A Year of Reading

What’s the best way to prepare for your college essays? Besides actually writing them, and rewriting them, and then editing them, and of course, building life experience so that you have something to write about, it’s a good idea to read as much as you can in the meantime. Read more than just school-assigned books. Those are often just chosen for their length, or their appropriateness, or the easily palatable lesson they can teach. There’s so much more out there!

I’ve always believed that everyone would be obsessed with books if they only found the right one to get them started.

Here at Naked Essay, it’s obvious that we love to write, but even more, we love to read. I’m always loathe to recommend books, because one person’s Favorite is the next person’s Forgettable. But I always keep track of the books I read, and this is my list of Books Read in 2014:

A Passage to India-E.M Forster
Out of Africa-Isak Dinesen
August:Osage County-Tracy Letts
The Ambassadors-Henry James
The Guts-Roddy Doyle
Persuasion-Jane Austen
If on a winter’s night a traveler-Italo Calvino
Some Do Not-Ford Madox Ford
War Brides-Helen Bryan
No More Parades-Ford Madox Ford
A Man Could Stand Up-Ford Madox Ford
The Last Post-Ford Madox Ford
Fingersmith-Sarah Waters
Mrs Dalloway-Virginia Woolf
The Last Enchantments-Charles Finch
Longbourn-Jo Baker
Brighton Rock-Graham Greene
The Book of My Lives-Aleksandar Hemon
The Boy Kings of Texas-Domingo Martinez
A Childhood in Scotland-Christian Miller
Small Island-Andrea Levy
A Room with a View-E.M. Forster
Dangerous Liaisons-Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Lost for Words-Edward St. Aubyn
The Custom of the Country-Edith Wharton
Pnin-Vladimir Nabokov
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man-James Joyce
Super Sad True Love Story-Gary Shteyngart
The Silkworm-Robert Galbraith
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius-Dave Eggers
East of Eden-John Steinbeck
An Artist of the Floating World-Kazuo Ishiguro
Essays by George Orwell
-Such, such were the joys…
-Charles Dickens
-Rudyard Kipling
-Shooting an Elephant
-Politics and the English Language
-Reflections on Gandhi
-Looking Back on the Spanish War
-Inside the Whale
-England Your England
-Why I Write
Wolf Hall-Hilary Mantel
Stories by Anton Chekhov
-A Story without an End
-A Living Chattel
-The Doctor
-Mari d’elle
-Too Early!
-The Cossack
-An Inquiry
-The Lion and the Sun
-The Daughter of Albion
-A Work of Art
-A Joke
-A Country Cottage
-A Blunder
-Fat and Thin
-The Death of a Government Clerk
-A Pink Stocking
-At a Summer Villa
The Handmaid’s Tale-Margaret Atwood
An Alphabet for Gourmets-M.F.K. Fisher
Bring Up the Bodies-Hilary Mantel
Consider the Oyster-M.F.K. Fisher
Frankenstein-Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The Children Act-Ian McEwan
The Black Sheep-Honoré de Balzac
The Kite Runner-Khaled Hosseini
On the Edge-Edward St. Aubyn
Nora Webster-Colm Toibin
The Zone of Interest-Martin Amis
Life Never Let Up: A Review of Call It Sleep-Irving Howe
George Orwell: “As the Bones Know”-Irving Howe
Tolstoy: Did Anna Have to Die?-Irving Howe
Where’d You Go Bernadette: Maria Semple
Empress Dowager Cixi-Jung Chang
The Narrow Road to the Deep North-Richard Flanagan
How to Be Both-Ali Smith
Dept. of Speculation-Jenny Offill
The Third Policeman-Flann O’Brien

Looking back over this year’s books, my favorites would have to be Ford Madox Ford’s Tetralogy, Christian Miller’s A Childhood in Scotland, Orwell’s Essays, Hilary Mantel’s books on Thomas Cromwell (the third is coming out next Spring!), and The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

What will I read in 2015? I’ll be re-reading some Brontë’s in my Classics Book Club, and various histories and novels about colonialism for my Serious book club.  Two of my favorite writers, Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Atkinson both have new novels coming out in the Spring.  Waiting for me on my bedside table are Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves, The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bottle-Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge, Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles, The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling, and The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien. I can’t wait to get started!