This year I decided I could read whatever the fuck I wanted. This doesn’t seem like that revolutionary a decision, but as a literary agent, I read for a living, so there is always something I have to read. Luckily for me, obligatory doesn’t mean boring or bad. I also have a strong sense of FOMO, and I want to read what everyone else is reading, so I can join in on the discussion online. I cannot read whatever everyone else is reading, because everyone is a lot of people. So last January, I gave myself permission to read whatever I wanted, FOMO and Twitter (but not work) be damned.
I read 85 books this year, including client manuscripts, more than any other year since I was in middle school, probably. I also kept a list of them for the first time, probably since middle school, just in my Notes app. That definitely helped me read more, because I like adding things to lists.
I have made some charts about my reading this year, because I also like making charts in Google Sheets. Here they are.
Methodology: I kept track of the books as I finished them, in order by month. There were two books I did not finish, and no I will not tell you which ones. I was tempted to count all the picture books I read my daughter at bedtime, but I’d only do that to make my total book count higher and higher, and that didn’t feel right. I did not count the draft of a book I wrote myself on this list, though I was tempted to. It was still a book I read. You’ll see that I read over 40 graphic novels this year, and I’ve seen a few of my friends start to say that these didn’t count, but they’re obviously wrong. Please tell Marjane Satrapi and Jason Lutes that their books don’t count. I didn’t count single issue comic books on this this, because obvs, but I did count trade paperback comics. Fight me.
I used the library more than ever this year. I read more ebooks and even my first audiobook. (I know, I know. Also, that counts as “read,” too. Don’t even start.) I’ve had more to talk about regarding my reading this year, even if I wasn’t reading what everyone else was reading, so my FOMO was unfounded. Putting no restrictions on my reading this year was one of the best things I’ve ever done, really. I should be adding my first finished book of 2019 to my list today.
Here’s my 2018 Reading in Charts:
Obviously, things picked up at the end of the year. It helped that I read three volumes of SAGA in like a week. I also read several client manuscripts in the crunch before the holidays.
I like physical books. It helps separate my work-reading from my personal-reading, since most of my work-reading is in digital manuscript form. I have discovered the joy of the library, and reading physical books, especially oversized, hardcover graphic novels. Enjoying a book and not having to find space for it on our crowded bookshelves was an unexpected bonus. Reading library books also spurred me to buy a few more books, because I loved them so (THE BEST WE COULD DO, Thi Bui) or because I didn’t want to wait for the author’s new one (ON A SUNBEAM, Tillie Walden).
Tbh, I expected there to be more MS (manuscripts) on my list. Next year, it could be totally different. A lot of my clients are in the middle of multi-book deals, which doesn’t require me to read a full manuscript over and over (usually). I am taking on fewer new clients these days, and sold more books on proposal this year.
I love you Brooklyn Public Library. I had about $5 in late fees all year.
I probably read fewer YA novels this year than previous years, even though I’m in a YA/MG book club and read that title just about every month. Graphic novels and comics are tricky, though, as the audience isn’t always as clear. When in doubt, I noted where the library shelved the book, and used that designation.
Genre is tricky, too, but I did my best. I didn’t mark something as “YA Contemporary Horror” because I just had to draw the line somewhere. I have never read more comics as I have this year. It was great.
Here is my complete reading list, minus my client manuscripts, because you don’t get to know about those yet:
Turtles All the Way Down, John Green
The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
That Kind of Mother, Rumaan Alam
Lefthand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle
What To Do When I’m Gone, Hallie Bateman and Suzy Hopkins
And Now We Have Everything, Meaghan O’Connell
Paper Girls, Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt, Ken Krimstein
Love, Hate, and Other Filters, Samira Ahmed
How to Write and Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee
Audubon: On the Wings of the World, Fabian Grolleau and Jeremie Royer
Paper Girls vil 2, Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang (comic)
Something New, Lucy Knisley
The Prince and the Dressmaker, Jen Wang
Speak, graphic novel, Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll
Robert Moses: Master Builder of New York City, Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman
HP and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling
The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Emergency Contact, Mary HK Choi
Maus II, Art Spiegelman
A Contract with God, Will Eisner
The Golem’s Mighty Swing, James Strum
Stitches, David Small
Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
(In a Sense) Lost and Found, Roman Muradov
Pictures Us in the Light, Kelly Loy Gilbert
Why art? Eleanor Davis
Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
The Lie and How We Told It, Tommi Parrish
Like a Mother, Angela Garbes
Textbook, Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Sanpaku, Kate Gavino
The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui
Spinning, Tillie Walden
The Lighthouse, Paca Roca
Alpha: Abidjan to Paris, Bessora and Barroux
Passing for Human, Liana Finck
Bingo Love, Tee Franklin
Turning Japanese, Mari Naomi
Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones
Boundless, Jillian Tamaki
Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett Krosoczka
Sabrina, Nick Drnaso
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, Ari Folman and David Polonsky
This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Heavy Vinyl, Usdin, Vakueva, Flores, Nalty
The Sigh, Marjane Satrapi
The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert
Check, Please, Ngozi Ukazu
If Our Bodies Could Talk, James Hamblin (audiobook)
The Wendy Project, Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish
Young Frances, Hartley Lin
Minding the Store, Julie Gaines and Ben Lenovitz
Pride, Ibi Zoboi
Saga, vol 1, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga, vol 2, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Harry Potter and the Prisoner If Azkaban, JK Rowling
House of Women by Sophie Goldstein
Magritte: This is not a biography, Vincent Zabus and Thomas Campi
The Late Child and other Animals, Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger
Berlin, Jason Lutes
In 2019, I want to read more literary fiction. But only because I want to.