This year I added another writer to my MRE list. In truth, he was one of the writers whose stories provoked that kind of MustReadEverything commitment early on, but I didn’t have a word for it yet.
Authors who told the kind of stories that I wanted on my shelves were authors whose new books I yearned for. But it was still the stories I liked best.
I hadn’t lit upon the idea of finding something magical in an author’s general perspective on the world, on a way of thinking that made me want to support a person’s work as much as I wanted to read what they wrote.
A couple of summers ago, I reread Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Summer Tree. I borrowed the audiobook from the library so that I could listen too, and I was washing the dishes when I read that scene.
It’s somewhere in the middle – I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t remembered it happening so soon – and if you’ve read it, you know the one.
So that you know why I was standing in the kitchen with my hands dangling in the dishwater, Just weeping. It was sunny. It was summer. And I was overcome.
So when I returned to the book this summer, I knew that was in the wings. I expected it. I was prepared. And it was just as awful. On the fourth reading.
One reason not to make a list is the possibility of it being imperfect. Here’s a gap in mine, but consider it mended now.
Because that risk is also good reason to make a list. So it’s less likely you’ll miss something.
A seasonal list has also added a couple of titles to my stacks: the Toronto Book Award shortlist.
This year, I’ve read three of the contenders:
- Dionne Brand’s Theory,
- Cary Fagan’s The Student (my review will be published in an upcoming issue of PRISM international),
- Ian Williams’ Reproduction (my review is here and I’m extra-proud of this one, please have a look).
Mike Barnes’ Be With: Letters to a Caregiver (2019) is already in my bookbag.
And I’ve started to read Didier Leclair’s This Country is Mine (2004; Trans. Elaine Kennedy, 2018), but only enough to know that I definitely want to continue, no matter how busy this reading season is about to become.
Which brings me to another good reason for list-making.
A good list is like a good plan: an ordinary thing that can be extraordinarily helpful.
What reading plans are you making? What notes are you taking?