gourmet (Muriel Barbery) –A disappointing second to The Elegance of the Hedgehog * The Behaviour of Moths(Poppy Adams) –Unfortunately dull * Nightwood (Djuna Barnes) * The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Milan Kundera) * The Turn of the Screw (Henry James) * Why I Write (George Orwell) * The Alchemist (Paulo Coehlo) * The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (Yann Martel) * All Their Worldly Goods (Irène Némirovsky) * In Cold Blood (Truman Capote) * The Wedding Day (Catherine Alliott) –I picked this up at a book exchange thinking it might be a light, Bridget-Jones-style summer read. It was so disgustingly sexist, racist, and classist I started making notes in it halfway through. A ‘how to be middle-class’ manual for British women sneakily hidden in novel form. * The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) –incredible novel, story AND structure * The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender) * Au Japon ceux qui s’aiment ne disent pas je t’aime (Elena Janvier)–I loved this * By Night in Chile (Roberto Bolaño)–This, too. It’s like Lolita in the way its language lulls you & then springs the story’s real darkness on you. * A Homemade Life (Molly Wizenberg) * The Lessons (Naomi Alderman) * After Dark (Haruki Murakami)–Sometime I will write about the love affair I’ve had with his books since I was fifteen years old. Reading this reminded me of how I felt when I first found him, and contributed to the homesickness I’m already experiencing for Japan. Also, it feels like a short story but happens in novel form. I thought that was interesting. * A Diary of the Plague Year (Daniel Defoe) * Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes (Billy Collins) –eh. * Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)–enjoyable but occasionally problematic * Meditations in an Emergency (Frank O’Hara)–title poem worth the price of admission * Kimono (Liza Dalby) * H****r: The F***** and the People (J. P. Stern) * The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (Martha Silano) * Chéri (Colette) * Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) * The Weight of All Things (Sandra Benitez) * The Godfather (Mario Puzo) * Aurora (Pura López-Colomé) * The Cost of Walking (Shannon Tharp) * One With Others [A Little Book of Her Days] (CD Wright) * Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work At 72 (Molly Peacock) * Waffles (Matthew Welton) * The Newlyweds (Nell Freudenberger) — really enjoyed this * The Photographer (Didier Lefèvre & Emmanuel Guibert) * Brick Lane (Monica Ali) * Five Fields (Gillian Clarke)