My Year in (Pleasure) Reading

Last year, I made the commitment to read more for pleasure — to read more widely and without maybe a critical agenda. This was a lofty goal. I gave birth to my first child in January and two weeks later was teaching online from home. (I developed and taught FMU’s first online business writing class last spring.)

Despite my busy schedule and new responsibilities, I have read for pleasure pretty consistently throughout the last twelve months. The reason I was able to do this, I think, was that I changed reading platforms. Normally, I enjoy reading on paper, but most of my pleasure reading was done in ebook form on my phone. That way, I was able to read not only at night during 3am or 5am feeding/soothing sessions, but also with the assistance of only one hand.

In addition to the mounds of longform journalism I read, both in print and online, I read quite a few full-length books. Here’s an abbreviated list (in no particular order) of some of my “non-required” reads from 2014.

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander [NB: I’m not done yet. No spoilers!]

Carine McCandless, The Wild Truth

Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

Alice Goffman, On the Run [NB: I quit early and will probably finish, but that’s another post.]

Justin St. Germain, Son of a Gun

Megan Abbott, The Fever

Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire

Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Veronica Roth, Divergent Trilogy

S. Josephine Baker, Fighting for Life

Turns out that, despite my attempts to read more widely, I gravitated towards genres and themes that I focus on in my scholarship. (Go figure.) Meaning, I read a lot of memoir, and I also read texts that dealt with themes of illness, health, and medicine. One pleasure read, Fighting for Life, the last text on the list above, turned into an academic project, which I’ve blogged about here previously.

In 2015, I hope to continue the tradition, and have already staked out a few good reads, including Eula Bliss’s On Immunity. 

What’s on your reading list for the upcoming year? 


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Posted in Books, Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, General literature, Life of the Mind, Lifewriting
One comment on “My Year in (Pleasure) Reading
  1. Spring says:

    In truth, I have been in a long dry spell where pleasure reading is concerned. I find myself starting books and then tossing them aside in frustration — whether for poor writing, bad character development, or just plain being being boring or derivative or cliche. But, in just the last month I read a book that I really enjoyed – “The Crimson Rooms” by Katharine McMahon. It’s a slow read, rather melancholy, but well-written and intelligent. I don’t have a real “to read” list right now, but I’m scouring the NPR book concierge and appreciate your list here!

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Dr. Amy Rubens
I'm an "ambulant scholar," and I move among several worlds. As a professor of English, I research and write for audiences within and outside of academia. As a teacher of writing, literature, and culture, I facilitate learning. As a blogger, I critique, question, and reflect. Learn more about this blog and the work I do as a professor and workplace writing consultant.

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