It’s been a busy year. Sickness, health, moving flat, working hard, finishing Flesh of the Peach, camping out and sauntering off on an arts residency. I haven’t had as much mental energy to devote to reading as I did the year before – you’ll see the Endless Reads list is about half of what it was in 2012. Not promising for the obligatory best-of lists that everyone and their uncle put out towards the end of this fine dark month of ours.
Here and in places elsewhere on the internet I’ve spoken about books I’ve loved this year, so I think it’s fine if I use this space for a speculative list. Book-shaped objects I should have – and wanted to, and want to – read. I might not have even glanced between the covers, and sometimes all I’m going on is the exterior itself, but I don’t imagine anyone is paying too close attention. Pretty diversions! Sparkles! Baubles for you to consider (however deep they may be in actuality):
1. Alone With Other People by Gabby Bess (Civil Coping Mechanisms)
I was sent a PDF of this. But one of the things I’ve learned this year is just how much I hate reading off a computer screen. I have a four minute focus when the words come pixelated at me. Still, I love Gabby Bess (AKA Gabby Gabby)’s work which I’ve read elsewhere. Go and read an excerpt. Then just buy the book. Stocking stuffer for yourself. Support the young female creator of the fantastic Illuminati Girl Gang.
2. Meat Heart by Melissa Broder (Publishing Genius Press)
Broder runs a fantastically bleak and humerous Twitter account, which is no reason to judge anyone at all harshly. She also had a Twitter feed where she imagined herself as a boy, and tweeted all sorts of boy-related stuff, channeling a dudebro as an exploration of masculinities and privilege. The poems I’ve read of hers have been all very couragous and coruscatingly new. Plus her book has pink and black cleavers on it.
3. The Revolution of the Everyday by Cari Luna (Tin House)
Cari Luna wrote this novel about squatting and social justice, and I just know it’s going to be a book I have a lot of fun reading. But I tried to get it in my local UK bookshop to no avail. So I’m going to have to wait it out. Cari is also a lovely person, so I will buy her novel just as soon as I can. Promise!
4. In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell (Random House)
Another one I tried to order at my local bookshop only to be told it was far away in America and thus nearly impossible to get for some reason. Reasons I want it: it’s experimental and strange and the title, while unwieldy, lures me in with a fishhook glint and a smell of old rotting trees.
5. Lake of Earth by William Van Der Berg (Caketrain)
I know literally nothing about this book. But look how pretty it is. Luminous cover has stolen my heart, yes.
6. I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane (Melville House)
A frustrated, ferocious 19 year old girl lashes out at the dullness of her world – Butte, Montana, 1902. Seemingly endlessly quotable, this non-fiction work (if it can be called anything so limiting) should be in my hands by now. IT IS NOT. Yet.
7. All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry (St Martin’s Griffin)
Here’s the thing: I don’t read YA. I haven’t since I was about 14. Because I am a fan of crushed little sentences, and a massive snob when it comes to reading, generally. But I want to make an exception for this book because 1. it’s a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in Seattle (I still haven’t made it to the Pacific North West and it is very much towards the top of the list of faraway seaside mountain forested places I want to wander in)(also: I do love a good Greco-roman my). and 2. It was written by one of the best people on the internet, formerly known as The Rejectionist.
8. Pretty much everything on this website (Emily Books).
I mean, pretty much everything, other than the book or two I’ve already read. If I could afford the subscription I would get it in a heartbeat. The fiction here is sure to challenge and spark you. If you can, sign up, and by the end of next year have yourself a clever/cool bookshelf full of smart female authors.
9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Harper Collins)
Another year passes.
10. Bluets by Maggie Nelson (Wave Books)
This looks to be everything I love, lyrical, small, multivocal, slightly obsessive. And yet, not yet. Come on, I tell myself.
What are your biggest literary regrets of 2013 (all while muttering, there’s still time, dammit, there’s still time!)?