While most of my life I’ve been interested in long narratives that I could really live inside, something about the overall vibes of 2015 got me into a mood to dip in and out of multiple stories, and/or to get in and out quick. After years of side-eyeing books of short stories without ever really diving in, I finally spent some real time with them. I fell in love with Amelia Gray’s Gutshot; I started many Sunday mornings trying to work my brain out of a hangover, opening to a random page and reading a very short story very slowly. At AWP, I stopped at the booth for the Austin-based indie press A Strange Object and picked up Nicholas Grider’s Misadventure after hearing Grider had written a piece that was a catalogue of ex-lovers. “Formers (An Index)” is my favorite story in the book.
My brain was also primed for poetry this year and I finally picked up Dorothea Lasky’s Thunderbird, which contains my favorite contemporary poem “Why It Is a Black Life” (the text of which I framed and hung in my closet). I discovered the poem right next to it in Thunderbird, “The World Doesn’t Care,” excites me just as much. I read the two poems out loud to myself dozens of times this year; they always steadied me.
At a few points during 2015, strong voices pulled me in for longer periods of time. Jeremy Bushnell’s The Weirdness was the best straight-up novel I read all year and I loved Leon Neyfakh’s The Next Next Level, an examination of what looking at another person can make us learn about ourselves.
Most of the rest of the books I read this year contributed to my ongoing project of trying to figure out how to live as a difficult woman by reading about difficult women. I’m no closer to answers but I read well: Kate Zambreno’s chapbook Apoplexia, Toxic Shock, and Toilet Bowl: Some Notes On Why I Write, Amelia Morris’s memoir Bon Appétempt: A Coming-of-Age Story, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Chelsea Hodson’s Pity the Animal, reality TV star Courtney Robertson’s I Didn’t Come Here To Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality TV Villain, Lili Anolik’s dark teen girl mystery Dark Rooms, Eve Babitz’s Eve’s Hollywood, and Carrie Brownstein’s new memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.
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