No, I’m not reading 100 books this year. But I’ll read these five.

I am not a fast reader, which makes keeping up with all the new books sort of difficult. This year, I’m excited for lots of great books (like Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman! The Affairs of the Falcóns by Melissa Rivero! Good Talk by Mira Jacob! The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling!), but I’m also looking forward to finally get to read the ones that have been sitting on my shelf already. Here are five strange, lovely books that I’ll be reading this year that aren’t very new.

1. Encyclopedia of Women’s Travel and Exploration.
Patricia D. Netzley
When I was a little kid, I used to spend hours on Microsoft’s Encarta, listening to the national anthems of countries around the world. Even back then, before I’d ever even been on a plane, I knew I loved to travel. This book indulges the part of me that can get teary-eyed from dropping into a foreign city on Google maps and clicking her way through the streets. I cannot wait to read about the hundreds of women who came before me that felt most thoroughly alive by traveling.

2. The Wonders of the Invisible World
David Gates
I was brought to David Gates’ work through the work of another writer I admire, Jade Sharma. Her book, Problems, left an impression on me because, for one, it remains the only novel I’ve ever read that features a woman of color protagonist struggling with addiction. Also, it’s so witty and clear-sighted, all I remember thinking after I read it was, ughI want to write like her. After reading an interview in which she mentioned Gates’ influence on her, I read Jernigan, which was a twisted, fun, read, and I wanted to read more. Actually, I wanted to read more Jade Sharma, but since she hasn’t released something since Problems, I’m settling for more Gates. For now.

3. Little House on the Prairie series & that big exposé book that won the Pulitzer
Caroline Fraser
So this counts as #3 and #4 because to read one, I first have to read the other. But this is one of those things that I’m ashamed to admit to never having read, though not that ashamed, I guess, because I’m admitting to it now. Anyway, the only reason I was drawn to this in the first place is because I recently became aware of Ana Mardoll‘s live-read of Prairie Fires and her deconstruction of Little House on the Prairie, and even without knowing anything about Laura Ingalls Wilder, I am freakin’ RIVETED.

5. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need
Jessica Brody
Alright, so I owe this one to Layne Fargo, fellow debutante. She has sung this book’s praises and I have to admit that I’ve only read about 10 pages, and now I cannot believe that I once ever looked down on craft books. I struggle with plot (I know this, have known this) and for the first time ever, I feel like I finally understand the basic rules behind creating a compelling story. It only took this long. Better now than never!


OK, now this is off list, but I also want to read whatever books Valeria Luiselli ends up editing at Coffee House Press, as well as more books from Melville House and Soho Press because everything they publish manages to be dope. And more poetry. I also just bought a Kindle and am digging the books featured on Amazon First Reads that you can download for free each month! High five for free books!

Friends, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your 2019 TBR pile, just read the things that you’re drawn to right now–even if you can’t find someone to talk about them with. I won’t judge you–clearly, you don’t need to be a 100-books-or-bust kinda person to join my bookclub. BUT I do implore you to be better than our newest Supreme Court Justice and read more books than you drink kegs.

Anyway, that’s all from my bookshelf! See you next week!

Author: Stephanie Jimenez

Stephanie Jimenez is a former Fulbright recipient and Prep for Prep alumna. She is based in Queens, New York, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, O! the Oprah Magazine, Entropy, and more. Her debut novel, THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING, will be published in the summer of 2019 (Little A). Follow her @estefsays.