A Year in Books: 2017, vol. 2
With the end of the year upon us, the Attic editors have decided to review their year in reading through a series of questions posed by Literature Editor, Olivia Lindem. Tonight, Olivia answers the questions herself.
Question: What kind of reading defined your year?
Answer: I read a lot of theory this year – as every year – but because of my academic fatigue, what really stands out to me is all of the leisure reading I did to keep myself motivated to keep reading.
Q: How many books are left in your to-be-read pile?
A: So many. Finishing Bourdieu’s Distinction is at the top of my list. I’ve been trying to get into it for months, and I just can’t seem to do it. On the leisure end of things, Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, Ali Smith’s Hotel World, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and Winnifred Peck’s House-Bound.
Q: What are your top five books of the year?
Q: What – personally – is the most important book you read this year?
A: I’ve reread The House of Mirth twice this year and I am currently writing my thesis on it, so it’s the only possible answer to this question.
Q: And in terms of public reach – politics, current events, topics, etc.?
A: I’m absolutely terrible. Between my rampant anxiety, my family history of being involved in the political, and my failed past in International Relations, I tend not to want to go anywhere near current events that don’t have to do with gender. Consequently, the most politically relevant things I’ve read this year were probably Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Ali Smith’s Autumn and Winter.
Q: Did anything you read inspire you aesthetically?
A: I’m currently in the middle of rereading Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and I keep swooning at the aesthetic. I came across the following line a couple of days ago, and it’s still floating through my mind: “Everything about her shimmered and glimmered softly, as if her dress had been woven out of candle beams.” That and a similar line from The House of Mirth about being “all smiles and cashmere” are driving my aesthetic at the moment.
Q: Did anything keep you up reading until the early hours of the morning?
A: M.L. Rio’s If We Were Villains! It was the first and only time of the year that something had me hooked enough that I just had to keep reading until I was done.
Q: How many books did you finish?
A: 54. I had hopes of finishing The Age of Innocence and Mary Beard’s Women and Power by tonight, but alas.
Q: Were there any books that you abandoned? If so, why?
A: Unfortunately, Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. I started out by really enjoying the novel, but then I got into chapter three or four and I just got stuck once they started dwelling on the snakes. I hate snakes. I put it aside for what I thought would be a few days and then just never picked it up again.
Q: Did you reread any old favorites?
A: 2016 was my big year of rereads of old favorites – Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, etc., but I still did a fair bit of rereading in 2017. As already mentioned, I reread The House of Mirth twice. I reread Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Making of a Marchioness. Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. I read Orlando a couple of times.
Q: Did you read anything outside of your preferred genre?
A: I mean I don’t particularly enjoy reading theory, so I guess that qualifies. Otherwise, I don’t frequently go for memoirs, but I really enjoyed Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply.
Q: If you’re in the academic world, did you make time for leisure reading?
A: So much leisure reading. Leisure reading keeps me sane, and I try to do as much of it as possible.
Q: Did you read any books released in 2017? If not, are there any you want to read?
A: I read a couple. Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, M.L. Rio’s If We Were Villains, Ariel Levy’s aforementioned The Rules Do Not Apply, Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, Ali Smith’s Winter. There are so many others from Book Twitter that I want to get my hands on but keep forgetting to jot down.
Q: What book do you most want to recommend to people?
A: I was just completely blown away by Little Fires Everywhere and want to tell everyone to read it!
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