books (2017)

This year, I read more novels than I’d read in awhile. After growing up on them, I’ve been reading more and more nonfiction in recent years. Twenty-two of the books below were written by women. 42%, not quite up to half. Books can show you things you don’t believe, too, and should. Expansion, integration, mystery – yes to both.

(I read this poem by Mary Oliver, many times.)

In the coming year, I want to read more artist biographies, more science books, more by contemplatives and mystics, more novels that are the kind people call “sweeping”. I want to read more poetry. After looking through a few essays from my last semester of college, I also want to write and talk more about what I’m reading. It seems important to practice holding articulation and uncertainty together.

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books (2016)


  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  • If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers, Hannah Brencher
  • Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf
  • Home, Marilynne Robinson
  • Lila, Marilynne Robinson
  • Watership Down, Richard Adams
  • Erotic Ambiguities: The Female Nude in Art, Helen McDonald
  • Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art, Jennifer New
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis
  • 40 Days of Dating: An Experiment, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
  • Perelandra, C.S. Lewis
  • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
  • Mindfulness: 25 Ways to Live in the Moment Through Art, Christophe Andre
  • Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg
  • Dog Songs, Mary Oliver
  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay
  • Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
  • Pictures & Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings, James Elkins
  • No Matter the Wreckage, Sarah Kay
  • One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, B.J. Novak
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
  • That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis
  • The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  • How We Are Hungry, Dave Eggers
  • A Short Guide to Writing About Art, Sylvan Barnet
  • Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century, Jed Rasula
  • Women in Clothes, Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton
  • Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics, Nada M. Shabout
  • Stardust: Supernovae and Life – The Cosmic Connection, John Gribbin
  • Slaugherhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  • *Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren F. Winner
  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, George Saunders
  • A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
  • Pastoralia, George Saunders
  • H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald
  • Remote Control: Power, Culture, and the World of Appearances, Barbara Kruger
  • Buddhism for Beginners, Thubten Chodron
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone
  • Fool Me Once, Harlan Coban
  • Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, Shunryu Suzuki
  • McSweeney’s #44, edited by Dave Eggers
  • Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal, Joseph Campbell
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • Cambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land, Joel Brinkley
  • *Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Rachel Held Evans
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
  • The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Amitav Ghosh
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
  • How to be Both, Ali Smith
  • Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, Donald Miller
  • Thirst: Poems, Mary Oliver
  • Evidence: Poems, Mary Oliver
  • The Book of Buddhas: Ritual Symbolism Used on Buddhist Statuary and Ritual Objects, Eva Rudy Jansen
  • Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, Mary Oliver
  • The Circle, Dave Eggers
  • TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, Chris J. Anderson
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

* = re-read