Happy new year! I hope you’ve been able to hibernate over the holiday, and that you’ve taken some time to reflect and acknowledge everything you accomplished last year.
I like to read about Chinese astrology for many reasons — I love the animals, the reassuring 12-year cycle, and learning about the nature of elemental energy. I especially love that Chinese new year takes place in February, which gives me several extra weeks to prepare for it.
We are leaving the focused energy of Rooster year next month, when we enter the frisky year of the Dog.
But it’s not that time yet.
It’s still January, and I’m letting the energy stand still. I want the sparkles inside the snow globe of my life to thoroughly settle before I start on any new plans.
This is the perfect time for reading, and for reading lists.
For your enjoyment (and mine!), here is a list of seventeen of the best books I read in 2017:
1. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli: Mind-blowing. Beautiful. Changed everything for me.
2. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: If for some terrible reason writing new books was forbidden, I would be sad — but at least this book exists.
3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: I learned so much from this book. Unforgettable. Delicious.
4. The Red Word by Sarah Henstra: A fantastic story about a university campus in the 90s. Women’s studies + frat parties = look out!
5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers: Reading this beautiful, disarming novel was a highlight of my year.
6. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy: Strange, wonderful, and David Lynch-weird dialogue.
7. Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson: Made me laugh out loud. Also made my eyes open wide with horror and wonder.
8. The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky: A road trip. A ghost story. Clean, mysterious, California.
9. Rag Cosmology by Erin Robinsong: Dazzling, luscious poetry written for our forests and bodies. Late Prayer makes me cry.
10. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante: I saved the last one of the series for this summer. It was my favourite. Ferrante!!
11. Double Teenage by Joni Murphy: Danger. Best friends in the desert. Laura Palmer and Donna Hayward. Teenage girls growing up and apart.
12. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugan: Paris and Germany in WW2. Jazz music. Love and desperation.
13. Less by Andrew Sean Greer: Funny, delightful, uplifting. Also, possibly has the truest description about living with a writer I’ve ever read.
14. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy: Couldn’t put it down. Excellent vacation reading (sort of). Resilient kids are the stars of the story.
15. I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters: Strange, funny, and fable-like story with wonderful Fren-glish writing.
16. I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek: Funny, cynical, smart must-read for anyone who engages with social media. Especially if you’re in San Francisco.
17. Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle: Moving stories from the largest gang rehabilitation centre in North America. A teary, inspiring, human read.
Note: these are my top seventeen of the books that I read last year. They’re in no particular order, and they’re all excellent!
Have a joyful start to the new year. No rush — the new year doesn’t really start until February 15th, anyway!