An aspiring book worm needs your help

In 2009 I want to be a bonafide book worm. I want to be the girl who saw the movie and read the book. I want to be that person who starts off conversations with the sentence, “That reminds me of this book I’m reading right now.” And I want to actually need one of those adorable book totes sold at Borders.

Don’t get me wrong, I read all the time. Because I’m a journalist I’m constantly browsing newspapers, magazines and blogs to stay up on current events and to get ideas for future stories and columns. But with only a few exceptions, each book that I completed this year I read to prepare for an interview with the author, not just because I wanted to read it. And that’s no way for a true book worm to behave.

But this will change in 2009. My plan is to compile a list of 12 books to read next year and I need your help coming up with some ideas.

Before you start suggesting I read War and Peace, let me give you an idea of what I like and I hope these examples will give you some titles to add to your own reading list.

Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and World Without Rape — Edited by Jaclyn Friedman and founder Jessica Valenti, this book is a collection of insightful essays by feminists from all over the country. And I have an announcement — there’s one essay in the book written by yours truly! But I’d be excited about reading this book even if it didn’t contain my byline. Promise.

The Prisoner’s Wife — This memoir by poet Asha Bandele tells of her falling in love with a man in prison, marrying him in prison and later conceiving a child with him during a conjugal visit. If this book is even half as good as her poetry it will definitely be worth a read.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea and/or My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands — I have a thing for memoirs, especially those that make me laugh out loud. The reviews I’ve read about these essay collections by Chelsea Handler have convinced me they’ll deliver the funny.

Girl Meets God — The child of a Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, Lauren F. Winner chose to become an Orthodox Jew, but found herself increasingly drawn to Christianity. She eventually converted and this book takes us through a year in her life as a Christian.

My list is missing fiction and erotica. I need some works by bell hooks and other feminist thinkers in the mix and I can never have enough David Sedaris-esque memoirs.

Any suggestions?

What did you read this year?

What’s on your reading agenda for 2009?



  1. Since I’d rather read a good book than watch a movie, fiction is right up my alley! Speaking of having read the book before the movie, have you ever read Push by Sapphire? I read that a few months back and enjoyed it, and supposedly there’s a movie coming with Mo’Nique and Lenny Kravitz. Also Pearl Cleage’s fiction is very good. She’s great at weaving together politics and women’s social issues into a love story. As for erotica? It kind of wore off on me fast, because several authors seem to forget that even erotica needs a PLOT! But Eric Jerome Dickey, one of my favorites from before his erotica phase, is good. Next on my list is the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao…

  2. BTW, Prisoner’s Wife sounds very good. I’ve heard of Asha Bandele but haven’t read any of her work yet, so I’ll add that to my list as well.

  3. in random order:

    1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

    2. The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

    3. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

    4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    5. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

    6. The Oath by Frank Peretti

    7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

    8. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

  4. unfortunately, the books I love may or may not be the books you’re hoping to read. I second East of Eden by John Steinbeck–it’s one of my faves. Valley of the Dolls–the first trashy novel is classic. I just read the Shock Doctrine for class–Naomi Klein writes from a liberal perspective but it’s timely. I also am trying to get through Anna Karenina–it’s amazing, but it’s a serious commitment. Maybe you should start a georgiamae online book club.

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