Books Read in 2020

December 31, 2020 8:25 pm | | No Comments

I think the last four blog posts on this site have been about books I have read in a given year. I’m not sure. I kinda hit “create” without giving it too much thought, intending to paste in the list of books I read this year, hit “save draft” and worry about finishing later. I’ve done this frequently in 2020–get halfway through something and abandon it–and I’ll try not to beat myself up too much about it, but I really don’t blame the pandemic for this lack of focus and completion.

I skip around quite a bit with my reading. You’ll notice I’ve read a lot of James Baldwin, Lee Child, and Ali Smith, which is a peculiar trifecta. Also, lots of baseball books, which is my go-to reading right before I fall asleep at night. It’s hours before midnight, and I’m pooped, so I don’t have a lot of coherent thoughts on this last at the moment, but perhaps over the long weekend, I’ll add more to this. Or not. We’ll see.

Anyway, here is the list: (more…)

Books Read in 2019

December 30, 2019 5:38 am | | No Comments

It’s been a little while since I’ve been bloggy, eh?

Here is the complete list of books I read in 2019. Or, more accurate, the complete list of books I read all the way through this year, ignoring the books I didn’t quite finish or only picked through. Throughout the year, I keep a running long on a Word document on my computer; I like to look back and try to remember how I moved from one book to the next, what logic (if any) I can retroactively apply to the decision to close one book and pick up the next one. I read several Elmore Leonard novels because I had the Library of America collections of his short books, and it was easy to move from the end of one to the beginning of the next.

I’m not sure this reveals anything particularly insightful about my reading this past year. I’m aware of the times where I read very little, bogged down by my own writing or reading manuscripts for Story, and didn’t make the effort to read books. It’s always interesting to recall which books have made a lasting imprint on me and which ones I think “oh, right, I read that”.

In alphabetical (hopefully) order, here ’tis:

Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Anagnorisis: Poems by Kyle Dargan

The Art of Dumpster Diving by Jennifer Moses

As Close to Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell

Blood Work by Michael Connelly

Boom Town: The Fantastic Saga of Oklahoma City, its Chaotic Founding… its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis by Sam Anderson

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Fifty-Two Pickup by Elmore Leonard

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Go Ahead in the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib

Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery by Christine Aschwanden

The Hazards of Good Fortune by Seth Greenfield

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh

Honeypot by Brenna Womer

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home by Now: Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie by Christopher Ingraham

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

LeBron, Inc.: The Making of a Billion Dollar Athlete by Brian Windhorst

Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson

The Man They Wanted Me to Be by Jared Sexton

The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. by Evan Ratliff

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son’s Search for Home by Michael Brendan Dougherty

No-No Boy by John Okada

On Immunity: an Inoculation by Eula Biss

One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark by Cecelia Watson

61 Hours by Lee Child

The Story of STORY Magazine: A Memoir by Martha Foley

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Swag by Elmore Leonard

That Time I Loved You: Stories by Carrianne Leung

The Switch by Elmore Leonard

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Taxidermist’s Catalog by James Brubaker

Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard

The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks

Virgin: Poems by Analicia Sotelo

Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard

When Rap Spoke to God by Erica Dawson

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye

Books Read in 2018

December 18, 2018 6:03 am | | No Comments

This year, I read more than 60 books, which is a new high for me since I’ve been keeping track starting in 2009. On a Word document on my computer, I keep a chronological list of what I’ve read, and I find it fascinating to see how I move from one book to another, remembering why I finished, say, Margaret Atwood and then next picked up Edith Wharton. Sometimes there is a logic to it, and sometimes not. Sometimes I have to remind myself why I read a particular book.

And I write that as I’ve gotten much better at giving up on a book I don’t like. I give a book about 75 pages and if I’m actively thinking “This is terrible” I leap ahead, skim the last three chapters, and put it away. I haven’t included the books I gave up on, but there were more than a few.

In addition to these books, of course, there are all the submissions I read for Boulevard and Story. And the New York Times and Columbus Dispatch on the weekends, the New Yorker, and all the online reading I do, particularly Vox and The Athletic. That’s a lot of reading! Anyway, here’s what I read in alphabetical order (probably) with some additional thoughts at the end.


Books Read in 2017

December 21, 2017 1:36 pm | | No Comments

Since 2009, I’ve kept a reading log on my laptop of the books I’ve read in the calendar year. I’m not sure this tells you anything all that interesting, but I like to look back at what I’ve read and see the connections between my reading choices, however tenuous those connections might be. This list only includes the books that I’ve read in its entirety, not books that I’ve picked through (story and poetry collections often fall under this category) or given up (novels that I will not list here – hey, not every book is for every reader). Two or three are re-reads. Believe it or not, I have, in fact, read Gatsby before. So! Here they are:


Recovery Days: First Post-Op Doctor’s Appointment

September 27, 2017 3:02 pm | Tags: , | No Comments

This past Monday, I had my first post-operation follow-up appointment. It wasn’t with my surgeon, who I have, so far, talked to for perhaps three minutes on the day of the operation. On that day, the orthopedic surgeon showed up with about a dozen others (Ohio State is a teaching hospital/medical program) in green scrubs. Barely making eye contact, the surgeon explained how there would be two incisions to set the tibia with “hardware” inserted into my leg, and that the surgery should talk about two and a half hours.

I’ve never spoken to him again.

The nurses and physician’s assistants at Ohio State have been godsends. They’re the ones focused on patient care, on the day-to-day of managing pain and medications and mobility, patiently answering my questions and providing me the information I didn’t even know to ask. So I was very happy that this week, I got meet my PA, a man named Matthew, who would deliver the verdict on the current state of my recovery.


Recovery Days: Broken Tibia Post-Op Life

September 14, 2017 11:53 am | Tags: | No Comments

Approximately one week ago, I broke my leg playing basketball. I jumped for a pass, came down with a hyperextended knee, and when my right leg took all the weight, I suffered medial and lateral tibial plateau fractures. Surgery Friday, home on Saturday. I wrote about it in my TinyLetter earlier this week.

As you might imagine, there is little else on my mind right now other than recovering from this trauma. (more…)

The Books of 2018 You Must Read

September 7, 2017 9:30 am | | No Comments

How do you decide what book to buy and read? There might be two separate questions and two separate answers in there. I have a great many books on my bookshelves that I have bought and never read. Some of them will get read eventually. Some will be gifted away or donated. Some will never get read. I don’t entirely know why, but that’s okay. In short, we often need several reminders to pick up a book. Sure, we might be excited about the newest Zadie Smith, but for the vast majority of authors, we have to remind readers over and over again to pick up a copy of our book (and probably Zadie’s, too). Which is fine: there are so many books published every week so it is very difficult to keep track.

Since I have a novel coming out in 2018 and have learned how important it is to make your readership aware as early and often as possible, I want to do the same for other authors. Help people find even more great books to read. More the merry and all that. So I just asked Literary Twitter for help:

I received dozens of responses. To each and everyone that shared my tweet and suggested additions: thank you! Keep ’em coming, folks: I plan on updating this post throughout the year. If you can do so, please do pre-order these books: it’s a long story, but it really does a tremendous amount of good for helping each author find a wider readership. Without further ado, here’s the list:


Conversing with Magazine Editors

April 20, 2016 7:01 am | | One Comment

This coming Saturday April 23rd, I will be attending the Conversations and Connections conference in Washington, DC. This one day conference brings together writers, editors, and publishers in a friendly, supportive environment. The past two years, this conference has been held in Pittsburgh, and is returning this weekend to the magazine’s roots in The District. This conference is organized by the fine folks at Barrelhouse Magazine, and I was invited to attend by my friend, founding editor Dave Housley.

I’m participating in two events: Speed Dating with Editors and the Editors’ Panel. Should be a good time. On the Editors’ Panel, I’ll be with Marcos Martinez, Michelle Webber, Emily Rich, and Nate Brown to discuss all sorts of editorial issues, questions, and (hopefully) answers. Here’s the boilerplate from the conference website:

Editors from a number of new and established literary magazines and small presses discuss the ins and outs and nuts and bolts of both sides of the literary fence: researching and submitting work, and reviewing the work that comes in through the proverbial (and now mostly virtual) slush pile, from what gets them excited about a story/poem/essay/book to the kinds of mistakes that might make your writing easy to reject. Questions will be taken from the audience, as well as pre-conference via email and Twitter.

All of which sounds terrific. But I’ve recently been thinking about something else in regards to editing.


Teaching Literary Magazines in the Classroom

February 17, 2016 3:15 pm | Tags: , , | No Comments

At AWP 2015, I was one of five panelists discussing literary magazines and how to teach them in a classroom. Along with my colleagues Rebecca Morgan Frank, Rachel May, Jenn Scheck-Kahn, and Christina Thompson, we discussed the various ways that a literary magazine can be integrated into a college classroom. It’s a pretty good discussion that was, if I remember right, held on Saturday afternoon, toward the tail end of the conference when everyone is running out of steam, and yet, the whole thing went well and I had a wonderful time participating.

If you want to skip ahead, I chime in around the 21:30 mark. But you should listen to the whole thing! It’s good and stuff. Enough hype: listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye

Books Read in 2015

January 5, 2016 3:58 pm | Tags: , | No Comments

Since 2009, I have kept track of every book that I read. The file name on my computer is “Books Read in 2009,” which is kind of funny, since it actually covers books I’ve read in each of the last six years, but I can’t be bothered to name it something different. I started doing this many years ago when the writer Matt Bell started posting the books that he read. Now, if I remember right, Matt read a LOT of books, way more than I did, and I was a little jealous that he could get through so many books in one calendar year. I’ve since learned to let go of such jealous, but I have continued to maintain the annual reading list. Why? Not really sure. I like tracking stuff?

Here’s a few notes before I get to the list: