So a couple weird things happened this year regarding me and books. First, I read a heck of a lot of non-fiction. Second, I listened to a lot of audiobooks. If you know me well, you know I am a ‘read a physical copy, fiction only’ type of reader. The answer to this weird year is that I worked at the sawmill for a large portion of it. Working at the mill meant that I had nearly two hours of commuting time every day in which I could listen to books but not read them – I get carsick plus it was always dark at least one way (hello shift work). Sometimes I had even more time where I could be listening to a book during the day, it depended on which particular job I found myself in. So that explains the audiobooks. But the reason for the non-fiction is related. I have tried audiobooks before and never really liked them because they changed the way I experienced and imagined the story. I started out listening to podcasts and when I got bored of those I realized that non-fiction books were kind of like listening to podcasts. I started out with autobiographical books that were read by the authors (very much like podcasts) and slowly branched out from there.
Here are the books I read. If there is * it means it was an audiobook. I ended up listening to a couple fiction audiobooks. This was mostly unintentional. I didn’t know The Hate U Give was fiction until after I had started it. And One More Thing was read by the guy who wrote it, so it slipped in as well.
- A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
- One More Thing – BJ Novak*
- Equivocation – Bill Cain
- The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Slapstick – Kurt Vonnegut
- The Outside Circle – Patti LaBoucane
- The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas*
- Birdie – Tracy Lindberg
- Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
- God Bless You, Mr Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut
- Bossypants – Tina Fey*
- Yes Please – Amy Poehler*
- Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick*
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling*
- Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling*
- The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher*
- When They Call You a Terrorist: a black lives matter memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele*
- Wildflower – Drew Barrymore*
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou*
- Mom & Me & Mom – Maya Angelou*
- The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish*
- Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman*
- Beautiful Boy – David Sheff*
- Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher*
- Confessions of a Sociopath: a life spent hiding in plain sight – M.E. Thomas*
- Tweak – Nic Sheff*
- We All Fall Down – Nic Sheff*
- Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter*
- A Million Little Pieces – James Frey*
- The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson*
- Quiet – Susan Cain*
- 12 Years a Slave – Solomon Northup*
- Bitter Medicine – Clem and Olivier Martini
- Hunger – Roxane Gay*
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie*
- This Will Only Hurt a Little – Busy Philipps*
- I’m Afraid of Men – Vivek Shraya*
- first, we make the beast beautiful: a new journey through anxiety – Sarah Wilson*
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (Sherman Alexie) – This book was beautiful and has stuck with me in a visceral way. I think it was even more so because of the way Sherman read it. It is the first of his books that I have read and I must read more. It is a book that reflects back on his relationship with his mother and has a lot of stories from his childhood on his reservation. I highly recommend it.
- When They Call You a Terrorist: a black lives matter memoir (Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele) – If you want to learn about how the BLM movement started, this is the book and these are the people. It is very good and got me started on a trend of seeking out books by those who have had different experiences than me and doing my best to listen. I know it might be more enticing to read The Hate U Give if you are looking for a book about BLM because it is fictional and there is a movie, but you should really read this one instead. Or better, read both. But I would recommend this one first.
- Beautiful Boy (David Sheff) / Tweak (Nic Sheff) / We All Fall Down (Nic Sheff) – I know this is three books, but it is the same story. You kind of need to read all three to get the whole story. These books were very very engaging. At times they were sad and at times they were very frustrating. It feels like a very real description of addiction and the struggle to reach recovery. The upside of venturing into these is the knowledge that Nic is very much alive and well today.
- Bitter Medicine (Clem and Olivier Martini) – I had to read this one for school, but it was very good. It was written by brothers from Calgary and tells their story of learning to cope with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and interact with the health care system. Olivier drew the pictures and Clem wrote the words and together it is both powerful and informative.
- One More Thing (BJ Novak) – I love a good book of short stories and this is one of those. The first story in the book is one of my favourite short stories of all time.
- God Bless You, Mr Rosewater (Kurt Vonnegut) – I love Vonnegut. He has been my favourite author for years. I am working towards reading everything he has written.
- Birdie (Tracy Lindberg) – I selected this one off a list for one of my assignments last semester. It is fiction, but was written by Indigenous author and the events that it portrays very closely mimics things that have and continue to happen to Indigenous women. It is powerful and moving. If you want to start to understand the legacy of trauma embedded in Indigenous families and how it affects people differently, you should read this book. Even if you don’t, you should still read it.
- Quiet (Susan Cain) – This book is about introversion and helped my understand myself a little bit better.
- Mom & Me & Mom (Maya Angelou) – I read two Maya Angelou books this year and both were very good. She is a beautiful writer. I put this one on the list because I loved the way it used vignettes and stories throughout her life to show the relationship she had with her mother and how it changed and flowed.
- The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) – This book took me FOREVER to finish. I’m talking like over a year. But it was a good story! And it left me with that heavy sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a long but good read. I am not going to dive into another Dostoyevsky right away, but I will be reading more of him in the future.