What was your favorite book that you read this year?


2014 edition

KRISTINA MAHLER: Cunny Poem Vol. 1 by Bunny Rogers & Brigid Mason. I did a reading with Bunny in Vancouver and watching her perform affected me for a long time after. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, the tone of her poems and her voice, the way her language can be juvenile and flippant but also brutally dark and heavy. The aesthetic of the book is also basically perfect, I am a serious Bunny Rogers fangirl now.

ADAM J KURTZ : I really enjoyed reading Meg Wolitzer’s “The Interestings,” which I bought only for the bright cover, because its subject matter caught me in a weird funk and had some good lessons. It was a fun, easy read. Also I enjoyed reading Spencer Madsen’s “You Can Make Anything Sad,” which I read.

MIRA GONZALEZ: my favorite book i read this year was ‘nobody is ever missing’ by catherine lacey. i liked it so much that i’ve been too nervous to email her and tell her that i liked it. it’s one of those books that made me feel simultaneously inspired and deeply insecure about my own writing abilities.

BOB SCHOFIELD: Everyday Is for the Thief by Teju Cole. Because it’s good to take the occasional peek outside your bubble, and remind yourself that the world is always so much bigger and more complicated than you assume.

MASON JOHNSON: Decided not to read any books by straight white dudes in 2014, which led to me being angry that no one (a teacher or anyone I look up to) had forced me to read Eileen Myles’ Inferno earlier. Same goes for Amiri Baraka’s The Autobiography of Leroi Jones. As far as books that actually came out this year, Sara Woods’ Wolf Doctors juggled energy and beauty in ways that make me envious, but in a very good happy feely kinda way, not in the “I’m going to murder you for your power” kinda way.

JAMES GANAS: my favorite book that i read this year was ‘brief interviews with hideous men’ by david foster wallace. the book sets up stories that are cohesive and logically tight in their examination of modern neuroses. i feel like i audibly said ‘oh’ multiple times while reading each story.

TRACY DIMOND: My favorite book I read this year is Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting. Every story used bizarre context to show what women have to do to survive. Sometimes it feels like destruction is the only option, this book put the feeling to page.

GILES RUFFER: i’m going to go with ‘vault’ by david rose. this “anti-novel” is a short (under 200 pages) and existential book. ffo camus and cycling lol.

GUILLAUME MORISSETTE: I just want to recommend, in general, the novels of Elena Ferrante, pretty much any of them. A good starting point is probably The Days Of Abandonment, which is from 2002, and is both pleasurable and distressing to read.

ASHLEY OPHEIM: The best novel I read in 2014 was Clarice Lispector’s Near To The Wild Heart. My heart understood the words in this book better than my mind did, and that’s what I loved about it. Lispector has a way of writing about the invisible worlds that exist within us in a way that shows how human flaws can fuse with divine perfection.

MATTHEW BOOKIN: "Wolf in White Van" by John Darnielle. It has all the puzzle pieces. I probably won’t ever read another novel again.

SEBASTIAN CASTILLO: my choice is easy! I Love Dick by Chris Kraus. Unlike anything I’ve read. I Love Dick changed my relationship with books and reading.

MARK CUGINI: Alexis Pope’s SOFT THREATS. It’s venom. It’s a piano string. It’s everything I’ve ever needed.

STACEY TEAGUE: the secret history by donna tartt - i read a lot of it during a 23 hour flight and it made me forget bad and weird things, which is good. i lent it to my boss and he lent me donna tartt’s second book, the goldfinch which i’ve nearly finished. also very a++

SAMANTHA CONLON: mine is How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti because it’s the first book i ever read that feels really for women. it’s unapologetically feminine and there are things in that book that are truly original. the relationship between sheila and margaux is one of my favourite relationships in a story so far. i feel like its a life changing book and fills me with a lot of nice feelings about being female and makes me feel extremely lucky for having so many brilliant female relationships in my life.

ALEXANDER SEEDMAN: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. I’m not a huge fan of Murakami (I’ve read three other novels by him, one of which, Kafka on the Shore, I adored, and the others I found boring…too symmetrical and predictable). But this is really stand-out brilliant to me because I identified with a really complicated pain in the protagonist’s insecurity with feeling unspectacular.

EMMIE RAE: the miracle of mindfulness by thich nhat hanh because it’s a truly precious book to read at anytime and over and over or when you know your perspective needs to change, even just slightly.

COLIN DROHAN: I read the poet Tim Dlugos’ collected poems, A Fast Life, this year, and have not been able to stop raving about him ever since.

DAVE SHAW: The book I most enjoyed reading this year was, I think, Erna Brodber’s Myal. Reading it felt sort of like having a slightly insane older person whispering gossip at me on the bus.

MEGGIE GREEN: my favorite book i read this year was “nobody is ever missing” by catherine lacey. i miss it and i wish i hadn’t read it yet.

THEO THIMO: Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon. I never actually finished this book but I really enjoyed the first few hundred pages. I would have finished it if my kindle didn’t break. 

TIMOTHY WILLIS SANDERS: my favorite this year was “A Short History of World War I” by James L Stokesbury. i like history and the author is funny and engaging.

CASSANDRA DE ALBA: the book of joshua by zachary schomburg. it was the first time in a while when i had the sense of forcing myself to read slower & take breaks so i could really appreciate it instead of rushing through like i wanted to.

PAUL RIZZA: the luminaries by eleanor catton: against the backdrop of the new zealand gold rush, 12 men try to extricate themselves from a conspiracy veritably dostoevskian in magnitude, involving possible murders and thefts of massive fortunes, each behaving according to the astrological houses the novel assigns them and the real-world planetary movements of 1865 and 1866. stop me when this starts sounding incredible..

JOHN MORTARA: my favorite book that i read this year is called NEXT STOP ADVENTURE! and it’s a book made up of zines about this guy biking and hitchhiking and dumpster diving across the united states and it’s just really positive and motivating and hilarious and fun and it makes me feel brave.

LUCY K SHAW: Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz or Women by Chloe Caldwell. I read them back to back this summer and they both made me feel inspired to write more honestly. 

ROSHAN ABRAHAM: my favorite book that i read this year was black life by dorothea lasky. i liked it because it gave me lots of feelings and then i felt all of them! here are some of the feelings….whoa….wow…hm…..whaa…haha…uh. holy sh**..wow..prayer emoji… It is written in the voice of an inner child that we have all been trained to suppress but it’s the inner child dealing with pain, embarrassment, existential dread, perpetually delayed gratification, love, terror. i get all worked up just thinking about it! gosh.

RACHAEL LEE NELSON: May-Lan Tan’s “Things To Make and Break,” because every single story was original and interesting, every sentence was perfect, and when I put it down I couldn’t stop wondering how a person could kill it so hard.

ALEX MANLEY: Sorrow Arrow by Emily Kendal Frey - Sorrowful, piercing, vibrant, unexpected. Poetry the way we feel, like shards of concrete pointing up to the sky after an earthquake.

PANCHO ESPINOSA: My favorite book I read this year is called O Alienista (“The Alienist” in English), it’s in Portguese and it is written by Brazilian novelist and poet Machado de Assis. In this book I found a great synergy between prose style and content, one unable to be grasped without the other.

EVAN LEED: my book is The Diary of Anais Nin Volume 1. This was making long-overdue amends for idolizing Henry Miller in my early 20s and I feel like a dumbass for not reading it years ago and I think it’s been a long time since I’ve tripped out so much on something new (to me).

CHRIS DANKLAND: This year I fell deeply in love with The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich. I’ve read it twice this year, and I want to read it again soon. It’s about hobo vampire junkies. I love the complexity of this book, and I love the way it talks to me. An excerpt: “There is something about being 17 and being immortal, like wishing you could turn into a magical being and then waking up, looking into the mirror, and seeing that you are. Cuz you can’t see shit and you know it happened, you turned vampire.

SCOTT LAUDATI: "Murder City" by Charles Bowden details the current state of Juarez. There are about thirty murders per page, so much cocaine, and no happy ending. Plus, he just died, so R.I.P.

KEEGAN CRAWFORD: Endgame by Samuel Beckett was the most memorable work I read this year. It was kind of funny, kind of nightmarish. It’s a really unsettling play.

OSCAR BRUNO D’ARTOIS: my favorite books of 2014 as far as i can remember were sprezzatura by mike young & hill william by scott mcclanahan. (can u pick 2 if one’s fiction & the other’s poetry? well anyway that’s wat im doing.) Here’s my reasonings: sprezzatura i found myself halfconsciously repeating phrases from in my head (normal for me), reciting bits & pieces of out loud (less normal b/c less socially acceptable) & even accidentally memorizing the first poem of (dont think ive memorized a whole poem, intentionally or otherwise, since the 4th grade). as for hill william, it sort of ‘sold’ me on scott’s writing, & i think in comparison to say crapalachia it felt a bit ‘underrated’ to me, like there is one kind of weird scene where 3 of the characters r watching porn & one of them ‘whips it out’ & the other is upset by this & well anyway u can read the book yrslf if u wanna find out wat happens, but the point is this scene the buildup to it & its aftermath just seemed to kind of ‘justify’ the whole sometimes dramatic sweep of scott’s writing, & made me feel understood & fricked & filled w a kind of, ah, sense of the tragi-comico-erotic nature of life? or something.

SARAH JEAN ALEXANDER: The best book I read in 2014 is Mark Cugini’s “I’m Just Happy To Be Here.” There is a poem in it titled ‘Appoggiaturas’ which is the best poem I’ve read this year. Here is part of it:

I don’t mean to leave you alone on this continent, but the truth is
there’s no such thing as a meaningful voice mail anymore—
there’s nothing left but silence in my pocket,
the 2 AM walks to the corner deli that
neither of us needed, and the 600 empty calories
that prove pain, too, is a flavor.
JOHNNY BRYAN: Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me by Mark Leidner – because it’s too good, it made me want to quit poetry… but then it also reminded me of whatever it was that made me write poems in the first place, whatever reason anyone could possibly have to write a poem… and I carry it around with me in my backpack a lot, and I keep going back to it like I keep going back to poetry.

FISAYO ADEYEYE: One thing I liked reading this year was Matthew Henriksen’s Ordinary Sun. It’s narrative was sparse but somehow also seemed pretty densely packed. Reading it felt like watching hundreds of angels fall from the sky into a lake.

MATT NELSONi just read wittgenstein jr and it was fun! alexis pope’s new poetry book is wonderful.

EVAN BENDER: Art in Theory 1900 - 2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas , my art history textbook for the past year or so, It’s got lots of artist manifestos and excerpts from books, I guess its interesting to think that people I have met may end up in a book like this someday.

JENN KUCHARCZYK: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. While Atwood is this pillar of Canadian lit, I associated her novels with my mom’s book club circles growing up. I didn’t anticipate being so mesmerized by this book that was sharp and uncomfortable and presented an all-too-probable post-apocalypse that was clocking doubletime, looking at issues of sexual violence, class politics, our want to control but be free of responsibility… It felt like a good dose of honest therapy. And still managed to be funny enough. Really, I mean, there’s no one that’s entirely likeable, and you kind of see yourself in the one of many psychopaths. 

JACOB PERKINS: The best book I read this year was “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit, which I read last night front to back. While mostly about The Patriarchy as it pertains to women, so many (almost all) marginalized peoples came to mind. Books like this suck the blood out of the Darren Wilsons of the world, and the courts who protect them.

NATALIE CHIN: rly strong tie between Bark by Lorrie Moore — all eight of the short stories mostly abt trying to understand the end of desire, in people around you + yourself — & Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez — felt nice to sink back into a book with a heavy rolling perfect plot

P.S the new issue of SHABBY DOLL HOUSE is coming later this month. more announcements soon <3

What I learned this year:

  • I really need to buy SJA more books of poetry. That said, aww <3.
  • If I was in a room with Oscar, I’d say “Going with grace again,” and he’d respond “going again with grace” and then there’d be some light on our weird skin.
  • Johnny Bryan is my dream husband…
  • as is Rachel Lee Nelson.
  • Despite my own assumptions, people are still reading things on Kindles.
  • Me & Matt Nelson both love the same fucking book.