2019 saw the release of my debut novel, and it was the year I read only about half the books I usually get through in a year—I spent a lot of time sitting and staring in silence, filled with various forms of anxiety, and maybe talking out loud to myself.
Nevertheless, I began the year with The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwartz-Bart, and several things about this book are still haunting me. Same for Savage Conversations by LeAnne Howe, which is possible to read in one sitting.
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead, and wondered why nobody had ever recommended this book to me before. It would have brought me much joy and relief during those G.W. Bush years. (Also, does Whitehead have an obsession with things that run on tracks? Someone please ask him for me!)
Found myself reading Miriam Toews’s Women Talking in early June, during the same days the book takes place, and went through a roller coaster of emotions in a way I hadn’t experienced with a book in so long—I know other people have said this book is a masterpiece, and I’ll add my name to that list.
I read Normal People, and enjoyed it, but had to really think about which books I’d read this past year to remember anything about it.
Buy Stephanie Goehring’s chapbook From the Water [Inaudible], it will put you in a trance.
Met some fellow debut novelists in the book circuit, and it felt great genuinely loving all their books: Stay and Fight by Madeline ffitch has some of those most memorable characters in recent fiction; Reinhardt’s Garden by Mark Haber is a coked-up run through the jungle; Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run is a book I’m thinking about a lot these days, too.
Right now, I’m halfway through Wake, Siren by Nina MacLaughlin, and it’s taking my breath away in every single story—excited to start I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg, which is out next year. Saved Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi for this winter season—somehow reading it in the Texas heat seemed wrong.
I know there are more books, but that’s all I can think of for now.