Fall 2020 Reading

I’m going to do a quick update on my fall reading, since the last time I wrote here was August. Summers and winter break are my best blogging times, it seems, and here I am again, nearing the end of the semester, with a little more time on my hands. Just a little, though.

I read quite a lot this fall. As the election loomed and COVID got worse and worse, I found myself beginning to reread more and more. I read Drifts by Kate Zambreno in May and loved it so much I reread it in August. It was lovely to dive back into a book with a voice and atmosphere I found comforting. I reread Zadie Smith’s Intimations, the second time through on audio instead of the ebook galley I first read. It’s a fabulous audiobook! Smith reads the book herself and in a couple places she does accents and even sings. It’s marvelous.

A little later in the fall I reread Elisa Gabbert’s The Word Pretty, which is an essay collection I think any avid reader would like. Then I reread Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Want to Know, partly because I loved it very much, and partly in preparation for reading the next book in her planned trilogy of memoirs, The Cost of Living (which I would like to reread at some point!). I heard recently that the third book will be coming out next year, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it.

Here are a few other books that were meaningful to me:

  • Marie NDiaye’s That Time of Year (translated by Jordan Stump). This was spooky and weird in the best way. I’m generally not much of a horror reader, but this fits the genre and I loved it.
  • Brian Dillon’s Essayism. I love essays and books about essays, and this was both very smart about the genre and gorgeously written (I might want to reread this one day). The essays are personal as well as critical — the best mode.
  • Moyra Davey’s Index Cards. This was personal essays with a lot of material about art, literature, and film.
  • Hiroko Oyamada’s The Hole (translated by David Boyd). This is another book that could be called literary horror. It’s short, weird, and haunting.
  • Rachel Zucker’s MOTHERs. This book isn’t easily available, which is unfortunate, because I LOVED IT. I would tell everyone I know who likes the kind of books I like to read this if I could. It’s a book about Zucker’s relationship with her mother and also her relationships with her literary “mothers,” those who taught her to write and influenced her writing. It’s intense and complicated, and one I definitely plan to reread.
  • Kate Zambreno’s Appendix Project. I have read four Zambreno books this year (one of them twice). Obviously, she’s a central writer for me. Appendix Project is sort of a companion to her Book of Mutter. It’s about a lot of things including what it was like to write Book of Mutter and what she omitted from it and why. Zambreno has a new book coming out this spring — a sort of response to Herve Guibert’s To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life — and I can’t wait.
  • Renee Gladman’s Calamities. This is another essay collection. It’s based on her day-to-day life but touches on writing, language, identity.

Right now I’m reading Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name, the second in her Neapolitan series. I love it so much! I thought the first book was fine, back when I read it in 2017, but this second one has really gripped me.

I hope your fall has been full of wonderful reading!


Filed under Books

2 responses to “Fall 2020 Reading

  1. So many essay collections here that sound interesting! I hadn’t heard of The Word Pretty or Index Cards before now, but I think I would enjoy reading both of them.


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