Hi, everyone! I stumbled across the idea for this post on The Broke and the Bookish last month and decided to save it for January to make sure I wouldn’t miss any new-to-me authors I really wanted to talk about. 2016 wasn’t as good a reading year as I’d hoped it would be, but I did discover a bunch of authors whose works I’d never read before. So that was good.
What I read: Between the World and Me
THIS MAN HAS SUCH A WAY WITH WORDS, LET ME TELL YOU. Having him as a writing professor would be a dream come true, but since I’m not sure if, let alone where, he teaches, I’ll content myself with studying Between the World and Me for clues to his word magic.
2. Vladimir Nabokov
What I read: Pale Fire
This guy has a way with words, too! I still have absolutely no interest in reading Lolita (unless forced to for school), but I appreciated the way Nabokov played with language in Pale Fire through deliberate syntactical choices.
3. Jeff Smith
What I read: Bone, Vol. 1: Out From Boneville, Bone, Vol. 2: The Great Cow Race, and Bone, Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm
I read the first volume of Bone as part of #AuthorAThon way back in April and now I’m obsessed! This series began with a childlike innocence that is gradually expanding out into more depth and unpredictability, with higher stakes for the characters. I’ve always been kind of in awe of people who take on both the writing and the illustration of their graphic novels, because AHH I CAN’T DO EITHER VERY WELL.
What I read: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
All I can say is that Scott McCloud is light-years ahead of me. Who knew there could BE so much theory regarding the art and narration of comic books?! My head hurts just from thinking about it.
5. Rainer Maria Rilke
What I read: Letters to a Young Poet
My Travel Writing professor read an excerpt from one of the ten letters aloud to us on the final day of class last spring. I don’t remember which letter he read from, but I do remember marveling at how beautiful the prose was. Now that I’ve read Rilke’s advice to aspiring writers, I’d love to try his poetry someday!
6. Tillie Walden
What I read: The End of Summer and I Love This Part
TILLIE WALDEN IS MY AGE. THIS FREAKS ME TF OUT. Hoooow is she so talented while I’m just an uncreative mushroom?! I loved the way she was able to stuff so much story into these fairly short graphic novels. I can’t wait to see what she does next!
What I read: Dubliners
Would you hate me if I said I faked my way through “Araby” and “The Dead” in my Intro to the Short Story class last spring? Because I did… and then felt bad enough about it that I ended up reading the entire collection those stories are from. Plus, Dubliners is listed on the syllabus of the Irish Writing Program I want to attend this summer! I listened to all of these stories via audiobook and really appreciated that Joyce gave us these glimpses into the lives of ordinary people at the turn of the century.
8. Ellen Forney
What I read: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
I was familiar with Forney’s art due to reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie a few years back, but until last summer I’d never read any of her writing. She’s hilarious and unafraid to talk about her misfortunes and shortcomings.
What I read: A Contract with God and New York: The Big City
Eisner is a BIG NAME in the world of graphic novels – the highest award that can be given to a graphic novel or comic book is named for him, after all – so I’d heard a lot about him over the years. I’m not sure if he focuses this heavily on “slice of life”-type stories in his other works, but I just want to say that I loved that approach in the two Eisner books I’ve read so far.
10. Joan Didion
What I read: The Year of Magical Thinking
Every single creative writing professor I have ever had has told me I should read Joan Didion’s work. Well, I finally did. Read something longer than a single essay, that is. I think her (circular? repetitive?) writing style definitely takes some getting used to but once you get into the rhythm, it’s easy enough to follow. Fun, too.
What authors did you read for the first time in 2016? Have you read anything by the authors I mentioned here? (What was your first experience with their books like?!)
P.S. Looking at this list, I just noticed how, well, male it is, with only three women mentioned here. Which isn’t a bad thing, just a bit unusual for me. As I’ve said many times before, 2016 was a rather lackluster reading year and when I wasn’t reading authors I’d already read before, I was apparently reading new ones who didn’t particularly impress me.