Michelle Bailat-Jones

Writer, Translator, Reader

Someone tweeted a marvelous idea this morning – an advent reading calendar. I sipped my coffee and let my eyes wander over the slim titles of someone else’s 25-day reading plan, and I knew immediately that I wanted to do the same. My brain has been anchored in politics and final novel edits for a manuscript that is finally in my agent’s capable hands and out of my mind for a while (hooray!), and so a little nudge to get me reading broadly and haphazardly is very welcome. I love reading with a plan and often follow a thread from one book to another, but sometimes it’s nice to cast a wide net and see what that can spark.

The only book I’ve been able to focus on recently is Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker, and it is really lovely, but it’s an escape as well, giving me distance from the planet and very gentle commentary on the human love of height, speed, and flying. It’s a great read but I need more and am not sure where to go.

So here is a list of short stories and essays that I’ve never read, that I have already on my shelves and that I’d like to read over the next 25 days. I’ve deliberately left myself four empty spots* because I’m hoping any of you might give me some suggestions and throw me in wild and varied directions – so what is the best short story or essay you’ve read recently?

* I’ve gotten some wonderful suggestions, but would welcome more…

1 Dec Jane Bowles – A Day in the Open
2 Dec Jane Hirshfield – The World is Large and Full of Noises
3 Dec Phyllis Rose – Tools of Torture: An Essay on Beauty & Pain
4 Dec James Baldwin – Exodus
5 Dec Katherine Anne Porter – St.Augustin and the Bullfight
6 Dec Anne Carson – Kinds of Water
7 Dec Kate Chopin – An Egyptian Cigarette
8 Dec Constance Fenimore Woolson – Miss Grief
9 Dec Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – The Lives of Strangers
10 Dec Ada Leverson – Suggestion
11 Dec Charles Simic – Reading Philosophy at Night
12 Dec Olive Schreiner – Three Dreams in a Desert
13 Dec Jamaica Kincaid – Figures in the Distance
14 Dec James Baldwin – 5th Ave, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem
15 Dec Geoff Dyer – Otherwise Known as the Human Condition
16 Dec Rebecca Solnit – Two Arrowheads
17 Dec Sherman Alexie – The Toughest Indian in the World
18 Dec Michelle Cliff – Transactions
19 Dec Lucia Berlin – A Manual for Cleaning Women
20 Dec Jan Carson – Settling
21 Dec Eudora Welty – A Sweet Devouring
22 Dec  Anna Kavan – The Brother
23 Dec  Alice Walker – The Flowers
24 Dec
25 Dec


8 Responses to “25 days of reading”

  1. roughghosts

    I saw Grant’s tweet and was inspired to make a little tower of possible skinny reads and aim to at least get a handful in by year end—but thought better of actually outlining a specific plan. I am looking at books under 150 pages, including the three new Cahier Series releases that were kindly sent to me and are still safely packed up! I do have one rather fat book on the go for a critical review due to be submitted in early January (and I am such a poky reader) plus a couple of items I am still imagining I will get through—best laid plans and all that!

    As for a recommendation, the Cahier Series, from American University in Paris/Sylph Editions are always wonderful. The Swan Whisperer by Marlene van Niekerk from last fall (#25), if you have not read it, is simply fantastic.

    • Michelle

      I’ve just ordered a few of the new Cahier, and I’m so excited about reading them. I love this series. I don’t have The Swan Whisperer and so will look for it… perhaps a holiday purchase? Thank you for the recommendation

  2. Sigrun

    A wonderful idea; especially to read texts you already have on your shelves. Hoping for short reviews & comments!

  3. smithereens

    I am looking these days at old personal favorites and I’ll mention the Nachman stories by Leonard Michael, or as a single story, The Stone woman by AS Byatt.

  4. anathanwest

    You can find paperbacks in French of Hermann Burger’s Diabelli for next to nothing. Incredible. Also the Gospudinov cahier is magnificent.

  5. oneblacktree

    It’s a little late, but a few more: “Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life” by Yiyun Li, ‘The Delusions of Certainty’ by Siri Hustvedt and ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro.

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