I thought since in 2017 in about 29 hours I would do a year end review of reading.
This week I finished two books, the outstanding and hilarious “The Importance of Being Ernest” by Ernest Cline **** and the good, if unneeded end to Colleen Hoover’s Slammed Series “This Girl.” ***
I am up to 73 books on Goodreads for the year, and I have probably re-read another dozen books or so, so let’s call it around 85.
Another neat picture, I wish I knew how to embed this. Includes my five star books highlighted.
Here are the five star Goodreads books I have read in 2016
1. The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe (re-read/essay):
I flew through this again for the fourth time or so on the train ride to NYC.
Then I went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw some of the art the critics loved so much.
I think some of it isn’t as lionized as it once was.
And I do happen to like abstract expressionism. I’m surprised how little sold.
I will say the 1960s floor of MOMA wasn’t close to as impressive as the 1890-1959 floor.
A book I really enjoy and I do think critics to a great extent did help create a lot of art. True in poetry in the post World War II era too I think. I’m glad poetry got spoken word to get out of overthought poetry by professors.
2. The Importance of Being Ernest by Ernest Cline (poetry):
I just flew through this one. I read most of it while laughing uproariously at a Chinese Buffet for Christmas with my family. So much fun and something I probably should have bought a while ago. I’ve loved “Geek Porn Auteur” and “Dance Monkeys Dance” for a long time and loved him novel “Ready Player One.”
He’s also part of the power poetry couple of geeky goofery with maybe my favorite modern poet the hilarious and awesome Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. I know he has moved on to novels but would love some more geeky poems. Great Christmas present!
3. How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir by Amber Dawn (poetry/memoir):
Beautiful, honest, raw writing. I think there are so many more great tales of sex workers out there.
I will admit to liking the prose more than the poetry but just outstanding. And amazingly honest.
… I feel like I should say more about this one. Great memoir can be magic.
4. The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James by Scott Raab (memoir/sports):
Amazing, crazy, profane book.
This goes into being Jewish, from Cleveland, addiction, madness and the odd loyalty of being a die hard sports fan.
I am a Philadelphia sports fan, and the Phillies winning a World Series made me happy, but I am happy that I am not this connected to sports.
It would just be so exhausting. Wonderful, crazy gonzo writing that isn’t everyone with lots of sexual references.
And the Decision really was one of the most bizarre and ridiculous sports shows ever.
I’m glad LeBron came back to Cleveland in 2004 and finally got the city a championship in 2016 from a 3-1 comeback.
I also highly recommend the ESPN #30For30 documentary “Believeland” which does include Scott Raab. The city really desperately needed a championship after all that heartbreak.
5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Race and whiteness themselves are strange concepts.
How is being white better?
Why does America think of itself as so exceptional?
Why do we allow such racist policing?
I really hope things get saner and better in our country. It has to happen. Things are bad now. But thete is so much wealth, and so many people want to make the world better. Powerful book.
… After Donald Trump is elected, I worry about these themes and questions even more.
6. MiXED NUTS or What I’ve Learned Practicing Psychotherapy by Rick Cormier
We need more therapists like Rick Cormier. Giving, humorous, and always trying to help their patients anyway they can.
I also gave it to my friend who is a new LCSW and a therapist and she was very impressed.
I love how grounded and relatable the stories are. Like the person with two clocks with rotating minutes who had to stop between the first and second clock every minute. Simple solution? Take one clock out of the room. Or using practicing deep breathing and lists to help people with panic attacks. Or that hypnosis can help people with their fears.
I will admit I have bipolar disorder and I haven’t found many therapists or psychiatrists I would like. Some are just their for diagnosis. A lot of therapists fall into the “well what do you think?” trap. I think I would like Rick Cormier.
.. He is a friend I knew from drum circles a bit in Maine and a heck of a nice guy and I am sure great therapist.
7. Love the Dog by Sharon Creech (not my first read/Children’s/Poetry):
Such a sweet little book. It’s not the first time I’ve read it.
Would love to see more book written with poems like this.
The only other author I can think of that does it is Ellen Hopkins.
8. Real Artists Have Day Jobs: (And Other Awesome Things They Don’t Teach You in School) by Sara Benincasa (Self-Help/Hilarious):
An absolutely fabulous book I expect to come bsck to again and again.
Great chapters about radical overconfidence, asking for exactly what you want, to stop apologizing, doing things anyway despite what you are bad at.
Making art like a kid. realizing artists have day jobs and are still artists etc.
I definitely need to get rid of stuff, be more confident and go for more things
The world needs more strong, hilarious women and we can all use the quote she uses from Sarah Hagl, “Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.”
… I have also gone through this again at least in pieces. Wonderful read.
And my book of the year goes to:
9. Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher (memoir/mental illness)
Brilliant book but very hard to read for me.
I have bipolar disorder as well and this brought me back to manias in the past.
It also makes me very happy for my relative stability. I didn’t have bulimia, alcoholism or workaholicism.
And I have been to the hospital three times, not many, many times.
All blessings to those living with major mental illness.
… Nothing has come close to me for what it feels like to be manic. Such a visceral book.
And besides re-reading “The Painted Word” and “Love That Dog” and putting them in my Goodreads for the year (neither was in it already) other five star re-reads include: “A Man Without A Country” by Kurt Vonnegut which I have re-read every year since I have bought it maybe 6-7 years ago. This review includes some quotes. My most read book this year the graphic novel “Daytripper” which I finally bought this year. The excellent graphic novel and the Ku Klux Klan and the blues “BB Wolf and the Three LPs” by JD Arnold.
It’s been a good year of reading. Two things that helped were having a patio table to read outside and just bring books outside and let the cellphone stay inside. And getting reading glasses, it makes a huge difference to just have +0.50 on my prescription so I can read the small print better, my guess is this goes up over the years. I am only 42 now.