I’ve been thinking about what I read and why. Maybe this at its broadest: I am trying to understand the world, and myself, and the ways everything overlaps and intersects. Right now, though, it feels sort of difficult to focus on reading. I’ve been turning to poetry more than usual which feels manageable and grounding (midway through a Jane Kenyon collection currently), and am also finally getting around to posting my list of books read last year.
In mid-2019, went through a several month period of not reading much of anything but decided to let it happen and not try to cram in a ton of books at the end of the year to meet my GoodReads goal. Similarly, I only sort-of kept up with the “write something about every book you read” practice, and that’s fine. It’s back in progress for 2020, though! I missed having it to look back through at the end of the year.
Something else which feels significant in reflecting back on the year-in-books is that both Mary Oliver and Rachel Held Evans died in 2019. This interview (“Listening to the World“) with Mary Oliver from the On Being podcast has held up to multiple re-listens for me, and I returned to previously read books by both them (Searching for Sunday, Why I Wake Early). These women helped shift and expand my vision in meaningful ways and I am grateful for that. ♡
This drawing is 19th in a series of textual meditations I’ve been making since 2014, and was selected to be part of the exhibition Visual Thinking at the Ronald L. Barr Gallery at Indiana University Southeast. Methodical and meditative, these drawings have proven a constant over the past five years, and I imagine will continue to be so in the years to come.
I first saw this phrase of Louise Bourgeois’ in an exhibition at MoMA which include, among many books, paintings, and sculptures spanning her career, the fabric book Ode à l’oubli. (Here‘s a photo of her piece in the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait.) Her prolific body of work fascinated me, and her mantra offers hope that I too might return to openness from areas of repression.
It’s mid-February which means I’m overdue for my year-in-books post. It’s been about five years now since I started keeping track of each book I read, after a friend recommended GoodReads to me. This year, instead of just keeping a list of titles, I had a goal to practice writing about what I’m reading. I set out to write something, at least one sentence, about each book I read in 2018, and now have a google doc 30+ pages long with notes, observations, etc. I do think it helped with remembering the books I read; I can read a bit manically at times, and this practice served to counter and calm that a bit.
Another reading goal for last year was to read more poetry, and serendipitously an acquaintance introduced me to Pome*– a daily newsletter by Matthew Ogle that contains just one poem in your inbox, at the start of each day. (Which helped me to read many more poems!)
And finally: for the first time in my (adult) life, I read as many books written by women as by men, and they surely did not disappoint me. So crucial, so obvious. I feel like I’m catching up, stocking up on women’s voices to return to and recommend and reference moving forward.
The list of books I read in 2018 is below, with some that I particularly enjoyed and learned from in bold. (Past reading lists here: 2017, 2016, 2015)