Saturday, 30 December 2017

My Year in Books: 2017

Here are the books I read this year, some of them accompanied by my notes or reviews on Goodreads (linked). My overall top 5 (on the list in blue):

1. Zoe Whittall - Bottle Rocket Hearts (re-read) (4/5)
2. Carson McCullers - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (2/5)
3. Lorraine Carpenter - The Dears: Lost in the Plot (4/5)
4. Jessa Crispin - The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries (4/5)
5. Véronique Grenier - Hiroshimoi (3/5)
6. Lisa McInerney - The Glorious Heresies (3/5)
7. Sabahattin Ali - Madonna in a Fur Coat (4/5)
8. Leopoldine Core - When Watched: Stories (4/5)
9. Vickie Gendreau - Testament (3/5)
10. Rasha Abbas - Die Erfindung der deutschen Grammatik (2/5)
11. Ottessa Moshfegh - Eileen (4/5)
12. Elaine N. Aron - The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You (2/5)
13. Nikesh Shukla - The Good Immigrant (4/5)
14. Édouard Louis - En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (4/5)
15. Sophia Amoruso - #GIRLBOSS (3/5)
16. Elliott Holt - You Are One of Them (4/5)
17. Chloe Aridjis - Book of Clouds (2/5)
18. Ruby Tandoh & Leah Pritchard - Do What You Want (4/5)
19. Lauren Sapala - The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type (5/5)
20. Pajtim Statovci - My Cat Yugoslavia (5/5)
21. Fleur Jaeggy - Die seligen Jahre der Züchtigung (4/5)
22. Anita Brookner - Latecomers (4/5)
23. Claudia Larochelle - Je veux une maison faite de sorties de secours: Réflexions sur la vie et l'œuvre de Nelly Arcan (4/5)
24. John Darnielle - Universal Harvester (2/5)
25. Otegha Uwagba - Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women (3/5)
26. Virginie Despentes - Apocalypse bébé (4/5)
27. Young-Ha Kim - I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (2/5)
28. Anna Stothard - The Museum of Cathy (3/5)
29. Fatma Aydemir - Ellbogen (4/5)
30. Stéphanie Neveu & Laurent Turcot - Vivre et survive à Montréal au 21è siècle (3/5)
31. Melissa Broder - So Sad Today: Personal Essays (2/5)
32. Ali Eskandarian - Golden Years (3/5)
33. Briohny Doyle - Adult Fantasy: Searching for True Maturity in an Age of Mortgages, Marriages, and Other Adult Milestones (4/5)
34. J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye (re-read) (4/5)
35. Fiona Mozley - Elmet (4/5)
36. Roxane Gay - Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (5/5)
37. Susan Sontag - Reborn: Early Diaries 1947-1963 (4/5)
38. Meg Cabot - The Boy is Back (2/5)
39. Marie Luise Lehner - Fliegenpilze aus Kork (3/5)
40. Doree Shafrir - Startup (4/5)
41. Kate Tempest - Hold Your Own (3/5)
42. Ali Smith - Autumn (3/5)

This was the year I allowed myself to put books down. There were ones that I didn't particularly like but that I still kept at because they were short, or because they were so bad I couldn't tear myself away. Those are the ones with low ratings that still made it into this list. However, the ones that were just plain dull, or that I didn't have the energy to carry on with, were another story (hehe), and I put them down pretty quickly.

Example: towards the end of the year there were a couple of books in German that I started, that I liked the premise of, but forcing myself to continue reading them would have been an act of self-flagellation that would have only weakened my will to read anything in German ever again.
To be clear, these weren't tomes of Sturm und Drang, but modern literature and also factual-yet-informal books. I'm speaking German for 6+ hours a day now; as a result, it can be hard to admit that reading in it is sometimes not actually particularly conducive to relaxation and pleasure. And as a translator, regular exposure to English prose is crucial, otherwise you end up producing Denglisch sludge.

I decided not to do a Goodreads challenge in 2017, and in fact, I ended up reading just one book fewer than in 2016. I've been thinking a little bit about how I actually find out about new reads, and it goes something like this:
Passively - Twitter (I follow and am exposed to a lot of authors and publishing people.)
Semi-passively - Goodreads (I see what friends are reading, and for most books there is an if-you-liked-this feature.)
Actively - Lithub, Hazlitt (It's rare I'm really searching for something new, as my to-read list is already miles long. But if I just want to hit that literary spot, I go onto one of these sites, where I'm sure to find out about interesting authors who are new to me.)

All in all, this is some good advice: 'Don’t read anything you don’t want to read. Stop trying to impress the imaginary literary masses with your reading lists. There isn’t time.'