This year, I impressed myself. Not only did I hit my low goal of reading 12 books, to match what I read last year, but I tripled my total—36 books read!
View the full list of books I read this year on my new tumblr page!
Growing up, I never considered myself a reader. I read assigned books for school and all of the Harry Potters, but that was basically it. I rarely read for fun. A few years ago, I realized I wanted to be a reader, but I never put energy toward it before. I'd walk into a bookstore and get anxious and intimidated because I had no idea where to start. Should I start with classics? Books I missed over the past several years? Bestseller list? Self-help? A few times, felt like the bookshelves were towering over me, I'd get tears in my eyes ,and I'd have to leave the store. To cope, I started slowly with self-help books recommended by friends. I started with Daring Greatly by Brene Brown in 2014 while I was recovering from my third surgery. The next year I read a few more books on creativity and minimalism.
At the beginning of 2016 I slipped into a small depression. I had just quit calligraphy and desperately needed a new hobby: something fun to throw myself into—a distraction from my lack of a creative outlet and a way to learn instead of spending countless hours watching tv on my couch (even though I did a fair share of that too). I picked up ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. My biggest lesson from that book was to "follow your curiosity, not your passion." So, I did. I went to the bookstore and decided to pick up anything I was curious about. That day, it was a giant stack of literary magazines that seemed way outside my comfort zone. I opened each one, read the editor’s letters, and left the store with 3. I carried this curiosity throughout the year and read 12 books. I'd never read that many books in a year and I was thrilled!
In 2017, I set the goal to read 12 books again—I thought maybe 2016 was a fluke and I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. With the confidence to read whatever I wanted, I completed my goal by mid-July.I had a stack of essays and feminism to start with. I knew I wanted to read more fiction and I wanted to start reading comics again. Reading this year has been fun, enlightening, and inspiring. Each book sparked an idea to jot down. Even though I didn't publish any of my writing on my blog, I took a lot of notes and hope to share more writing next year.
My favorites books I read in 2017:
- Abandon Me by Melissa Febos. Easily my favorite book I read this year. These memoirs gutted me, and I mean that as the highest compliment. Her writing and storytelling is breathtaking. I took notes the whole time; each essay would spark something new to jot down. The essay ‘Labyrinths’ hit me so hard, I nearly forced the book into my boyfriend’s hands to read it so we could discuss.
- Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion. How the hell did I make this this long as a writer without being exposed to the delightful work of our queen, Joan Didion? This is a must read for any person who writes or loves essays. I recommend reading this book slowly—one per sitting for maximum reflecting.
- On Tyranny by Timothy Synder. This is required reading from 2017. He likens our current political climate to the rise of historical tyranny and gives indicators for what we should be aware of in an easily digestible list of 20.
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book was everywhere this year because of the narrative’s relevancy and the new Hulu show starring Elizabeth Moss. I read the book before watching the show (because books > tv shows/movies), and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed that the book goes deeper into the mind of the main character, Offred. You won’t want to put this book down. I binge-read most of it on a Saturday.
- Bluets by Maggie Nelson. I had no idea what to expect from a book about blue, but Nelson’s poetic and profound writing captured me immediately. Each thought flows into the next and just when I thought I was in the same headspace, she was exploring something new. I checked this out from the library, but loved it so much I just bought myself a copy for a second read.
Honorable mentions: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong, A Darker Shade of Magic (series) by V.E. Schwab, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, and the graphic novel series, ‘Paper Girls’ and ‘Saga’ by Brian K. Vaughn
If you're curious about any of these books, please connect with me on Instagram! I love to chat about books and swap recommendations. If you read any of these, I'd love to hear your thoughts! I'm Colore Lincoln on GoodReads—let's be friends!