I've read 12 and a half books this year


Not to brag or anything, but I have read 12 and a half books this year. I am bragging a little bit, but only to my past self, who read approximately 3 books last year, and maybe 2 the year before, and then no books for years and years and years, not since I was a teenager and I understood that books could be so good. I forgot for a while. I couldn’t go near them. This is my own fault. I thought that in order to be a writer, I needed to figure it out on my own. I couldn’t look at the answers!!! Then it wouldn’t count!!! I’m an idiot. After we handed in the manuscript for our own book a few months ago, I got an Audible subscription and now I am sick with the knowledge I should have been reading this whole time – sick because other people’s writing is more enjoyable than my own, and more interesting, and they go about a sentence in ways I wouldn’t imagine, and oh my god I am so sick about this that I have not stopped reading since. Here is what I’ve read:


📖 Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022)

📕 A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin (1968)

💧 Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (2020)

🌊 Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield (2022)

👼🏻 Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (1992)


🐋 Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan (2004. Translated in 2023)

🛣️ The Concrete Island by JG Ballard (1974)

🌃 High Rise by JG Ballard (1975)


🌊 The Drowned World by JG Ballard (1962)

🪐 Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles (2021)

🐈‍⬛ Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson (2016)

🖼️ Second Place by Rachel Cusk (2021)

🍆 All Fours by Miranda July (2024) (okay I’m 50 pages off the end)

I started by reading things other people spoke about, and then I asked our readers what I should actually be reading based on some of the things I’ve been writing lately. I want to get better. I want to close the distance between these writers and myself, and part of the sickness is that if I had been reading this whole time, I think that gap would be a lot less intimidating. My favourite of this list has been Concrete Island, because it is minimal without being boring; short without being curt; and it interrogates oppression in a way I’ve never seen before. I liked it for its criticism, but I preferred Poor Things more on that count. What a book. On the rest, in order –

Tomorrow gave me so much second-hand stress because the characters really did feel so real, and I knew nothing about it, and the writing on chronic pain (and denial around pain) really hit me like a jumpscare (because a relative was going through something horrific at the same time, all because they never told anyone what was happening to their body). So, I remember that book for its creative anguish and its interpersonal anguish and inner anguish and that’s the stain it has left on my brain.

A Wizard of Earthsea I kinda found hard to listen to. Too straightforward, wished I’d read it when I was a kid. Hamnet was just interesting form-wise. Couldn’t stop thinking about who I would want to write a Hamnet about. And then that last chapter was devastating and so urgent, like the hot rush when you feel tears storming out, and I was glad I’d read Hamnet to feel that in a book. I inhaled Our Wives Under The Sea because the register of its horror made it so easy to inhale. Whale was a harder book in all aspects. Hardy. The hardiest book I’ve maybe ever read. High Rise was like a book with no third act because by the second act all the characters had decided they loved the chaos that initially seemed like the books antagonist, and they wanted to keep the chaos as a pet. The Drowned World was a bit racist. Deep Wheel Orcadia was like the game Citizen Sleeper, if Citizen Sleeper was a beautiful poem. The short stories by Shirley Jackson in Dark Tales must have blown people’s minds when they first came out but I was a little bit underwhelmed, except for the story about the man who has locked his wife in the house because she’s been receiving love letters from someone, and he thinks she is cheating on him – only for Shirley to reveal it is the husband writing the letters!!! That one was good. Second Place is a beach read for middle-aged gallery directors (women) about a remote residency for artists. I am not one for books about yearning. I prefer a mess, which is why All Fours was a good book to follow it with. All Four is also for middle-aged women but mostly for everyone who gets excited at the idea of packing a bag in the middle of the night and secretly running away from their lives, never to be seen or heard from again. I think Shirley Jackson would have liked it, if she hadn’t died in the 60s. She was obsessed with women running away from their lives. I guess there’s a lot to run away from, isn’t there?

I want to go back to JG Ballard next. I think I need to. Then I will return to the list you lot have provided me. My New Years Resolution was to read 12 books this year but I have already done it. I think I will read 100000 more.