95 Books

I did the #95books challenge again this year and only just squeaked by, making it to 96 by the skin of my teeth on December 31, 2016 with Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker. This was the right book to end the year with and I will read it again. (Side note from this feminist killjoy: the TSA searched my carry on bag because of dubious shapes inside. What they found was this pair of books and they offered no explanation about why books (BOOKS!) triggered a nine minute search. They assured me it wasn’t the titles.)img_1814

For those of you who don’t know, #95books was started by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Ball as a “no way!” reaction to Karl Rove’s claim that George Dubya Bush read 95 books in 2006 while holding the office of the presidency. Read about the impetus and the guidelines here.

I’m a fast reader but factor in a hectic spring of book tours, the US government shocker, ongoing and disturbing CanLit debates, and a new Netflix account: by September I had only read 45 titles. That was a wake up call. But binge watching Netflix got me thinking about narrative arcs and serialization in a new way in terms of poetry vs prose. That will be an essay, perhaps.)

My biggest problem in this year’s attempt, aside from mental space, was sourcing the books – it’s impractical to buy them all, difficult to get them from the library and borrowing from friends is a scheduling headache for returns. I really do read more if I have a book literally in my hand or on my body at all times. This year I will begin holding #95book swaps where we each show up with a dozen books, document the swapper-swappee and go home with book bags filled with enough titles to keep the motors churning for three months or so.

I used a simple Excel sheet, the same one as last year that Nikki Reimer shared with me. I don’t know Excel well but appreciate the automatically generated pie charts. Below the charts I list the book titles. The first pie is the genre breakdown. No surprises here.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-4-30-09-pm

While I did read more diversely than last year I am still surprised by the tallies in my reading. As I mentioned, I read 96 titles, 60% by self-identifying women, 37% by self-identifying men, 2% non binary and 1% co authored.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-26-39-pm

The next two charts below are irritating. I would like to reverse the percentages this year and read more authors in the blue. Clearly, I am missing out on a lot. Side note: Ayelet Tsabari write a 2015 blog post about reading only writers of colour for a year. You can read it here.



This last chart is less riveting but fun to consider: US vs Canadian. It probably skews Canadian because I live in Vancouver and am friends with so many local writers. I derive a deep pleasure from reading my friends’ books.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-25-22-pm

I only read two books in Spanish. But I did watch the entire two seasons of Narcos without subtitles!

Here are the books I read in 2016. As before, rereading the list pulls me right back into definite moments of the past year. What a lovely trick!

1 Blood, Bones & Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton
2 15 Dogs – Andre Alexis
3 Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon
4 Red Star Tattoo – Sonja Larsen
5 Mare – Mary Gaitskill
6 What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund
7 Alongside- Anne Compton
8  Careen – Carolyn Smart
9 Livelihood- Phoebe MacAdams
10 Mend the Living -Maylis de Kerangal
Translated by Jessica Moore
11 Come on All You Ghosts – Mathew Zapruder
12 Ignite – Kevin Spenst
13 The Heaviness of Things That Float – Jennifer Manuel
14 The Dirty Knees of Prayer – Timothy Shay
15 Waiting Room – Jennifer Zilm
16 Oscar of Between – Betsy Warland
17 Angle of Yaw – Ben Lerner
18 Skeena – Sarah de Leeuw
19 dream/arteries – Phinder Dulai
20 Meditatio Placentae – Monty Reid
21 New Index for Predicting Catastrophes- Madhur Anand
22 Conflict – Christine McNair
23 Model Disciple – Michael Prior
24 Players – John Nyman
25 Kids in Triage – Kilby Smith-McGregor
26 The Hypnotists – Gordon Korman
27 Islands of Decolonial Love – Leanne Simpson
28 Flood Song – Sherwin Bitsui
29 Thou – Aisha Sasha John
30 Wild Horses – Rob McLennan
31 Ceremony of Touching – Karen Shklanka
32 Phantom Noise – Brian Turner
33 On Motherlines, Sex, Blood, Loss and Selfies – Margaret Christakos
34 Poemw – Anne Fleming
35 The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
36 100 Days – Juliane Okot Bitek
37 Injun – Jordan Abel
38 Shrill – Lindy West
39 Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
40 How to Cook a Wolf – MFK Fisher
41 There Devil, Eat That – Jonarno Lawson
42 Buoyancy Control – Adrienne Gruber
43 The Shoe Boy – Duncan McCue
44 Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes
45 A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
46 Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
47 Double Teenage – Joni Murphy
48 Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
49 All the Gold Hurts My Mouth – Katherine Leyton
50 Even Birds Leave the World – Ji-Woo Hwang
51 Winter- Adam Gopnik
52 The Red Files – Lisa Bird-Wilson
53 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman
54 I, Bificus – Bif Naked
55 Crush – Richard Siken
56 Reading Sveva – Daphne Marlatt
57 Everyone I Love is a Stranger to Someone – Annelyse Gelman
58 a book of variations- zygal-art facts – bpNichol
59 Love Me Back – Merritt Tierce
60 Throw the Captain Overboard – Mia Rose Brooks
61 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write- Sarah Ruhl
62 God Loves Hair – Vivek Shraya
63 SuperMutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki
64 Impact – Billeh Nickerson
65 Living Things – Matt Rader
66 somewhere to run from – Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
67 Ban en Banlieue – Bhanu Kapil
68 The Predicament of Or – Shani Mootoo
69 The Waves – Virginia Woolf
70 Odes- Sharon Olds
71 Day and Night – Dorothy Livesay
72 Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antartic Names – Soraya Peerbaye
73 Tell – Soraya Peerbaye
74 Gingersnap – Patricia Reilly Giff
75 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg
76 Tumour – Evelyn Lau
77 Tuco – Brian Brett
78 Twenty Seven Stings – Julie Emerson
79 Scree- Fred Wah
80 Deconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
81 Flying Finish – Dick Francis
82 Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe – Sandra Gulland
83 Undermajordomo Minor- Patrick DeWitt
84 Repeater – Andrew McEwan
85 Water Stair – John Pass
86 Night Vision – Christopher Levenson
87 The Remedy – Zena Sharman
88 Yiddish for Pirates – Gary Barwin
89 Witness – Karen Hesse
90 Papelucho y el Marciano – Marcela Paz
91 En el Ala del Mosquito – Emilio Mozo
92 Slick Reckoning – Ken Belford
93 Dear Oxygen – Lewis MacAdams
94 Wild Horses – Dick Francis
95 The Sellout- Paul Beatty
96 Notes from a Feminist Killjoy – Erin Wunker

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