I went to school on an Army base for several years, and I grew to believe my time there unavoidably skewed my perspective. To call Army kids your classmates, then as now, meant spending great balefuls of time with rural Heartlanders and Southerners. It meant having friends who blew whole weekends in paintball games with Vietnam vets. It meant that dumb kids brought hunting knives into school on a perilously regular basis. In a lot of ways, I was the odd man out back then, thanks largely to the fact that my parents were both academics, but my classmates often took precedence over the diktats of my tweedy home life. Even now, my parents like to tease me for using the word “dang” till I was 12.
"This year the books I liked best fell into two categories: the ones I read in a rush, squeezing in pages every spare moment or staying up late to finish them; and the ones I read slowly over several months, so that the books became my faithful companions. I tend to read three or four books at a time and this year what often happened is that one book would reveal itself to be a tortoise, and would live on my nightstand for weeks, while the hares (and whatever animal is between a hare and a tortoise — a cat?) raced by. As someone who gravitates toward “slow” books and movies, my sympathies lie with the tortoises, but I have to admit it was exciting to come across so many books that I couldn’t put down."
This year I read articles about the San Francisco housing market and the Oakland housing market and the rise of the tech class and the death of the middle class, and I had anxieties. But I was fortunate to have a job, so I subscribed to three magazines, two of which I read. I read trend pieces in which I recognized myself because I have student loans and no car and no house and no offspring. I read online guides for how to introduce cats to babies, in case the latter condition should change. I read laments on the death of the humanities and felt morose. I read tweets where people said they didn’t like Frances Ha and felt misunderstood. I read the numbers on the scale and learned that I am fatter than I was the last time I wrote my Year in Reading. I read warnings about sitting being the new smoking and wondered if smoking will become okay by comparison. I read the ingredients in my lotion and wondered if they are giving me a rash. I read a WebMD thing about my rash and wondered if my lotion would be harmful for a baby. I read Amazon reviews for natural flea treatments and learned that there are none.
"Why I picked up Light in August this year, I don’t know. It probably has as much to do with me being more mature than anything, but I was amazed by such a dark, stunning masterpiece of a novel. Set in Yoknapatawpha County in the 1930s, the novel is about race, sex, class, religion, and murder, told in a majestic, lyrical voice. This is the Faulkner readers rave about it, and I feel as if I have discovered it for the first time. I’d argue this is Faulkner’s best novel.”