2008 Book List

I’m embarrassed that every year I make a book list yet never complete it. *sigh* But I do enjoy making the list! Unfortnately, I think I’ve carried over the same books for more than two years. *big sigh*

Next year’s list will contain only 12 books, comprised of books currently collecting dust on my bookshelf—at least I have a reasonable chance of reading one a month. Notice there are no poetry books here. That list is really more fluid for me. For instance, in late January, I’ll attend the AWP conference and pick up a few titles while I’m there, not to mention new journals and anthologies, too.

Note: I’d like to read a John Edgar Wideman book but he has so many I don’t know where to start. He’s coming to speak at my college in February. Any suggestions?

2008 Book List

1. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe (int’l fiction)
2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (classic fiction)
3. Brevity and Echo anthology (short stories and prose poems)
4. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (classic fiction)
5. Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke (history)
6. A Personal History, Katherine Graham (autobiography)
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (classic fiction)
8. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde ("biomythography")
9. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris (nonfiction)
10. Vinegar Hill, A Nanette Ansay (fiction)
11. White Teeth, Zadie Smith (fiction, a re-read for me)
12. John Edgar Wideman (Need a suggestion)

So, what's on your book list for 2008?


xterminal said…
Note: I’d like to read a John Edgar Wideman book but he has so many I don’t know where to start. He’s coming to speak at my college in February. Any suggestions?

Fever has always been my favorite Wideman book, short stories with, as the title suggests, a nice, slow burn to them. Very enjoyable.
susan said…
I met and heard Wideman speak several years ago. I've read Brothers and Keepers and Philadelphia Fire. I read him for a course in his work. I was so impressed with his style and elegance if that is the right word. I have Damballah. I look forward to reading it.
susan said…
How did you select your 12? I've read the first two and two of Wideman's.
January said…
Hi Susan. These are books I've had on my list forever, books I’ve bought over the years but never read. But, in general, I try to be an intentional reader, meaning I try to read books that ultimately help me with my writing. So here are two links for you.

The first is an old post from last year on the subject: http://poetmom.blogspot.com/2006/10/top-to-bottom-tony-hoagland-what.html

The second is an article on intentional reading that was published a while back in Poets & Writers: http://www.bobhostetler.com/writing/favorite009.html

Hope that helps.
January said…
Xterminal and Susan, thanks for the Wideman suggestions. Much appreciated.
susan said…
I lead a women’s lit study group for young women literature and I’m big on multiculturalism so I read quite a bit of women’s literature particularly women of color from around the world. I am a huge poetry fan as well. I’m pretty sure I own more poetry than in other genre in my collection. My to-be-read list is way too long and I don’t fret about how much of it I get through. A short list for 2008 include: Brother, I’m Dying by Edwige Danicat, Duende: Poems by Tracy K. Smith, Gorilla My Love, by Toni Cade Bambara, If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, Blood Child by Octavia Butler, Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall, A Step From Heaven by An Na, Sold by Patricia Mccormick, The Girl With the Tangerine Scarf: A Novel by Mohja Kahf, Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan by Alphonsion Deng.
I'm a member at Shelfari. I've discovered many more reads since joining. I was a bibliophile before but since Shelfari, my tbr has spiraled out of control.
susan said…
Forgot to mention, I have #7, #8, and #11, too. I want to get through them as well. Typing at work means leaving things out and lousy editing.
January said…
Susan, since you write poetry, you may be ready for a writers retreat. Visit Cave Canem's Web site (cavecanempoets.org). I'm a member of this writers' collective. They also sponsor workshops and readings, mainly in the NY-NJ area. Check it out.

I may have to add a few books from your list onto mine.

And I know exactly what you mean about writing at work.
Goodnight, Mom said…

Also read Eat Pray Love. It's a quick and easy read that is terrific.

Just a suggestion.
I have three out of this list. Plan to read Zadie Smith soon.

reading room
susan said…
Thanks for the recommendation. I wanted to apply this year but I was busy with the girls I mentor, and I missed the deadline. I believe I mentioned previously that I know a few fellow Cave Canem members, and I have read and studied two of the founders' works: Toi Derricote is a Detroit Native and Cornelius Eady is a previous guest writer at a writer's series I've been attending for more than a decade. I own at least 5 Cave Canem Anthologies including two of their earliest.
I wish I had committed to my work, but I seem to be perpetually preoccupied with supporting artists rather than cultivating my own art.
January said…
It's never too late to start writing again. Think of all the life experience you've gained, all of those experiences to enrich your writing.

Toi was my professor long ago, which is how I got involved with CC. I'm in the second and fourth anthologies (I think). If 2008 is not the year for you, then definitely try in 2009.

No matter what happens, keep writing, and take advantage of the online communities to hone your craft (while you support others on their goals).

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