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Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

2017: The Big Bookish Wrap-up of the Year

December 18, 2017    Tags: , , , , , ,   

Whew. 2017.

When I look through my files, I guess I managed to get some stuff done–books written, a poetry collection accepted for publication (!!!), a play finished and performed–but I can’t estimate the number of hours I spent reading the news with my stomach aching and my TMJ in overdrive, writing postcards and emails, leaving phone messages for politicians while clenching my jaw even harder (thanks, phone phobia!). I know it’s a privilege not to live in constant, fearful awareness of politics, but–really selfishly here–I’d like a little of that privilege back. A year or two from now, I’d love to apply the KonMari method to my brain and go through all the names of cabinet members and lawyers and congresspeople who are no longer in those positions, all the “there’s no way they really said that” quotes, and fill up a few dozen garbage bags.

I’ve got a lot of reasons to look forward to 2018 — I’ll have three (!!!!!!!!) books coming out, for starters — but for me, one of the biggest ones has to do with voting. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so enthusiastic about voting in my whole life. And that’s a positive thing, right?

So bring it on, 2018. Ready and waiting.

Writing-wise:
– Books written: 2 (YA project and Story Pirates mystery)
– Books revised: 3 (THE COLLECTORS, YA project, and Story Pirates mystery)
– Short stories written: 2 (and they’re both pretty crappy! Woohoo!)
– Short stories published 1 (“The Scarecrow” in Stinkwaves Magazine)
– Poems written: 8
– Poems published: 1 (“Yanys” reprinted in THE DRIFTLESS READER)
– Poetry collections finished: 1 (CANDLE AND PINS: POEMS ON SUPERSTITIONS will be published by Alban Lake Press this spring)
– Plays revised, rehearsed, and premiered: 1 (SNOW DAY: A Dark (and Cold) Comedy about Climate Change, performed by Red Wing’s Soapbox Players from December 1 – 9, 2017).

Reading-wise:
(Re-reads are marked with an asterisk, and read-alouds are in bold.)
THE INQUISITOR’S TALE – Adam Gidwitz
DAD IS FAT – Jim Gaffigan
LIZARD RADIO – Pat Schmatz
LET ME TELL YOU – Shirley Jackson
SCRATCH: WRITERS, MONEY, AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING – Manjula Martin, ed.
FREAKONOMICS – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES – Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
THE POET’S DOG – Patricia McLaughlin
SHOW YOUR WORK! – Austin Kleon
MONSTRESS 1  – Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
THE SOMEDAY SUITCASE – Corey Ann Haydu
THE NATURAL WORLD OF WINNIE-THE-POOH – Kathryn Aalto
ARE YOU LOATHSOME TONIGHT – Poppy Z. Brite
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME – Ta-Nehisi Coates
HILLBILLY ELEGY – J.D. Vance
NOVEL DESTINATIONS: A TRAVEL GUIDE – Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon
AMERICANAH – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiechie
WHAT WE DO NOW: STANDING UP FOR YOUR VALUES IN TRUMP’S AMERICA – Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians
HOUR OF THE BEES – Lindsay Eagar
ONE SUMMER: AMERICA 1927 – Bill Bryson
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE – Katherine Arden
THE RAVEN BOYS – Maggie Stiefvater
THE NIGHT GARDENER – Jonathan Auxier
THE HATE U GIVE – Angie Thomas
NORSE MYTHOLOGY – Neil Gaiman
*THE LOTTERY AND OTHER STORIES – Shirley Jackson
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? – Maria Semple
ONCE AGAIN, TO ZELDA: THE STORIES BEHIND LITERATURE’S MOST INTRIGUING DEDICATIONS – Marlene Wagman-Geller
I REMEMBER NOTHING – Nora Ephron
DARK MONEY – Jane Mayer
SAGA, VOL. 1 – Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
PATHFINDER – Angie Sage
TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN – Lauren Graham
THE MAGICIANS – Lev Grossman
THIS IS AN UPRISING: HOW NONVIOLENT REVOLT IS SHAPING THE 21ST CENTURY – Mark and Paul Engler
BOOKED – Kwame Alexander
BAPTISM OF DESIRE: POEMS – Louise Erdrich
A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST – Rebecca Solnit
OH CRAP! POTTY TRAINING – Jamie Glowacki
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE – Laini Taylor
ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY – Chris Grabenstein
*THE WESTING GAME – Ellen Raskin
MOCKINGBIRD – Kathryn Erskine
COUNTING BY SEVENS – Holly Goldberg Sloan
SHIRLEY JACKSON: A RATHER HAUNTED LIFE – Ruth Franklin
VICIOUS – V.E. Schwab
SKY BLUE WATER: GREAT STORIES FOR YOUNG READERS – Jay D. Peterson and Collette A. Morgan, eds.
SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS – Claire LeGrande
BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE: THE LIFE OF HELEN GURLEY BROWN – Jennifer Scanlon
CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR – Roald Dahl
AL FRANKEN, GIANT OF THE SENATE – Al Franken
DARING GREATLY – Brene Brown
CIRCUS MIRANDUS – Cassie Beasley
A BOTANIST’S VOCABULARY: 1300 TERMS EXPLAINED AND ILLUSTRATED – Bobbi Angell and Susan K. Pell
*BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA – Katherine Paterson
THE ANNIE YEAR – Stephanie Wilbur Ash
THE DOOR: POEMS – Margaret Atwood
SAGA Vol. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
THE BIG BAD BOOK OF BOTANY – Michael Largo
PAPER GIRLS 1, 2, and 3 – Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, etc.
THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH, REVISITED – Jessica Mitford
STARGIRL – Jerry Spinelli
THE MEMORY BOOK – Lara Avery
THREE DARK CROWNS – Kendare Blake
*A WRINKLE IN TIME – Madeline L’Engle
THE SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND – Moira Fowley-Doyle
THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON – Elaine Aron
THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE – Stephanie Perkins
A GOOD TIME FOR THE TRUTH: RACE IN MINNESOTA – Sun Yung Skin, ed.
THE JUMBIES – Tracey Baptiste
THEFT BY FINDING, Vol. 1 – David Sedaris
THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE – Brian Farrey
ROLLERGIRL – Victoria Jamieson
BLACK PANTHER, Vol. 1: A NATION UNDER OUR FEET – Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
WE ARE THE ANTS – Shaun David Hutchinson
VOODOO DREAMS – Jewell Parker Rhodes
A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON – Samantha Mabry
THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP – Marie Kondo
THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE – Meik Wiking
TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN – John Green
HOW TO HYGGE – Signe Johansen
A WALK IN THE WOODS – Bill Bryson
WISHING DAY – Lauren Myracle

Quite a bit of brutal and necessary nonfiction this year (A GOOD TIME FOR THE TRUTH is excellent, DARK MONEY raised my blood pressure by several points, and BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME left me feeling like I could barely breathe), some amazing comic/graphic novel stuff (Hello, SAGA! Hi, ROLLERGIRL!), and some books that I wanted to shove into the hands of every young reader I meet (like THE HATE U GIVE, THE INQUISITOR’S TALE, and THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES). My personal favorites were Bill Bryson’s ONE SUMMER: AMERICA 1927, which Ryan and I tore through on trips to and from St. Paul for critique group meetings (Bryson is always charmingly readable, but this one was extra charmingly readable, and with its confluence of amazing historical events, it felt like a way less murderous version of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY), TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN, which has some of the strongest character creation John Green has pulled off yet, Shirley Jackson’s LET ME TELL YOU, and SHIRLEY JACKSON: A RATHER HAUNTED LIFE, which might be the best literary biography I’ve ever read.

Writing SNOW DAY and seeing it produced here in my hometown was definitely the writing highlight of my year. I’m sad that it’s done, but so happy and dazzled and grateful that it happened in the first place. (Here’s a shot of the entire cast looking up in wonder at the northern lights, the incredible old barn where Soapbox Players performs–See the lighted windows? That’s the stage!–and one of my little guy at the Christmas tree lot. Because cute.)

 

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year, everybody. XO

Spectacles

1 Comment (Leave a comment)

  1. I still read blogs and comment 🙂 Looking forward to The Collectors coming out in 2018. My reading has been all over the place this year, partially because my kiddo has moved onto YA and I want books to recommend/read together but also because I love my MG. I read The Hate You Give too and would recommend Long Way Down, intense but lovely poetry. And if you enjoyed Westing Game, Greenglass House and Winterhouse are two others that were really good. I was also really fond of Shadow Magic by Joshua Kahn and the follow-up Dream Magic. Hope you have a very happy holiday and New Year! Your kiddo is getting so big and what a cutie.

    Comment by Brenda on December 19, 2017 @ 3:52 pm


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