For the last three years, I have written a year-end retrospective. I have usually paired my written memories with photographs I've taken over the year. Unsurprisingly my photographic output this year was low — since I started shooting film, this is the first year that I've shot fewer than twenty rolls.
So when I began to think about how to describe the year that's passed, I realized that the main thing I have done this year (besides panic) is read books. To be specific, this year, I read sixty books. For this wild year which soon comes to an unceremonious close, I am writing about some of these books, and what I was doing while reading them, with a few photographs here and there.
Since most of these books came from the library, without which I would be lost, I don't have them in my possession anymore. This retrospective is about the parts of the books that have stuck with me: the descriptions of Hawaii in Sharks in the Time of Saviors, the outfits that Marianne from Normal People wore in her short-lived single phase, the long trek through the snow in Perfect Tunes, just to name a few. This is also about the first year I spent living with a romantic partner; my boyfriend Tyler features heavily in this retrospective.
If nothing else, having looked back on these books and their place in an unusual year has made my memory feel stronger. To know that I have strengthened something in 2020 is an achievement. In case no one has reminded you lately: just having survived 2020 is an achievement. Here are some memories for you, I hope they find you well*.
At the end of 2019, I picked up a stomach bug so bad that I skipped the champagne we had in the apartment on New Year's Eve. That said, neither Tyler nor I can fully remember if there was even champagne here. I do remember watching The Big Fat Quiz of 2019 before finding a livestream of Whoever’s Rockin’ New Years Eve. The bug lingered, and we were both sick on and off for the first week of the month. We both swore that neither of us would get sick for the rest of the year.
On January 1st, 2020, Tyler was knee-deep in playing Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch that I had just bought us for Christmas. Nursing a still-queasy stomach, I laid in bed and read the better part of Normal People by Sally Rooney. If I'm not engaged with the writing, or don't have the time to read a good chunk of a book in one sitting, it often doesn't get finished. The pace of Normal People carried me right along.
I paged through descriptions of young adults against a wintry Irish backdrop and thought of my trip to Ireland in 2019. I thought about how the TV adaptation of Normal People was about to be released, and how the book made Barack Obama's nineteen favorite books of 2019. I thought about how I was absolutely clueless in high school and college, and counted myself lucky to feel more mature and level-headed than the two protagonists. Marianne and Connell's legacies seem to predate them, though; it makes me wonder how many high school English teachers will compare Shakespearian characters to the protagonists in an effort to engage students (I can't say I wouldn't do this!).
It feels particularly emblematic that we spent the first day of the year this way; I spent a lot of the year lying around reading, and Tyler spent a lot of the year playing video games in the other room. In keeping with traditions, I made sure to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, because I could hear my mom’s voice in the back of my head (and my sister’s in the front of it). I have a memory of cooking sometime in January and reading news about Covid's impact on China with a sort of removed anxiety.
ALSO READ IN JANUARY
Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Stars by Jake Skeets
Fly Already by Etgar Keret
Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
Some books are hard sells — inaccessible, detached, and completely devoid of context. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is the furthest thing from a hard sell. Its references are prescient and many, while its settings still feel wild. If I could, I would press a volume of this book into the hands of anyone who has ever even thought about writing lyrically, in poem or prose.
This book about the love between a mother and a son was one of the first books about family, identity, and love that I had read since losing my mother. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden also comes to mind, which I read last Thanksgiving. I've been thinking about the way Vuong weaves shreds of memoir into his effusive prose all year, and am truly grateful this book came to me when it did.
This celebrated book was also one of those books that absolutely made me want to write after reading it. I've long tried to perfect a poetic way of writing prose, and this book feels like the platonic ideal of that sentiment. I was proud of Vuong's fearlessness for having published this magnificent and vulnerable book, and I wanted to embody some of that fearlessness myself.
The more I look back on February of this year the more I am thrown by how different everything was. In February, I read Arbitrary Stupid Goal by Tamara Shopsin, which had a few wonderful scenes of the West Village in an early 80s wintertime. I wish that book’s depiction of winter would play out in New York, today: watching the old cars that line the streets collect snow from the window of a family diner, full of the character, liveliness, and warmth that seems to have left this city behind in 2020.
But in February there was life. I turned 25 on a crystal-clear Wednesday. It was cold enough to need a jacket but warm enough to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, while on the phone with Dan, on the way to Magic Jewelry to get my aura read. Two days later I danced with friends in a club in Bed-Stuy, and lost my voice screaming “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. The next day I went to the Korean day spa in New Jersey with Caiti, and read Soft Science by Franny Choi between the sauna and a foot massage.
A week later I visited Richmond to see my two sisters and Ryan and my nephews. In Maryland, I said goodbye to the house I grew up in, crying on my dad's shoulder in the driveway, and got in the car with him to drive the last of my things up to New York. I remember the Cinnabon I ate at the Delaware House rest stop, and I remember the nachos I had with Tyler that evening to celebrate what was then his new job on March 1st. As far away as all of this feels, even though I can't logistically get up and do most of these things tomorrow if I wanted, February is still crystallized in my memory.
ALSO READ IN FEBRUARY
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
In early March, I sat up in bed reading Cleanness by Garth Greenwell while Tyler slept next to me. He had just bought a new mattress pad, which was lavender both in color and scent. The smell comes to mind when I think of this book, and of the dual-edged sword of Greenwell's prose: at times appropriately flowery, at times sickly-sweet. It was pure fate that I received this book from my library holds list right after I returned On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: two unabashedly queer and beautiful books. I imagine a lavender-scented mattress pad might have a place in either book.
Thinking back on how I read a book called Cleanness at the American onset of a global pandemic would be more darkly funny to me if the pandemic were not so ugly. There is a clear delineation of the before and the after, in my memory. Two days after I moved in with Tyler, he told me he felt winded coming up the stairs to our apartment. This was March 23rd, according to the pages-long entry in my Notes app, which goes on to detail the symptoms, temperatures, medicines, foods, and various treatments of my Covid-stricken boyfriend. The only doctor we could get hold of in March told us to assume it was Covid (there were few tests then), stay inside, and not go to the ER unless it became absolutely necessary.
So for an entire month that's what we did. Outside, we heard the nightly applause at 7pm, breaking up what felt like never-ending sirens. Our building made a tenant's group with the intent of helping those stuck inside, so we were lucky to have food and everything we needed. We are both healthy and safe today, but I still wake up some nights and touch his chest to make sure he's still breathing in his sleep. Terrors aside, there is no one else I would have wanted to be stuck inside with, and I'm grateful every day for how lucky we both were.
I wish I could say that my reading became voracious in this period but it didn't. I'm reminded of the time I tried to read Calvin and Hobbes while my mom was in her hospital bed, to comfort myself, and bursting into tears before I could even get through one panel. There was a lot of that in March and April: unexpected emotional reactions. Caretaking also took up a good amount of energy.
Ross Gay's Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude was an absolute balm during this period. I don't want to romanticize this, but during the first months of the pandemic, it felt like everyone else was on the wavelength I’m usually on, in terms of nostalgia and memory. Gay's poems are the complete embodiment of this: clear, perfect memories spun in the amber haze of his poetic voice. Even the painful moments in his poetry are imbued with beauty, and love, and an omniscient sense of, “Isn't it wild that we are all alive for all of this, right now?” All month I craved that feeling, that wonderment, among the chaos, and these poems gave me that.
ALSO READ IN MARCH
The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
After most of Tyler's symptoms began to go away and my vision didn't feel so tunneled, my body began to remind me of how poorly I'd treated it. I spent one April night in the comfy chair in the living room reading Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould in the wee hours of the morning, because there was no other way to calm my heartburn. Greenlight Bookstore’s virtual event for Perfect Tunes was the first of many online readings I "attended" in 2020, and also introduced me to the treasure that is Naomi Fry. Much like Normal People, Perfect Tunes tugged me along insistently, and I followed it all the way to its sweet, quiet ending.
Perfect Tunes was comforting because of its closeness — set in New York, written by and about a music lover like me. The next book I read, The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, was comforting because of its splay of perspectives, settings, and characters. The Glass Hotel is dazzling in its richness, and being in quarantine while reading about a character based off of Bernie Madoff descending into a madness of his own making felt particularly karmic. Tyler suggested I read Station Eleven because I loved The Glass Hotel so much, but I still don't think it's quite safe enough for my psyche to read a book about a plague. It's in my pile of books to read.
To speak to that terror, I finished reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion this month. I have long been a fan of Didion, and April felt like the most appropriate time to try and grasp that same sense of heartbreaking humanity I got from Ross Gay's poems. I found that humanity in Magical Thinking, at the expense of being reminded of mortality and loss whenever I finished a section. I broke up Didion's intense analyses of grief with a series of erotica novels by Jenny Trout that reminded me that I have, and will have once all of this is over, a body that deserves love, just as my book-loving brain does. I’m not looking forward to feeling that need in my life again, but I’m glad that when I need that book it will be there for me to come back to.
I paired my foray back into the loving arms of Joan Didion with wearing high-waisted jeans (why did I bother putting jeans on? To feel a sense of purpose), enjoying white wine for the first time, and leaving the apartment for the first time in a calendar month. I went to the grocery store like a bandit with a debit card, which is still my approach, getting in and out as quickly as possible. I also sat out on the balcony and went for a few walks as the sun set, enjoying the easiest allergy season of my life, since I was still spending most of my time inside.
In March, my dad sold the house I grew up in, and during April I texted back and forth with him at length about what he should and shouldn’t take with him to Virginia. One of Tyler's resounding memories of April is being in and out of his Covid fever at the beginning of the month while I laid next to him, playing a video game called Coffee Talk and bringing him cool towels while he dozed next to me.
ALSO READ IN APRIL
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
On May 1st I helped my boss move his office out of the nicest Chelsea workspace I'll ever have access to, and said goodbye to my full-time job. Tyler and I got antibody tests right after this. I had (and have never had, according to CityMD tests as of 12/21/2020) zero Covid antibodies, which at that point meant I hadn't had it at all. He tested positive for antibodies but they didn't want to give him an active infection test.
May was a more "nothing" month than March and April, if for no other reason than I did very, very little this month. I got very into old Mac software briefly — some of this retrospective was written on Microsoft Word 6, in an effort to separate myself from the distractions of the internet. I bought new houseplants and jeans on sale. I saw Caiti a few times before she moved to California, and we walked through Prospect Park in our face masks on my first Mothers' Day without my mom.
In the same way I rip through other books I love, I ripped through Godshot by Chelsea Bieker. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did, not because the premise didn't interest me, but just because I had no clue what to expect. I didn't expect to feel the deep-seated-Fried- Green-Tomatoes-type love for Godshot’s protagonist. I didn't expect to be so invigorated by a narrative I have not lived, or to feel like I was flooring the gas on the highway while sitting in my bathtub in Brooklyn. I didn't expect it, and yet there it was, waiting for me. Few books make me cry, but this one tore me up in the same way that I tore through its pages.
Similarly, I had some visceral reactions to reading Constellations by Sinead Gleeson. I remember feeling so angry and sad and empathetic for Gleason as I read her autobiographical essays, and also so glad and proud that she is able to write about her experiences so plainly. The last essay in her collection, in particular, had me sobbing. Her work touched the same nerve that On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous did, the softest part of me I often keep hidden. I was grateful to open my heart to both books.
Tyler stayed mostly healthy through May, and at the end of the month a wicked secondary infection (not Covid; no longer a problem) sent him to the emergency room for a terrifying few hours. Taking my potentially very sick partner to the emergency room in the middle of a global pandemic, and not even being allowed to sit in the waiting room, was a very low point of my year. He came home a few hours later, and I brought his fever down while devouring delivery sushi and Elton John's memoir, Me. We had watched Rocketman at Tyler's behest a few weeks before this, and I had flashes of Taron Egerton's face alongside Elton John's while I read his absolute tome of a memoir. Feeling like I had a friend in Elton John while making sure the last of Tyler's symptoms subsided was invaluable.
ALSO READ IN MAY
I Know You Know Who I Am by Peter Kispert
And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould
The same day Tyler went to the ER, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. The following Friday, there were unparalleled protests in New York. I saw the first video from 2020 of a person taken to the ground by a police officer for protesting. What I saw on my phone is nothing compared to what others see, in person, day after day, in other parts of the United States, and so I protested police brutality on Flatbush Avenue. The virus was beginning to ebb in New York, but between the curfews and the continued sirens, it still felt uneasy.
Much of June was spent the same as May: trying to convince myself it was safe to do things like take public transportation, go for a walk in the park, buy things from the store when I needed to. One thing people forget about the pandemic is how staggeringly little we know, even now. Still, Tyler and I had a little birthday picnic in the park for him, just the two of us on our beach blanket. We visited his mom in Connecticut the following weekend. I started a part-time job, and began commuting for the first time in three months. I started writing a story that I have shared with four other people.
My reading stagnated with the new job. I told myself I'd read on the hour-long bus ride to and from work but I usually just sat and panicked. The laziness of summer set in, and my list of library holds started to dwindle. I was able to read several of the books in this retrospective less than a month after their release, for which I feel very lucky. One of these books was The Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson, an eerie bildungsroman elbow-deep in magic realism. I remember a storm picking up in the distance while I read this on the balcony, waiting for my toenail polish to dry.
I also read Citizen by Claudia Rankine in one sitting, which I felt like sort of missed the point. I keep meaning to buy a copy to keep around because, to me, its brevity means it should be revisited often, and the way the poetry grapples with its subject matter means the book won't age. At the risk of sounding prescriptive I think every non-Black person in America should be required to read Citizen a couple of times a year. As I write this I'm about to add it to my library holds list again.
ALSO READ IN JUNE
Felt in the Jaw by Kristen Arnett
Books 3 and 4 in The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Where June was tense and anxious, July felt relaxed. I have few memories of July besides one or two trips to Brighton Beach. Tyler and I celebrated our first anniversary on the 14th, surprising each other with cards and flowers. We then proceeded to watch an episode of Stranger Things where my handsome husband David Harbour breathes in spores and starts coughing and I had a full-on anxiety attack and decided to continue avoiding even the most slightly spooky media.
Aberrations aside, the month was pleasant. My job was relatively easy, and I was able to save some money for the first time since 2018 thanks to the federal pandemic unemployment assistance. I listened to a new Rufus Wainwright release frequently on my way to and from work. I laced up a pair of roller skates for the first time in July and haven't stopped rolling since.
I read the majority of Jacqueline Woodson's Red at the Bone during one bus ride home, which I think was the second-best place I could have read that book. The best place would have been on a stoop in Park Slope, leaned against a stone railing, as the sun sets in the middle of summer. Red at the Bone featured neighborhoods I've lived in, in all their messy, fraught glory. The family dynamics in this book can be described similarly. I want every Brooklynite, and everyone with a unique family dynamic like mine, to read this book.
ALSO READ IN JULY
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
Recently I saw a tweet that said, "As a therapist I can say confidently, that while therapy is helpful, what most people really need is money." The end of July saw the end of the federal unemployment benefits (until the backdated, lower amounts issued to New Yorkers in September) and a big change in my lifestyle and demeanor.
That said, I read seven books in August. Two of them took more than one or two days to get through: Real Life by Brandon Taylor and Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. The latter has stuck with me more than the former. Surprising nobody, most of the books I read in 2020 that have stuck with me have dealt with family and growth and grief. August 18th was the first anniversary of my mother's death; my habit of seeking out those aforementioned themes is probably worth mentioning to my new therapist in 2021.
What I loved most about Sharks was what I loved about a few other books I read this year: the way Washburn uses multiple perspectives to tell a story. Perfect Tunes, for example, is largely carried by one protagonist with some occasional shifts in perspective, and All Adults Here changes characters without seeming to change voice or timbre — you can tell Straub is writing the book the whole time. Washburn writes every character in Sharks with a distinct voice, as well as development and motive, in a way that few other fictional characters are written. I am reminded of Middlesex by Geoffrey Eugenides. This was a truly lovely book that I was glad to take my time reading.
While other books I read in August weren't read as pensively, I still enjoyed them deeply. Among my “quick” reads were Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby, which made me instantly subscribe to her Substack after finishing. Conversely, I sought out Heather Havrilesky's What If This Were Enough? because of her Ask Polly column in The Cut, for which I don't have enough writing space on the internet to express my love.
I ripped through Luster by Raven Leilani, spending the entire time praying it wouldn't give me “Cat Person” vibes and being thoroughly relieved that it didn't. I followed that up immediately with Being Lolita by Alisson Wood, which was compelling in a different way. I wanted to consume all of Luster quickly because the story was lascivious and gripping in an intriguing way, like being swayed into staying later at the club because they keep playing good songs; I wanted to consume all of Being Lolita quickly because my RA instincts kicked in and I wanted to make sure Wood got home safely at the end of it. I felt this way while reading Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito, too. While Luster is fictional, my heart still went out to Edie as it did to the writers Wood and Esposito.
We visited Tyler's mom at the beginning and the end of August. Both times I roller skated in the driveway in between eating pepperoni bread and talking to MaryAnne about books. At the beginning of August she loaned me a stack from her collection.
In this stack of books was Euphoria by Lily King. I knew that Writers and Lovers was on my library holds list, and I decided to do the opposite of what I normally do: prepare for reading a book I hoped to enjoy by reading an earlier release from that author. In terms of many writers I love, I began with their buzzy new book and then went back and read what they wrote previously.
In the instance of Lily King, this was a mistake! Euphoria made me angry in the same ways that Trust Exercise by Susan Choi did. Euphoria is loosely based on the story of Margaret Mead. What King fictionalized to create intrigue and mystery came off, to me, as unnecessary violence towards a female character. I may be wrong, but when writers as talented as King and Choi write celebrated books that employ these tactics (unnecessary violence towards female characters), it leaves a foul taste in my mouth.
To return to Writers and Lovers: this book was the big writerly hug that I needed in September. The summer days had started to dwindle, and I began to get uneasy about the slow uptick in Covid cases in New York. I kept taking the bus and the subway, I kept going outside to roller skate and shop for necessities. At the end of August I scanned film, and did so again towards the end of October, but at no point could I afford to make it a constant habit. All the while, I had been loosely writing the story I mentioned in June without much dedication.
All of which to say, I was looking for something to keep me going, and I found it in Writers and Lovers. It gave me that little kick in my side that told me to write, and to keep at it consistently. It also reminded me that hardships, while at times are all-encompassing, are largely temporary. It has a brilliantly sweet ending that warms my heart as I remember it.
This month begins my usual end-of-year tailspin. I don't think I've written anything substantive about the past few Octobers, Novembers, or Decembers in recent years, and I am not going to try and outdo myself this year. I read the entirety of Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier, another blisteringly vulnerable debut novel, while listening to the Coffee Talk soundtrack in the bathtub.
As the storm of the election (and rising Covid cases, and a million other tumults) brewed in the distance, the NYPL granted me an appropriately anxiety-inducing book: The Topeka School by Ben Lerner. The novel employs character and voice changes similarly to other books I read this year, but the concept of motive is almost completely thrown out the window. To say the book is complex is an understatement; I don't think I mined every jewel in this book on first read, and I'm excited to dive back in.
Anecdotally, it has become a writerly goal of mine to meet Lerner somewhere where I can tell him about how I roller skated in front of his car, as he waited at a light on Eastern Parkway. It is also a writerly goal of mine to have eyebrows as impressive as his.
Sometime in September I attended a virtual event with Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil about both of their 2020 releases. I didn't include Gay’s book Be Holding because I haven't read it, but I bought a copy for my sister's birthday at the end of September. The event with Gay and Nezhukumatathil started with the host playing “Let's Hear It For The Boy” as the intro/walk-up music, which felt so perfect for these two exuberant, lovely poets. I use the word “exuberant” a lot when I write about these two poets, because if you look it up in the dictionary, there's a picture of the two of them. I didn't know Nezhukumatathil's work until hearing her read "When in Doubt, Smile Like an Axolotl" from her book World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, but I fell in love with her words and with the sound of her voice.
The only book I started and finished this month was World of Wonders, and boy did I need it. At the beginning of November, I had just lost my second job in 2020 due to Covid, and potential bills that my third job of the year faced made me fearful of losing yet another one. My organic moments of joy and exuberance felt few and far between. I think what makes me remember truly good books, like many of the books I've mentioned, is the way they can embody a multifaceted perspective on life, and still make it seem worth living. World of Wonders has as much heartbreak and terror and grief as it does joy and love and pleasantry, and it was the direct injection of happiness and wisdom that I needed in November.
Another moment of joy and exuberance that I needed in November was hearing a midday Saturday whoop in our courtyard swell up and turn into the loudest cheers we'd heard from our apartment since the start of the pandemic. I put down my Kindle in the middle of the “Relationships” chapter of God-Level Knowledge Darts by Desus & Mero. I went outside in my pajamas (at noon) and shouted and clapped and hooted and hollered louder than I had all year. While every single fiber of my being wished so badly that I could call my mom to let her hear what Brooklyn sounded like, it was incredible to feel how happy she would have been in my own bones, and to know that I got to be there for it.
A lot of my time in December was spent with a friend’s father whose vision is impaired. Chuck is eighty-seven and, among other things, went to high school with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I let my friend know I would help him with basic tasks around the apartment, which I don’t mind at all, but a lot of the time we sit around talking about how absurd everything is. We also talk about his wild escapades and our first loves, like the Pisceans were are. We share a love of Uniqlo t-shirts, letterpress prints, and chocolate.
I plodded through Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, feeling emboldened that someone with such an invested career in design has gone on to win the Booker Prize. In Shuggie Bain I was transported to a Scotland I had traversed, with a curtain of poverty, loss, and addiction. It demanded I sit down and give it my full attention, like few other books I had read in 2020, and it deserved that attention. It is one of the only books I’ve written about here that I actually own.
We decided against traveling for Christmas. This was the first Christmas I spent without my family, but I still spent a good amount of the day on FaceTime with them, exchanging gifts and sharing the love. On Christmas Eve I dragged Tyler to Chinatown to pick up a ludicrous amount of dim sum (which would not deliver to Brooklyn), and we ate Chinese leftovers for Christmas dinner while watching The Office. My dad also mailed me a Virginia ham that sings me a salty siren song whenever I walk away from the fridge.
The last week of the year consisted of time spent with Chuck, some remote work, some bedroom roller skating, and tearing through Red White and Royal Blue, a delicious and lascivious romance novel, the sweet sundae topper on the pile of books I read this year.
ALSO READ IN DECEMBER
The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed
As of right now, my first reads of 2021 will be Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, and My Education by Susan Choi. I have a story I want to keep writing, some pictures to develop, and about thirty books I just added to my “to-read” list. It is hard to believe a new year can usher in any real change after the absurdity of 2020. Nevertheless, we have bubbly in the fridge for tonight and some black-eyed peas for tomorrow. I’m finishing this retrospective sitting next to Tyler as he plays Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I have this tiny shred of hope that, for whatever reason, everything might be okay.
SOME NEWSLETTERS I LOVED IN 2020
“books/snacks/softcore” by Samantha Irby - Every edition of “Who’s On Judge Mathis Today?” makes me laugh.
“ASK MOLLY” by Heather Havrilesky - MOLLY is Ask Polly’s uniquely, darkly poetic side.
“Eating Well Enough” by Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan - her Shepherd’s Pie recipe was incredible.
“Ordinary Plots: Meditations on Poems + Verse” by Devin Kelly
“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer - the inimitable guncle we all need.
“The Cha Cha Reader” by Sacha Vega - Sacha is a pal, and her newsletter inspired me to write about my 2020 reading list.
“The Reading” by Yanyi - priceless advice from a living legend.
SOME BOOKS I LEFT UNFINISHED IN 2020
The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour
The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing by Betsey Bonner
Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser
The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amalcar Scott
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Kitchen by Banana Yashimoto
My Meteorite by Harry Dodge
The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
* This was my favorite meme format this year. Here’s a good example.