I regret that I haven’t kept a record of all the books I’ve ever read. Although I think I remember most of them, I’d just love see every title I’ve ever consumed in list form, because I have a borderline-pathological obsession with lists. Books are such an experience for me- I remember not only the stories but how they made me feel and where I was-both in my life and physically-when I read them them, so they tend to stick with me forever, and because I have an innate need to categorize and catalog everything in my life, I take time after I finish every book to transcribe quotes that resonate with me into a hardcopy notebook. This notebook is truly my most valuable possession, and last year I became distraught when it inexplicably went missing from my room and I was depressed until weeks later I found it propped on the porch: it had fallen off my desk and out my bedroom window into the yard, where the gardener had found it and left on the railing for me to find. It was faded, waterlogged, and had a spider’s egg nest in the spine, but my personal collection of literary highlights was still legible, and I’ve never been so relieved.
So in the case that I once again throw my favorite possession out a window, I’m going to start (digitally) recording every book that I read. Here’s a list of what I’ve read recently, some of my favorite books and authors of all time, and what’s on my reading list. These days I have to alternate novels with peer reviewed journal articles so my wish list is often longer than my read list, but an undevoured stack of fiction is my ultimate motivation to get my work done.
What I’ve read recently:
I’ve gotten several of my recent reads from the High Low, a podcast by writers Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton that discusses timely literature, media, pop culture, and politics. Pandora and Dolly are journalists who emphasize the importance of enjoying and consuming both the trivial and the consequential and the accessible and the esoteric, so their recommendations cover a huge range of topics and interests. They’re both really incisive and funny and both their podcasts and writing are spot on, and hearing their erudite British-accented voices discuss literature is my new therapy.
-The Watchmaker of Filagree Street-Natasha Pulley
Really good, slightly in the style of magical realism but set in 1800s London and Japan instead of South America.
-Call Me By Your Name-André Aciman
I read this is one night, and then re-read it a week later. One of the most painful, beautiful, relatable, and BEST books I’ve ever read-more on this soon!
-Enigma Variations– André Aciman
Also very good. Like CMBYN evokes emotions I didn’t know a book could bring out.
-Me Before You and After You, JoJo Moyes
A High Low suggestion. Definitely NOT my usual style at all, as it’s very chickflick-y. Despite finding the protagonist sort of unlikeable and feeling that it’s not particularly well written, I still enjoyed them and on the library wait list for the last book in the trilogy.
-Standard Deviation-Katherine Heiny
Also a High Low suggestion. I thought this was well written and explored the complicated nature of relationships.
-So You’ve Been Publically Shamed-Jon Ronson
Jon Ronson is my hero and this book is incredibly relevant in the age of incessant online presence and internet witch hunts, and I think everyone should read it immediately.
–The Psychopath Test-Jon Ronson
Not as good as SYBPS but still an informative and enertaining book. Jon Ronson’s combination of investigative journalism and storytelling is unbeatable.
-Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are-Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Clearly written by a hardcore computer scientist who just wants to get ideas on the page, the prose is lacking but the ideas and findings surrounding data collected from internet search history is pretty shocking and interesting and is worth reading.
-Riven Rock-T.C. Boyle
Not nearly as good as Tortilla Flat but a disturbing and entertaining read.
-Aunt Julia and the Script Writer-Mario Vargas Llosa
Amazing, hilarious and poignant. I plan to read all his other books in Spanish as I bet they’re even better untranslated.
–Life is Elsewhere, The Farewell Waltz, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Joke, Immortality-Milan Kundera
All amazing, I cant get enough of Milan Kundera
All time favorite authors (in no order):
Jon Ronson-also makes a great Audible series called the Butterfly Effect, and is a dream on podcasts.
Gabriel Garcia Márquez
All time favorite books. In no order but the particularly unforgettable in bold. I’m forgetting some but I will add them as they come to me.
-Harry Potter series, obvi
My reward for myself getting accepted into a PhD program was binge re-reading all 7 books in a week.
–Call Me By Your Name-André Aciman
–This Side of Paradise-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Indulgently intellectual in a way that I love, but also comical.
–The Beautiful and the Damned-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway books always are the alluring combination of an escape to glitzy worlds full of endless cocktails and leisure mixed with extreme dysfunction and brokenness.
-Tender is the Night-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Same as above
–Islands in the Stream-Hemingway
Hemingway may be my all time favorite author and this book centers around drinking, the sea, and fishing boats and there’s nothing I love more then Hemingway describing fancy drinks and boats.
-The Unbearable Lightness of Being-Milan Kundera
Incredible. I need to reread it because I don’t remember much about the plot but I remember being blown away and I still remember how reading it made me feel. I can never really describe Kundera books.
–The Book of Laughter and Forgetting-Milan Kundera
Just as good as Unbearable Lightness.
–The Garden of Eden-Hemingway
See comments under Beautiful and the Damned. Intoxicating combination of the glamour of the South of France with a highly disturbing and dysfunctional relationship.
–East of Eden-Hemingway
Also need to reread, but this book really stuck with me. Not a happy read.
-The Sun Also Rises-Hemingway
Everything Hemingway is amazing.
-A Moveable Feast-Hemingway
Tales of the ex-pat writers era in Europe. Loved reading about all my favorite authors drinking and writing in Paris.
-Big Sur-Jack Kerouac
Alternates between descriptions of the mountains in the Sierras and binge drinking and it’s beautiful.
–Grapes of Wrath–Steinbeck
An all time favorite. It’s become sort of cliché so I thnk people write it off but it’s truly a masterpiece and popular for a reason.
–So You’ve Been Publically Shamed–Jon Ronson
See description under recently read list.
Tortilla Curtain-T.C. Boyle
Great book that juxtaposes the lives of rich, white gated-communities with the illegal immigrans living in the woods around them. Now painfully relevant.
Also discusses borderlands culture and profiles a young Mexican-American girl living in California.
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters-J.D. Salinger
I never quite understood this series but I love these books.
-The Stranger at the Palazzo d’Oro–Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is probably my favorite modern writer.
-My Secret History-Paul Theroux
-The Frederica Quartet: The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower, a Whistling Woman–A.S. Byatt
Absolutely obsessed with these books. In another life I’d be an esoteric literary scholar and these books vicariously fulfill that dream as the whole series centers around a literary family in England who are constantly discussing books within the books. It sounds boring, but it’s basically porn to me. So good.
Same as the Frederica Quartet
Los Días del Arcoiris-Antonia Skármeta
Poignant and political book following a young boy during the Pinochet era in Chile.
Books I want to read next:
-Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race-Reni Eddo Lodge
-Mario Vargas Llosa books
-Still Me-Jojo Moyes
-Harvard Square-André Aciman
I’m always looking for my next book-suggestions welcome!