Booklist 2016 and my reading goals for 2017

It’s been another slow year in reading. I could make excuses — I spent the early part of the year mourning my grandfather’s death, and then we moved in the middle of the year, and I’ve been writing full-time since fall, and the election knocked the wind out of me — but they’re just excuses. Still, as last year, it’s been quality over quantity, and I’m happy with my list this year even if I am eager to start making a bigger dent in my to-read stack in 2017.

So here’s the list of books I read this past year:

  • 30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection
  • Reader’s Digest Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual
  • Adrianne Harun, The King of Limbo
  • Alec Clayton, Tupelo
  • Alexis M. Smith, Marrow Island
  • Andrew Malan Milward, I Was a Revolutionary
  • Barbara Drake, What We Say to Strangers
  • Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
  • Bill Yarrow, Pointed Sentences
  • Bobby McDonald, Out of the Darkness: The Black Face of Hopkins County Volume III
  • Christian Kiefer, The Infinite Tides
  • David Mason, Ludlow
  • Doug TenNapel, Cardboard
  • Emily O’Neill, You Can’t Pick Your Genre
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Jac Jemc, A Different Bed Every Time
  • Jonterri Gadson, Blues Triumphant
  • Kathy Fish and Robert Vaughan, Rift
  • Len Kuntz, I’m Not Supposed To Be Here and Neither Are You
  • Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife
  • Margaret Malone, People Like You
  • Michael Hemmingson, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage
  • Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
  • Mo Daviau, Every Anxious Wave
  • Monica Drake, The Folly of Loving Life
  • Raina Telgemeier, Sisters
  • Rolfe Cobleigh, Old-Time Farm and Garden Devices and How to Make Them
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
  • Tim Winton, Dirt
  • Tony Earley, Tall
  • Tsunetomo Yamamoto, trans. by Alexander Bennett, Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai


And also, here’s a list of comics I’ve read, both in trade volumes and in single-issues I’m collecting:

  • Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (issues 4-10)
  • Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk/Joelle Jones, Mockingbird (issues 1-8)
  • Jason Aaron and Olivier Coipel, The Unworthy Thor (issues 1 & 2)
  • Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman/Steve Epting, The Mighty Thor (issues 1-13)
  • Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez, Spider-Gwen (issues 6-12)
  • Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, The Flintstones (issues 1-6)
  • Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, with Cliff Rathburn/ Stefano Gaudiano, The Walking Dead (trade Vol. 20-25)
  • Roxane Gay/Ta’Nehesi Coates/Yona Harvey and Alitha Martinez/Afua Richardson, World of Wakanda (issue 1)
  • Ta’Nehesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze/Chris Sprouse, Black Panther (issues 1-8)

I like to do breakdowns of my reading, just to see what I’m getting into and what I should read more of. This year, for some reason, story collections outweighed novels 9-7, which surprised me — pleasantly! I love story collections and they deserve more support.

I also only read 4 poetry collections, which feels like FAR too few, and only 4 nonfiction books and 3 religion/philosophy texts, which also feels light. (I also contributed chapters to a nonfiction text — a new student writing handbook for the community college I worked at. And writing nonfiction takes a hell of lot more time and effort than reading it!) Then again, my whole list this year is light, so I suppose it’s not as surprising as it feels.

The past few years, I’ve tried to be more conscious of the diversity in my reading habits, but habits being what they are — and the publishing industry operating the way it does — I often fail my own expectations. That was the case this year: of that list, only a bit more than a third are by or included women writers, and only eight titles are by or include writers of color. That’s not good enough.

To be fair, that’s partly because some of these are older nonfiction works from an era and in genres that favored men even more a few — or several — decades ago than they do now. And some of these are in a field that today still far too heavily favors male creators: comics. The comics I read this year involved nine people of color and six women as writers or artists (I don’t know the personal lives of all these creators, so I don’t know how many comics I’m reading involve LGBTQ writers or artists), but Black Panther and World of Wakanda alone account for six people of color and four women. These are two stunning, groundbreaking comics, but I still have plenty of work to do diversifying my reading habits, in comics and in general, so it’s something I’ll be looking at as the new year begins.

So that’s my mission for the coming year: read more books from the list my friends helped me create a few weeks back. Expand, learn, embrace, support.

And read, read, read.

May those efforts make for a happier 2017 for all of us, gang!

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

4 thoughts on “Booklist 2016 and my reading goals for 2017

  1. I love that you included “Calvin & Hobbes”–EVERY year should have some of that. And I’m curious “What we say to strangers”… Adding to MY list…

    1. That’s actually a great idea! This coming year, I’m going to need more Calvin & Hobbes in my world. 🙂

      Barbara Drake’s book is an older one of hers, but it’s lovely (as is she) — if you can find a copy, definitely pick it up. For fun, consider pairing it with Monica Drake’s The Folly of Loving Life; Monica is Barbara’s daughter.

  2. My list of having read is way different from yours. I am always fascinated by what others decided to read and are reading. Just finished “Shadow Tag” by Erdrich. I read a lot of Native American, Middle Eastern, and Latin American authors it seems. Quite a few African as well.

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