Tag Archives: New Years Resolutions

So Many Books: A 2012 Reading List

27 Dec

When I was at Bennington for graduate school, we were required to read around 100 books in two years.  Bennington’s MFA Program motto is famous: “Read 100 books. Write one.”  I had to put myself on a very rigorous reading schedule to accomplish this and for the most part, I did.  In the years since, I’ve scaled back a bit, but have always tried to keep some sort of reading “list.”  Call it OCD (I love lists) or habit (grad school training), but at the end of every year, I compile a new, revised reading list for the next year.  This list usually changes some depending on a new book I’ve heard about or if a friend has recently come out with something, but more or less I try to work my way through my list.



This year’s list (for 2012) is comprised of books I’ve been wanting to read, books I’ve mostly read and really want to finish, or books I’ve skimmed and need to make the time to actually sit down and enjoy.  Reading my way through this list is one of my top New Year’s Resolutions.  What better way to enter a new year than with the promise of a good story, a poem, or uncovering a new writer?


Must Read, 2012 Edition:




Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley
The Ticking is the Bomb by Nick Flynn
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Unpacking the Boxes by Donald Hall
Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose
Happy by Alex Lemon
Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker
The Bill From by Father by Bernard Cooper
Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells
The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll
The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
Hungry Town by Tom Fitzmorris
A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle




Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson
For the Living and the Dead: Poems and a Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer
Temper by Beth Bachmann
The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets
Facts for Visitors by Srikanth Reddy
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe
Black Blossoms by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Stupid Hope by Jason Shinder
Milk Dress by Nicole Cooley
Special Orders by Edward Hirsch
Cocktails by D.A. Powell
A Village Life by Louise Gluck
Elegy by Mary Jo Bang
In the Surgical Theatre by Dana Levin
Pierce the Skin by Henri Cole
The Diminishing House by Nicky Beer
The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer
Letter to a Stranger by Thomas James
The Living Fire by Edward Hirsch
Domestic Violence by Eavan Boland


I’m also thinking about returning to some of my most-loved children’s books.  I feel that the books that we read as children shaped us in the way that no other books can: we learn from them, grow from them, try on their identities.  Some of the books that I would read again are:


The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Secret Garden by Eliza Hodgson Burnett
Daphne’s Book by Mary Downing Hahn
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen




Another related resolution that I’d like to add is inspired by the NPR article, “A Poem a Day: Portable, Peaceful, and Perfect.”  I love the idea of beginning the day with a poem and I find myself breathing easier whenever I read and then sit with a poem.  I think that doing so would make my day more peaceful, perfect.