By Kari Ann Ebert
I’m a multiple-book, multiple-genre reader who gets distracted if another book is shinier. Oh look, let me buy that one! You might be like me: your TBR (to be read) bookshelf is the most crowded. So I thought I’d take a quick (quantum) leap through my favorite reads of last year, what I’m currently reading, and what I’d like to read in 2020 and beyond. Maybe a little time travel will help me stay on track and give you some ideas, too. In the words of one of my favorite authors, “The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” —Ursula K. Le Guin
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - (fiction) I read it in almost in one sitting. Heartbreaking humor about a quirky girl with social anxiety.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza - (fiction) an Indian family in the US navigates cultural, spiritual, and emotional differences even within their family. Each character broke my heart and made me root for them.
White Horses by Linda Blaskey- (poetry) Even though there were many amazing poetry books by Delaware writers this year, Linda’s gutted me the most. I always say she makes me care about things that wouldn’t normally interest me. She seems to have the market on duende.
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky- (poetry) One of my new favorite contemporary poets. He’s also wonderful to follow on Twitter. Deeply moving - I have no words.
Against Interpretation: And Other Essays by Susan Sontag - I wanted to read her essay “Notes on Camp” since it was the inspiration for last year’s Met Gala. This is one I have to purchase (since I borrowed it from the library) and underline to my heart’s content.
Just Kids by Patti Smith (memoir)- A snapshot of her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe in the 60’s & 70’s. Heartbreaking and inspiring at once. Best quote: “I stand naked when I draw. God holds my hand and we sing together.” - Mapplethorpe.
The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (young adult)- This is a smart, fun series about the little sister of Sherlock Holmes who solves crimes on her own. It’s set in Victorian England and has a steampunk flavor, which I love. Soon to be a film starring Millie Bobby Brown and Helena Bonham Carter. I’m all in!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas- (young adult) I haven’t seen the movie, and after reading the book I don’t want anything to ruin it. This is a terrifying look at racial tension in this country and one girl’s heartbreaking
How We Fight For our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones - I’ve enjoyed his poetry, so I’m excited to see what his memoir holds.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (fiction)- so far, so good. I’m not entranced, but it’s an interesting story.
Normal They Napalm the Cottonfields by DL Pearlman (Dogfish Head Poetry Prize winner, 2019) - I so enjoyed his reading at the DFH Poetry Prize party. I can tell he’s going to make me love what doesn’t usually interest me. That’s always my favorite!
The City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee (poetry) - I’ve only read single poems of his, so I thought I’d try a collection.
2020 and beyond
Collections by US Poets Laureate from beginning to present- This is a tall order, but my best friend Rebakah is reading through the US First Ladies, and I thought I might try something similar. There are 53 Poets Laureate, so that’s one per week + one double week. I love a reading challenge!
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood - (fiction) I’m patiently waiting for the paperback, because it’s a big one and my hands will hurt holding the hardcover. I might cave though since I’m itching to read it.
Becoming by Michelle Obama - (memoir) I know I’m behind the times here, but I will work it in.
Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar (2021) - (poetry) The second full-length collection by my favorite contemporary poet. Why does it take so long for a book to come out? A wise man once said, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
That’s all the time travelling I have time for, but I hope you found something interesting. I’m thrilled to become part of The Broadkill Review editorial team and look forward to the new year filled with amazing poetry and writing. Please mention some of your favorites or what’s on your TBR shelf in the comments. I’m always taking suggestions. Happy New Year and happy reading!
Kari Ann Ebert, is the recent winner of the Crossroads Ekphrastic Writing Contest sponsored by Eastern Shore Writers Association and Salisbury University Art Galleries. Ms. Ebert’s poetry has appeared in journals including Mojave River Review, Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, and more. In 2020 she will be a BOAAT fellow/resident at the summer workshops in June.