95 Books

I saw people using the hashtag #95books throughout 2015 and was unsure what they were doing until I saw them posting lists of books they read thought the year. Jonathan Ball and Ryan Fitzpatrick devised the project – you can read about the why and the how here. I had been keeping a list of my own reading for years but had never tabulated it, or thought about it in terms of quotas. I began tracking my reading, hoping to read more than 95 books in one calendar year.

I’m a fast reader but wasn’t sure how much time I was spending reading online. I wondered if I could keep up, if it would change my habits, what my lit diet would look like at the end of the year. In high school Bio we had to carry around a jar for a day and put the exact amount of what we ate during 24 hours into the jar. Nothing like a visual!

Here is my first tabulated list. Below it, thanks to Nikki Reimer, are pie charts. Nikki sent me the excel sheet that automatically charted the stats.

I read 108 books, all in English. 56 books are by women and 46 by men. How does that work? Some of the books had two authors. As a CWILA member who has laboriously counted the gender divide in Canadian publishing, this skew towards women pleases me.

I read 38 fiction books, 45 poetry books, 23 non-fiction books, two short fiction and one graphic novel.Elee s 95Books genre-page-00125 of the authors self-identify as people of colour, 70 as non-p.o.c., 11 as indigenous and 70 as non-indigenous.

Elee s 95Books race-page-00158 authors on my list are Canadian. 48 are from the US. Eight authors are from outside North America.

Elee s 95Books nationality-page-00170 identify as heterosexual and only 16 as LGBTQ. 15 don’t identify in their books/bios and I didn’t want to search through other sources to find out.

Elee s 95Books sexual identity-page-001

Here are the titles I read. Some I read for a second time. I was not fastidious about my annotation and may have missed some. After all the tabulating and counting I can say I am much more interested in the chain of contact than in the numbers. What led me from one book to another? What threads knit the books together, if any? How did reading books back to back alter my experience of the texts?

Would I have focussed on certain aspects if I had not been preoccupied by that topic in a previous text? How do the novels I read my son at bedtime have so much to do with contemporary poetics? Or do they at all? Maybe I am only noticing synchronicities and similarities because of proximity.

What it boils down to is Borgesian: the texts exists as a record of who I was at the moment of reading. Rereading this list below is the same as flipping through the pages of a journal. I remember where and who I was via the handwriting, in this case, of another author.

1.     Teach Us to Sit Still – Tim Parks
2.     A Measure’s Hush – Anne Coray
3.     Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
4.     Devil in Deerskins – Anahareo
5.     She of the Mountains – Vivek Shraya
6.     The Things I Heard About You – Alex Leslie
7.     Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
8.     All The Way – Jordin Tootoo
9.     Burqa of Skin- Nelly Arcan, transl Melissa Bull
10.  Outer Harbour – Wayde Compton
11.  Downverse- Nikki Reimer
12.  Red.Doc> – Anne Carson
13.  The Tales – Jessica Bozek
14.  Place of Scraps – Jordan Abel
15.  Us Conductors – Sean Michaels
16.  School – Jen Currin
17.  Good Humour Man – Richard McAllistair
18.  The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife – Joan Kane
19.  In the Dog House – Wanda John-Kehewin
20.  The Lightning Field – Heather Jessup
21.  Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
22.  Island of Wings – Karin Altenberg
23.  How Should a Person Be- Sheila Heti
24.  My Tender Matador – Pedro Lemebel
25.  When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid
26.  Foreign Gods Inc – Okey Ndibe
27.  Fielder’s Choice – Elise Partridge
28.  My Feelings – Nick Flynn
29.  What to Eat,What to Drink,What to Leave for Poison – Camille Dungy
30.  The Jaguar’s Children – John Vaillant
31.  Living at the Movies- Jim Carroll
32.  Lit- Mary Karr
33.  The Possible Past – Aislinn Hunter
34.  Pedal- Chelsea Rooney
35.  Journeywoman – Kate Braid
36.  Gender Failure – Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote
37.  The Exiles’ Gallery – Elise Partridge
38.  If I fall, If I die- Michael Christie
39.  Sharps – Stevie Howell
40.  Peeling Rambutan- Gillian Sze
41.  Grow Up- Ben Brooks
42.  Blind Huber – Nick Flynn
43.  The Island: Shipwreck – Gordon Korman
44.  The Island: Survival – Gordon Korman
45.  Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned-Wells Tower
46.  Days of Abandonment-Elena Ferrante
47.  Where the Nights Are Twice as Long- David Eso, Jeanetter Lynes
48.  Taxidermy Art
49.  Transmitter and Receiver – Raoul Fernandes
50.  Ink as Blood-Page as Bone – Jonina Kirton
51.  In the Light of What We Know -Zia Haider Rahman
52.  The Road in is Not the Same Road Out – Karen Solie
53.  Kidnapped – Gordon Korman
54.  Field Notes of the Alpine Tundra- Elena Johnson
55.  Asbestos Heights – Dave McGimpsey
56.  Where My Body Begins – Amber Dawn
57.  Jabbering with Bing Bong – Kevin Spenst
58.  Rue – Melissa Bull
59.  Foreign Park – Jeff Steudel
60.  Get Me Out of Here – Sachiko Murakami
61.  Fugitive Factor- Gordon Korman
62.  Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell
63.  The Chronology of Water – Lidia Yuknavitch
64.  I Loved You More – Tom Spanbauer
65.  On the Water- Nat Stone
66.  The New Testament – Jericho Brown
67.  Intensive Care – Alan Twigg
68.  Stay Still – Sally Mann
69.  Six Filipino Poets-Leonard Casper ed
70.  Everest -Ascent -Gordon Korman
71.  Exquisite Monsters- K.I.Press
72.  Prides Crossing – Peggy Miller Franck
73.  Suck on the Marrow – Camille Dungy
74.  The Infatuations – Javier María
75.  Decider – Dick Francis
76.  The House in the Sky – Amanda Lindout,Sara Corbett
77.  The House of the Scorpion- Nancy Farmer
78.  1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
79.  Heat – Bill Buford
80.  Yes, Chef – Marcus Samuelsson
81.  The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry – Kathleen Flinn
82.  Dead Cert- Dick Francis
83.  The Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
84.  Short Haul Engine – Karen Solie
85.  Medicine Walk- Richard Wagamese
86.  Wood- Jennica Harper
87.  You Exist. Details Follow – Stuart Ross
88.  Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes-Jane Eaton Hamilton
89.  Wild Horses- Rob McLennan
90.  Bonsai Love- Diane Tucker
91.  Dear Leader – Damian Rogers
92.  The Small Backs of Children – Lidia Yuknavitch
93.  The Disarmed Heart – Susan McCaslin
94.  Martin John – Anakana Schofield
95.  Blindfold- John Asfour
96.  Immigrants in Our Own Land – Jimmy Santiago Baca
97.  Twoism- Ali Blythe
98.  A Really Good Brown Girl -Marilyn Dumont
99.  Solomon Gursky – Mordechai Richler
100.                 No Sweeter Fat – Nancy Pagh
101.                 Dogs at the Perimeter – Madeleine Thien
102.                 Certainty – Madeleine Thien
103.                 Bourne Supremacy – Robert Ludlum
104.                 Good to a Fault-Marina Endicott
105.                 Thread of Grace- Mary Doria Russell
106.                 Chelsea Girls- Eileen Myles
107.                 House of the Scorpion- Nancy Farmer
108.                 Kiss of the Fur Queen – Tomson Highway

Tonight I open a new file. Tomorrow I crack a stack of books from Pulp Fiction I bought today with gift certificates from my December birthday. It’s a bit like unfolding a map.

Thank you to Jonathan and Ryan for this excellent trip. Thank you to all the authors who wrote these books and to the readers and writers who shared their lists along the way. Those #95book check-ins were just like postcards. It was nice to know where you were!

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