2017 is the year I took reading seriously. There are no two ways about it. Before, I only really enjoyed Stephen King and J K Rowling, although I did indulge in a lot of Japanese Horror. I’ve read different novels here and there, but it was only this year when I made a conscious effort to branch out and see what the literary world had to offer. I had a loose rule of reading literature that was highly regarded e.g. Pulitzer/Booker worthy. However, this was because of my writings and I needed to read something on a level I wanted to achieve. To begin with…
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I enjoyed this novel. A Hell of a lot. Yeah, it’s somewhat overlong and there are some digressions, but on the whole, it’s a perfect example of a writer capturing the mood of a nation. I won’t go into this novel as I’ve already discussed this on a previous post, but it gave me something to shoot for within my own writing.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Another ambitious novel that cannot be approached lightly, I enjoyed this in the same way I enjoyed The Corrections. The situations are believable, the characters are memorable and I’m always recommending it to my friends.
Tristessa by Jack Kerouac
This cut a lot deeper than most the novels I read. It’s an exploration of a hopeless love and how it truly blinds us. Kerouac pulls no punches and shows all the hurt, dirt and despair without letting up. You can actually feel his heart crack in the last few pages.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Oh boy. Reading this one hurt as well. Not because of any identification with Yunior (I see him as a polar opposite in nearly every way) but because of how I understand his pain. No matter if you’re a repentant cheater or someone who can’t handle a romance yet regrets the break up, we all feel the same pain. Cheating on your girlfriend, attempting a doomed holiday to reconnect, a flash of the future where she sends a letter claiming she’s happier without him? That’s just the first short story. It’s heartbreak, and it’s beautiful.
Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Imagine if Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fifty Shades of Grey but with more plot, his signature brand of creepiness turned up to eleven and a lot of female sex toys? It’s not for the faint of heart, I tell you. Chuck is a divisive author to many, though I love his writings even if they disturb me.
The Fog by James Herbert
If Stephen King is 70’s Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, then James Herbert is the entire Punk Rock movement. There is such a brutality in his writings that it’s a shame he’s not revered as he should be. I read this on the train to and from London and boy, I was entertained on the whole ride.
Columbine by Dave Cullen
I’ve always held an interest in criminology and the Columbine massacre was always something I kept coming back to. I’m not going to go into details or discuss my thoughts on the incident, in all honesty, Dave Cullen does a better job of that. He talks about the massacre, the perpetrators, the effect it had on the community as well as dispelling the myths that followed.
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
I think Krysten Ritter has a promising career as a novelist ahead of her. For a first novel, Bonfire ticks all the right boxes with an emphasis on keeping the plot moving forward. It does feel like a first novel in parts but as she improves, I think there is more to be expected and I await her next novel with anticipation.
So… those were my highlights of what I read this year. I didn’t list every novel I read, or even every novel I enjoyed. I will give mention to Kazuo Ishiguro whose novels A Pale View of Hills and Never Let Me Go I enjoyed, and The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh who I recommend to anyone who has ever enjoyed Trainspotting (the film or book).
2018 Reading Goals
Thanks to GoodReads, I’m indulging in my literary sweet tooth. I’ve made several goals which include…
- Read 100 books
- Read from various years of publication
- Read more essays
- Read authors from a variety of backgrounds
Whatever happens next year, I know I’ll at least be reading.