What! A! Year!
I started college! Game of Thrones disappointed us all! I finished the third draft of my book! NASA revealed the first photo of a black hole! I read an absurd amount of magazines! Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was the Little Women we always deserved! (I laughed. I cried. Mostly cried. Might be my new favorite movie of all time; Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, and that ending? PERFECTION.) And apparently, I’ve become an advocate for the exclamation point!
2019 was twelve months of transition for me – I voted for the first time, moved up to Massachusetts (which I still misspell on occasion) for college, took classes in art history, literature, gender and sexuality, and astronomy, and learned how to do laundry. (DO NOT accidentally put your gray felt beret in the washer. It’ll shrink and flatten like a moldy pancake, and you’ll be sad.) This year felt like a movie montage, jumping from stress-cutting my friend’s bangs to seeing the constellations to a King Princess concert to running down a hill at full speed while my friend blasted Taylor Swift’s “Style” to gazing at the Philadelphia skyline from a rooftop to writing, writing, writing, and I’m only now catching my breath.
I feel like I’m on pause, taking a moment to look around me and see what will come next. What will happen next with the book? Am I taking the right classes? What will I write next? I don’t know what answers 2020 will bring. I can only hope that it will involve flappers dresses. (BRING BACK THE FRINGE!)
But before we move into the 20s, here’s a look back at 2019.
I met my reading goal of 52 books this year. Graphic novels became one of my biggest genres, largely thanks to Alison Bechdel. I also read a lot of plays, middle-grade novels – especially classics, because I was taking a college class about gender roles in children’s literature – and young adult books; I didn’t read as much poetry as I would’ve liked, though!
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
My favorite two books sound like they have a real estate theme. Non-spoiler spoiler: these houses are neither dreamy nor fun. For the second year in a row, I will not shut up about Carmen Maria Machado. In Dream House, she examines an abusive queer relationship through a different lens in every chapter – she’s my current writing obsession. Alison Bechdel showed me what the form of the graphic novel could do; she’s incredible at weaving her themes through a narrative, with words AND art.
I wouldn’t say that there were any HUGE disappointments on my list this year, because if a book wasn’t doing it for me, I didn’t finish it. College is incredible. It is is also an incredible time-suck. I brought 25 books with me to read in my free time. Ha. Hahahahaha. To be fair, I was reading all the time – but I was mostly reading novels, articles, and excerpts for classes. However, having less time to read made me pickier about what I chose to invest my time into, so I had a pretty great reading year.
- The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded by Molly McCully Brown
- Songs of Sappho
- No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
- Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon
- Trifles by Susan Glaspell
- The White Card by Claudia Rankine
- The Wicked + The Divine Volume 7: Mothering Invention by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, & Cowles
- The Wicked + The Divine Volume 8: Old is the New New by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, & Cowles
- The Wicked + The Divine Volume 9: Okay by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, & Cowles
- Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
- Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
- Alls Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
- Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
- Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
- Understanding Owls With Diabetes by David Sedaris
- Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
- What Now by Ann Patchett
- In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
- Homesick by Jennifer Croft
- Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly
- Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso
- How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson
- In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Radium Girls by Kate Moore
- How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffman
- The Art of Perspective by Christopher Castellani
- March Sisters by Carmen Maria Machado, Jenny Zhang, Kate Bolick, and Jane Smiley
- Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon
Children’s / Middle Grade
- See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
- The Landry News by Andrew Clements
- The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin
- Eliza is Not a Big Fat Loser by Carmella Van Vleet
- Eva by Peter Dickinson
- The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit
- Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
- Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Meet Cute (Anthology)
- Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
- There There by Tommy Orange
- Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- The Crane’s Dance by Meg Howrey
- Ayiti by Roxane Gay
- American Housewife by Helen Ellis
- Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
- I finished two journals! I’ve finally become the Girl Who Keeps An Active Journal, an identity I’ve been trying (and failing) to have since second grade.
- My portfolio won a national award in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, so I was in TINA FEY’s vicinity at the medal ceremony! All 206 of her bones must be funny bones. (That was bad. I’m sorry.)
- I was a Presidential Scholar of the Arts, and my writing was displayed in the Kennedy Center – it was incredibly surreal to see people reading my work like that. It felt more vulnerable than posting it online or watching someone read it off a sheet of paper.
- My writing appeared in Lunch Ticket, is forthcoming in The Hunger, and my short story was a semi-finalist for the Adroit Journal Prizes. I also become a youth poet laureate for New Jersey.
- I finished another draft of my book. I thought I’d feel very triumphant (in my family, we say “Triumphancy!” after a victory, and sometimes I forget it’s not a real word.) Instead, I feel sort of uneasy – I think it’s time to start beta-reading, and perhaps then querying, but it’s weird to think of your book living outside of you. For two and a half years, the novel has been mine, and releasing it into the world in any capacity feels simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.
- Read 52 books.
- Pitch my book to literary agents
- Drink more water
- Start researching my next novel
Thanks for reading! Did you gush over Little Women? What where your favorite books? Did you stress-cut your bangs? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.