Well, let’s face it. 2018 was a pretty terrible year in lots of ways. There were two interesting results of it all, though. First, I barely did any creative writing. Yes, I wrote magazine articles, fundraising proposals, administrative memos, thousands of emails. But I wrote only one poem all year, I think. And no fiction at all. Once the last draft of my next novel was sent to my publisher where it sits quietly waiting its turn in the queue, and that was last December, I’ve written absolutely no fiction. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that I couldn’t. But, either despite or because of this, I read more than ever. Looking back over my reading log I can see that generally I have read around 15 or 16 books each year – not counting poetry which I continue to set aside, read in a different way, and so not include in this annual list. But this year I read 23 books: many genres, some famous some not. The list continues to be a rather eccentric one. People are often surprised to hear that I haven’t read whatever that year’s ‘big book’ was. Sometimes I get around to those reads in later years. Sometimes I never get around to them. But that’s part of the fun of these lists, to see what drew my attention, what sustained me or aggravated me or lifted my spirits or taught me something. So without further ado and without comment (and for something like the 8th or 9th year running) here is What I Read This Year:

  1. Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
  3. Just Kids, Patty Smith
  4. Chez Moi, Agnes Desarthe
  5. This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolf
  6.  A Legacy of Spies, John LeCarré
  7.  White Houses, Amy Bloom
  8. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  9. Dr. Whortle’s School, Anthony Trollope
  10.  The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
  11.  Family Matters, Burton Bernstein
  12. Fatherless Women, Clea Simon
  13. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  14. Old Filth, Jane Gardam
  15. Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, Yanis Varoufakis
  16. Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan
  17. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Murakami and Ozawa, Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa
  18. Blue Notes, Still Frames. Colin Bell
  19. The Neighborhood, Mario Vargas Llosa
  20. Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov
  21. Anarchy and Old Dogs, Colin Cotterill
  22. All Quiet on the West End Front. William Rycroft
  23. Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, Rosecrans Baldwin