December 15, 2016
Dear 2017, I challenge you to a read-off!
by Peter Clark
If you’re the kind of person that sets reading goals, you might decide on one of these great and popular reading challenges to spice up your reading in 2017. Including the normal fare of classics and motif-based challenges, I’m also a big fan of the more peculiar ones: reading books written in the form of correspondence and reading mysteries that have cats as protagonists, to name a couple.
Even though feline detective novels aren’t a part of my normal literary diet, there’s something delightfully charming about a book featuring “Smudge, a ‘slightly psychic’ cat” solving cozy mysteries (the double meaning there is also irresistible). And I think that’s the point! Reading challenges get us out of our literary bubbles. Thinking back on some of my most memorable reads of 2016, I can’t help but include The Swoly Bible, which, despite some unfortunate misogyny that I’m hoping is meant entirely tongue-in-cheek, is a hilarious book about gym bros.
At Popsugar, Tara Block has also put together a great checklist to help people keep diverse reading lists in 2017. But what I was really looking for this month was a list of book recommendations that could help me understand what happened in 2016. I couldn’t find a good one, so I made this short list of goals for myself, which I share here in case someone wants to loop my literary bubble into their own:
(That’s right, I made you a LISTICLE!)
- Given the popularity of Ken Bone and political pressure to help ailing coal miners, read a book about the coal industry. I have to recommend A.J. Cronin’s novel The Stars Look Down as a primer, but I’ll be searching for others next year.
- With Elon Musk and his hyperloop around the corner, it sounds like a good idea to read a book about the future. Ray Kurzweil comes to mind at first, but I also recommend Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. I’ll be looking for new insights that come out this year about how robotic innovations in manufacturing will change the world economy.
- After reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent article in the Atlantic, I think next year should also be a bit reflective. I haven’t read any books yet about the Obama presidency, but I imagine a slew have already come out or will soon.
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.