It’s a bit of a tradition for me to start a year by listing the books I read during the previous one. I’m generally not big on lists for their own sake, but I find this one is a handy way for me to take a few minutes to think about what I’ve been reading, and to see what patterns may emerge.
In light of Jessa Crispin’s recent “what your end of the year list says about you” article in The Book Standard, I find it particularly interesting to put together my list this year. She’s primarily referring to “best of the year” lists, while mine is simply “what I read.” But still, I respect her views and so I am glad to report that my list would likely meet with her approval.
So here, in alphabetical order by title, are the 29 books I read in 2005:
- Balconville, by David Fennario
- Best American Travel Writing 2004, edited by Pico Ayer
- Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
- Byline: Ernest Hemingway, edited by William White
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss
- Enough About You, by David Shields
- Half a Life, by V.S. Naipaul
- Kafka was the Rage, by Anatole Broyard
- Nickled and Dimed; On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrereich
- On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt
- Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
- Remembering Laughter, by Wallace Stegner
- Sacre Blues, by Taras Grescoe
- Saints of Big Harbour, by Lynn Coady
- Screwjack, by Hunter S. Thompson
- Spies, by Michael Frayn
- The Bobby Gold Stories, by Anthony Bourdain
- The Boomer, by Marty Asher
- The Dark Room, by Rachel Seiffert
- The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
- The Main, by Trevanian
- The Memory Artists, by Jeffrey Moore
- The Moon is Down, by John Steinbeck
- The Museum Guard, by Howard Norman
- The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles
- The World is Not For Sale, by José Bové and Francois Dufour
- Them, by Jon Ronson
- Why Are We At War?, by Norman Mailer
- You Can’t Win, by Jack Black
As per Crispin’s article, I am happy to note that:
None of these books are, as far as I know, on the New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” list. I wouldn’t object if a few of them were (nor would Crispin) but I’m happy to confirm that my reading list is not overly influenced by advertising and corporate interests.
None of these books were written by a former blogger. If any had been, all it would have said about me is that I’m a blogger too — which is true. But I do agree with her that blogs and books are very different things, and when you try to turn your blog into a book, you end up with something that works far better as a blog than as a book.
I have included at least one graphic novel. Sort of. OK, not really. The Boomer is a quirky little book that is essentially a cartoon / poem(ish) thing, with one panel per page. It’s a very quick read (less than 30 minutes), and is definitely the shortest title on my list (I considered not including it), but it’s not quite a graphic novel. However, there are two graphic novels on my 2004 list and one on my 2003 list, so that should count for something. Mental note: include at least one graphic novel in the 2006 reading list.
There are five women on this list, and none of them are Mary Gaitskill, Joan Didion, or Zadie Smith. Mind you, five out of 29 is a pretty low proportion. It was five out of 25 in 2004 and three out of 24 in 2003. Mental note: try to read more women writers in 2006.