Forget January. March is the start of my fiscal year. March is my point of renewal, and not just because of spring (come o-o-o-on, spring!). March is when I started writing my weekly newspaper column (10 years ago this month, to be precise). March is when I stopped drinking (three years March 13, but who’s counting?).
March is when I look back on the past year. For example:
- I published my latest collection, Don’t Everyone Jump at Once.
- I bought a pair of forest green dress pants, and even though two girls at the school where I work said, “Nice pants, sir,” to which I replied (unsure whether they were sincere or sarcastic), “Thanks, because it was kind of a big deal to buy them, and an even bigger deal to wear them,” I don’t care. Though clearly I do.
- I was published in that McSweeney’s collection.
- I discovered that “spice” scented flea medication is unfortunate in all regards.
- I came to the revelation that I no longer have the patience to ask a sales clerk to unshackle a package of razors from a display shelf anti-theft lock.
- I began writing a novel.
- I hit 1000 followers, and just recently 1500 many of whom are human. I love you, human followers!
And for whatever arbitrary reason, March is also when I compile my list of books read since the previous March. I read 30 in all, which is about 11 fewer than last year. I blame society. Granted, a number of this year’s were monsters compared to some of the slim jims of the year before. Winter’s Tale alone took up all of January. I’ve also been writing more (see “novel” above). In fact, I should be doing that right now! ARRRGH! Curse you, procrastination!
So here’s my list with a few random, not particularly helpful comments:
- Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon (my first introduction to Chabon and a revelation)
- 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
- The Ask – Sam Lipsyte
- Sarah Binks – Paul Hiebert (Won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 1948, the second year it was handed out; it hasn’t held up too well.)
- Tenth of December – George Saunders (This guy can write, bub!)
- Truth in Advertising – John Kenney (I completely forget pretty much everything about this.)
- Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
- 419 – Will Ferguson (won Canada’s top literary prize in 2012; made me worry about the state of Canada’s top literary prize)
- A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore (okay but prefer Birds of America)
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbary
- Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby (second time; I aspire to Hornby)
- NW – Zadie Smith
- Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon (epic; dazzling)
- Angels & Insects – A.S. Byatt
- The Ten-Year Nap – Meg Wolitzer
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – Ben Fountain (probably the best book I read last year)
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon (I know it’s beloved but… meh…)
- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut (again)
- 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson (I felt 100 years old by the time it was over)
- A Person of Interest – Susan Choi (my first intro to her; complex; recommend)
- A Hologram for the King – Dave Eggers (A favourite of last year and one of the best sad-middle-aged-man books I’ve read.)
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabbon (did not engage; am I just Chabboned out?)
- The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt (A major prize-winner, including Canada’s top humour prize. Humour so dark as to be almost invisible, apparently. Still, excellent book.)
- Canada – Richard Ford
- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town – Stephen Leacock (the master; holds up surprisingly well)
- Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies – Various (including me!)
- Bone & Bread – Saleema Nawaz (A terrific little novel set mostly in Montreal; named best English novel in Quebec 2013.)
- Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich – Stephen Leacock (This is how you write satire.)
- Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin (What a revelation! Pure magic!)
- The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer (Are you special? Wolitzer is.)
Have you read any these? What did you think? Are you still there? I have nothing else to say. Leave a comment if you’re going to. If not, skedaddle already!