I never did a Reading2015 post for December, but I only read one book during the month, My Real Children by Jo Walton, which I consumed on Christmas day. I adored it. It’s the story of a woman who, in her old age, can remember living two distinctly different lives, stemming from a single choice in her youth. It’s an alternate history of alternate histories, with chapters alternating between two very different life courses that, in the end, ask you to make an impossible ethical and aesthetic judgement, what Ursula Le Guin on the back cover calls “a sort of super Sophie’s Choice.” I’m always a sucker for branching narrative, the way the space between the threads opens room for new resonances and emotions, just as a paper towel doubled over can absorb more than the same sheet applied flat. This book might just be my new go-to example of the form.
So here’s where that leaves my stats for 2015:
- 67 total books
- 35 prose books
- 32 graphic novels
- 26 women authors (writer or artist)
- 44 books authored or co-authored by women
- 33 male authors (writer or artist)
- 28 books authored or co-authored by men.
- Best month: September (12 books – all GNs)
- Worst month: December (1 book – prose)
As with last year, here the the books (not counting re-reads) that stand out in most my memory (which isn’t exactly the same thing exactly as how much I liked them):
- The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
- My Real Children by Jo Walton
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
- On Wings of Song by Thomas Disch
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
- The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
- Tenth of December by George Saunders
- Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
- Two Girls, Fat and Thin by Mary Gaitskill
- Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman
- Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
- The Wilds by Julia Elliott
- Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce
Some interesting things include the presence of only one graphic novel, despite the form making up nearly half of my reading. That’s largely due to my having re-read all of Dykes to Watch Out For, all of which were ineligible for this list. Another is which Mary Gaitskill book made the list. I think that in many ways the collection Because They Wanted To is the stronger of the two Gaitskill volumes I read this past year, but it’s her first novel my mind alights on more easily. And I can’t do anything about the wiring of memory, and what it may have to do with two books I read in just the last two month making my top 5.
It was my resolution for 2015 to read 100 books, and I fell short not just of that mark, but of my 2014 mark of 73 books read. I attribute this primarily to having started doing some work for television, which prompted me to massively increase my television watching. I would say the TV I’ve consumed, added to the hundreds of hours of Fallout 4 I played in November, is easily equal to 33 books. But since I don’t have any better ideas, I’m going to go ahead an roll over my 2015 resolution to 2016, and aim for 100 books read in the year to come.