In Which I Brag That I Can Read

Inspired and a wee bit intimidated by Elliott Holt's 2011 reading list, I sat down today in avoidance of a deadline and set upon the arduous task of listing every single book I read in 2011.

At the start of the year, I hoped to read 70 books. A quick look at my Netflix queue might have you guess, correctly, that I failed. I truly believe the list would be a lot longer if I hadn't wasted four hours watching the Kardashian marriage, if "articles about Zac Hanson" counted as books, if I hadn't watched the entire run of Family Ties on Netflix, and if I hadn’t wasted all that time reading Mormon mommy blogs working.

I reread a lot of old books. Some I revisited out of nostalgia; some out of that itchy feeling that I couldn't remember exactly what had happened. I reread a few childhood favorites when I was in the hospital and recovering. (I ordered a Judy Blume set off Amazon when I was sad/drunk one night.) I made quite a few lifestyle changes this year; that should excuse the two self-help books on the list, both by Kris Carr, cancer pioneer.

I’m a firm believer that what we read shapes and changes us; that investing our time in literature and nonfiction not only makes us smarter, but better, too; that we very may well be what we read. (In that case, I’m an adult child who loves depressing memoirs!)

And with that said, I present everything I can remember reading in 2011. The items in bold are my favorite new reads that came out this year or last. The books are listed in no particular order, except the last few that are currently being read.

I command thee to go forth and read!

  1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
  2. Henry IV, William Shakespeare
  3. The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
  4. Bossypants, Tina Fey
  5. Blueprints for Building Better Girls, Elissa Schappell
  6. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor (reread)
  7. Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Susan Jane Gilman (reread)
  8. Everything is Wrong With Me, Jason Mulgrew
  9. Half a Life: A Memoir, Darin Strauss
  10. Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares (Don’t judge. I had to see how it ended!)
  11. Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan
  12. The Long Goodbye, Meghan O'Rourke
  13. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
  14. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (reread)
  15. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn
  16. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  17. The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
  18. Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett (reread)
  19. Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy (reread)
  20. Say Her Name: A Novel, Francisco Goldman
  21. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken
  22. Love at First Bark, Julie Klam
  23. Great House, Nicole Krauss
  24. Just Kids, Patti Smith
  25. A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
  26. The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
  27. This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  28. Love and Obstacles, Aleksander Hemon
  29. A Widow's Walk, Marian Fontana (reread)
  30. Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Handler (Okay, judge me.)
  31. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume (reread)
  32. Other People We Married, Emma Straub
  33. The Ticking is the Bomb, Nick Flynn
  34. Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr
  35. Crazy Sexy Cancer, Kris Carr
  36. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee (Shit, I read a lot about cancer.)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling (reread)
  38. Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose, Adrienne Rich
  39. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Raymond Carver (reread)
  40. Blue Nights, Joan Didion
  41. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  42. Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
  43. The Summer Before, Ann M. Martin (I wasn’t kidding.)
  44. Fudge-a-mania, Judy Blume
  45. Superfudge, Judy Blume
  46. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (much better than Chelsea)
  47. [sic]: A Memoir, Joshua Cody
  48. The Two Kinds of Decay, Sarah Manguso (reread for the millionth time)
  49. Complications, Atwul Gwande
  50. Swamplandia, Karen Russell (in progress)
  51. This is Not Your City, Caitlin Horrocks (in progress)
  52. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (in progress)


  1. Yay! Reading recommendations too! Saving. Will you still love me if I admit that I'm proud of myself for reading 17 books so far this year? (I'm a SLOW reader.)

  2. I read insanely fast, which is good because I tear through things very quickly, especially if it captivates me. But it's also bad, because I should have read more!

    17 is fine, and you wrote a lot more than me! I suck. ;)

  3. What about all of those BSC books?

  4. I decided to only post one, but that 1 represents that 15 I probably read.

  5. I never comment because I think it's creepy. But read the hunger games series by suzanne collins. The "adult child who loves depressing memoirs" fits me perfectly too. I actually borrowed/reclaimed the hunger games series from my 12 year old stepson and finished all 3 in about 5 days.

    Anyhow, your blog is funny and inspirational and stuff and Lupus sounds very shitty and we all know cancer is shitty. Have a young friend recently dx with lup and referred her here for a laugh and a cry. Keep up the good work!..YAY. I commented.

  6. Thanks, Raegan! I've avoided The Hunger Games but I'll give it a shot.

    Thanks so much. x

  7. Thanks for posting the list - I am impressed! What is your top 4/5 books you read this year? I just read Cancer Vixen (yes, its been out for al while) and enjoyed it a lot - the cartoon format drew me into the story in a way I didn't think it would.

    All the best,


    PS - Are you going to read Gabby's book?

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