Reading Rainbow 2012: The Things We’re Finally Actually Going To Read This Year

2012 is the year of moving forward without everything that’s holding us back. But sometimes it’s worth looking at whether it’s ourselves holding us back, or at least our reticence to pick up the copy of that book that we borrowed from our best friend or mom or ex and have kept on the coffee table for eight months and really are going to read one of these days. You know what I mean — like the copy of Anna Karenina or The Woman Warrior that you’ve kept through like three different moves but still never opened? Well hey, it’s a new year, and we’re all still bright-eyed and optimistic and the hangover is mostly gone, so why not make it today? Or at least one of the coming 365 days in 2012?  We looked deep inside ourselves in a very honest and searching way, and came up with the books we’ve been meaning to read and are finally going to take the plunge on, or finish the very extended plunge on, depending. Here are our choices. What are you going to read in 2012?

Rachel, Senior Editor

 

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Once Upon a River: A Novel

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Gravity’s Rainbow

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 Lucky Girls: Stories

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Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Carmen, Contributing Editor

 

Inferno (A Poet’s Novel)

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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Mad About Madeline

 

Crystal, Music Editor

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude

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The Town and the City

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Freedom

Laura, Contributing Editor

 

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

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Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future

Laneia, Executive Editor

 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Riese, Editor in Chief

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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

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No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays

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This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

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The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011

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Glory Goes and Gets Some: Stories

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        Orlando is very different from Woolf’s other work, so don’t give up on her yet. She had two main phases of work- her early conventional stuff like night and day, and her latter experimental work like to the lighthouse and mrs dalloway. Orlando is in a group all of it’s own. I’m just about to board a plane to London where I am going to study her drafts so I am obviously a massive Woolf fan and this is very relevant to my interests.

        There is also a movie of Orlando which is very good and featuresTilda Swinton looking swanky and elizabethan in drag so you should watch that too.

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        I love Orlando a whole lot, but of all Woolf’s books it is the one I feel the most meh about. Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own are so perfect, sometimes I wish I was a bookcase so they could be inside me actually and not just in a weird, metaphorical way

        I think Orlando improves, also, if you’re super into the backstory, which is probably not a very good thing but oh well. When I met my first girlfriend we were seventeen and super into Virginia Woolf and I had this idea that I was Vita Sackville-West and she was Virginia and it was kind of adorable but mostly obnoxious and creepy.

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          I was reading the letters between Virginia and Vita, from around the time Virginia was writing Orlando, and then picked up Orlando – and found it super-interesting, knowing about their relationship, all the references that went into Orlando etc. but I think if I’d just read Orlando I would have found it much more random.

          [PS have you seen 'Portrait of a Marriage', about Vita's marriage + relationship with Violet Trefusis?]

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    Oscar Wao is great. i read it recently. it’s like poco lit meets geek lit. also it’s very funny. and tells the history of the dominican republic through footnotes and you don’t feel like you’re reading a Historical Novel but by the end you know a lot.

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    I’ll be finishing up “Colonel Roosevelt” and saying good-bye to my favorite US President. Then it is off to Margaret Atwood’s “In Other Worlds” before finally digging into “The Pale King” (which I’m half tempted to put off reading until April). After that I don’t know what I’ll be reading until mid-March when “Apocalypse” the last in the ‘Fate of the Jedi’ series drops.

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    This year I will finally purchase and read Annie On My Mind. I haven’t read it yet because the library at school doesn’t have a copy. Other books I plan on reading (that the library does have a copy of!) include:

    – Female Masculinity and The Queer Art of Failure, both by J Halberstam
    – The Well of Loneliness
    – Curious Wine
    – Branded: the buying and selling of teenagers

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        Well of Loneliness should only ever be read as a historical treatise of what it was like when Radclyffe Hall was writing it. And to appreciate that we (in the West at least)no longer live in that space and time.

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          “historical treatise of what it was like when Radclyffe Hall was writing it”

          That is why I want to read it. I read The Rebel of the Family by Eliza Lynn Linton for a similar reason, to see how lesbians were portrayed in a book from the 19th century. Also, Linton was a well known anti-feminist, which makes her portrayal of outspoken female characters even more interesting. However, this is all coming from someone who ran across We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook of Gay and Lesbian Politics today at the library and immediately wanted a copy :)

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    I just bought myself a copy of “The Celluloid Closet” book, and hopefully I’ll get around to reading my copy of “Manifesta.” Also, the “Non-Required Reading” books are basically my favorite thing ever invented. I’ve got to read more this year; I’m a joke of an English major.

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    This year I will not be reading anything I actually want to because SCHOOL SCHOOL SCHOOL. But afterwards, I will get my hands on a copy of “Baby Remember My Name” by Michelle Tea and I will not put it down until I’m done with it.

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    On Jan 8, when I finish my second degree, I will continue reading ‘The Queer Art of Failure’ by Judith Jack Halberstam. Basically Halberstam links queerness with a refusal to succeed by heteronormative capitalistic standards (thus making queerness a kind of conscious failure) and uses the concept to propose more creative alternative way of being in the world. But it’s very funny and easygoing and Halberstam uses Spongebob Squarepants to talk about the revolution. In conclusion, it is win.

    Can you tell I am up procrastinating my essays… ugh ugh academic torture.

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    I just put in a requrest for “The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi at my school library. Autostraddle, you read my mind. I’m determined to read more than a few sections of the Norton Anthology of Literature By Women: The Tradition in English. It’s a giant book but it can’t be beat for convenience: Audre Lorde, Mary Wollstonecraft, Adrienne Rich, and nearly any other female author you can think of are included in the book. SWEET.

    Also looking forward to reading some Halberstam and maybe some more Kate Bornstien. Also REALLY excited for Alison Bechdel’s next book. Finally, I am dead set on reading at least 50% of Infinite Jest by the end of the year. EVEN IF IT SERIOUSLY MAIMS ME.

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      Persepolis is amazing! I think you will love it. The movie is also worth watching when you are done with the books.

      Also, Alison Bechdel has a new book coming out?? Wonderful! I don’t even need to know what it is, it’s now on my list.

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        I’m really excited for Persepolis. It looks fascinating. And I had no idea it was a movie too, I’ll definitely have to check that out.

        Alison Bechdel is coming out with a book about her relationship with her mom and it looks great. I may or may not be looking forward to it more than the Hunger Games movie.

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    So many great books! I’ve added some of those to my list =]

    *Extremely loud and incredibly close! I’m jealous of people that will read it for the first time because they will be able to experience all the cagillion feelings and thoughts I did as I read it! Oscar Wao is another great read,although I may be biased since I’m Dominican.

    Some random books I’ve been meaning to read:
    *Middlesex
    *Tropics of Desire: Interventions from Queer Latino America
    *Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude
    *She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff (Omgz!!)

    <3.AutoStraddle.

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      *Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude

      This sounds intriguing. Who’s it by?

      I’ve been reading 2 excellent memoir/travelogues combo recently, by Jenny Diski, a British writer I accidentally discovered. The first I took out from the library just because of the title:
      Skating to Antarctica. The other one: Strangers on a Train (about her train journeys in US). She comes across as a deeply solitary person, LOVE her writing.

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        Hey, Skating to Antarctica sounds pretty awesome, I added it to my list as well. mwahaha.

        Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude is by Lionel Fisher and it has collection of personal stories of time alone and how it was awesome for those authors. It has great reviews on Amazon, and my introvert self is looking forward to it.

        Night.

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    I would love to finally actually read Inferno because I love Eileen Myles, but alas my parents will wonder why their ‘straight’ daughter is ordering lesbian books in the mail. No local bookstores have it; I even tried Strand when I was in NYC; they were helpful and knew what I was talking about but didn’t have any of Myles’ books. For shame!

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    Such good lists! My sister has been trying to get me to read Bonnie Jo Campbell for ages, Rachel–maybe I should finally do it.
    At the very top of my list for this year is The Art of Fielding, which seems like it might have been written just for me (Melville! Baseball!). I also want to finally read History of the Conquest of Mexico, which is 1,000 pages long and has been weighing down my shelf since I moved to Mexico.
    But my biggest reading goal for the year is to read more stuff in Spanish. I’m going to consider this year a success once I read (and understand) Javier Marías’s Corazón tan blanco. I read and loved it in English a couple years ago (as A Heart So White–everyone should read it!), and now I want to try it in Spanish. I don’t understand how people learn to read in a second language–it’s totally outside of my abilities. But this will be the year that changes!

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      oh good! i found it at a used bookstore i think, and was like ‘oh i have always been meaning to read this’ (this is pretty much how all of my books end up on my shelves) and i have taken it with me on like THREE TRIPS and still haven’t read it. this is the year for us, darcy, THIS IS IT

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        i randomly found it at Pulp Fiction, an awesome bookstore in Vancouver, but on the back it says it’s put out by SEMIOTEXT(E) distributed by MIT Press. I think you could find it online, or try to find a used copy on amazon?

        yeah it’s partly about iceland. she travels to iceland several times and there are beautiful parts about eccentric artists there and the landscape. generally it’s a collection of her art commentary. everything she writes makes me laugh, so i recommend.

        (also her earlier book of fiction ‘cool for you’. so good.)

        a.

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    I feel like if I write it down, it will actually happen. So. Someone call me on this shit.

    Atlas Shrugged
    Catch-22
    The Life of Pi
    and large chunks of The Norton Anthology of Poetry.

    Bam. Said it. Gonna make it happen.

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    I read “A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Father” by Michael Holroyd. You all should read it! It is excellent. Comic, sad, true and about famous lesbians (Violet Trefusis and Vita Sackville-West).

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        Neverwhere! That was my first Gaiman novel, and I really enjoyed it. American Gods was interesting, and actually pretty thought-provoking.

        This year, I’m finally going to read Annie On My Mind! I feel like a bad lesbian because I’ve never actually read it.
        I’m going to give Michelle Tea another shot. I didn’t like Valencia. There, I said it!
        I’d like to re-read The Ethical Slut, and The New Bottoming Book.
        And maybe some more “classic” literature as well? I’ll probably just look through all of Autostraddle’s reading lists and go from there.

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    The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Unlike everyone else I’ve ever met, I never read it in middle school, and I feel like I should before I leave high school. I admit I don’t have hella high hopes for it, but maybe I am wrong maybe it will make me feel ~infinite~

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      YES Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Such a fantastic book. When people come into my work looking for something to get their teenage/ya offspring to keep reading and they loved Harry Potter then I immediately get them a copy of this book. It deals with magic, history, and abso-fucking-lutely heart-rending stuff. BRILLIANT. The Jeanette Winterson book is also great, but then I love her writing so I was biased.

      Warning – both of these books will make you cry.

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    i will most definitely read:

    – virginia woolf, to the lighthouse (i LOVED mrs. dalloway and A room of one’s own)
    – samuel beckett, three novels (molloy, malone dies, the unnamable)
    – eileen myles, inferno
    – ernest hemingway, a farewell to arms

    just finished jonathan franzen, how to be alone
    i feel like i should read one of his novels now.. the corrections maybe?

    also, i really want to read something by gertrude stein, what would be a good start?

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      I have not read a ton of Stein, but Three Lives is very very nice and funny and also extremely readable — they’re still recognizable narratives though characteristically Steinian, and short too. Her autobiography, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas is a little harder to get through mainly due to length and a lot of namedropping of people we no longer know, but is a fun slice of history and a pretty sweet, oblique picture of her relationship with Toklas.

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    I need to read more literature. I’m gonna be 25 in a few weeks, and I’m just reading Catcher in the Rye, now! Also on my to-read list are:

    -Lord of the Flies

    -Brave New World

    -The Metamorphosis

    -The Scarlet Letter

    -Les Miserables

    -Slaughterhouse Five

    -Naked Lunch

    -On the Road

    -Lolita

    I also need to read the Hunger Games books. ALSO…I’ve NEVER read a Harry Potter book…

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      lots of good classics – you can put several of those on your Kindle for free, if you have one. I loved the Slaughterhouse Five, Les Mis, On the Road, and The Scarlet Letter…the rest on your list are good reads although I felt ‘meh’ about Brave New World, to be honest. The Hunger Games are a must – I’ve finished the first two books and sort of don’t want to start the third right away because then they’ll be over! The trailer for the first movie looks amazing. Oddly enough, I never read any Harry Potter either. I feel like with that many books in the series it’s too much of an investment now, like if I read one I’ll have to read them all. Then I’d probably want to watch the movies, which again there are several.

      Happy reading!

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    I’m currently 2/3 of the way through Oscar Wao and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I really like the voice/writing style and all the info on the Dominican Republic, but overall I feel kind of meh about it.

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    This year I am finally going to read/finish:

    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (and then maybe Year of the Flood?)

    since I have had both of these books for years and have actually read to about halfway through Oryx and Crake. I just keep picking up something else.

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      did you see the documentary narrated/hosted by sue perkins in which she reads from a book that appears to span the majority of anne lister’s life? that is not what you get with the most commonly available edition, more like only the first half of the interesting parts. just fyi

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        YES, I saw it after having watched the movie with Maxine Peake, and I totally loved it. Sue Perkins is the bessssst ♥ After that I went on a massive online investigation trying to read parts from her diary. Wish I could get the books by Helena Whitbread! :C

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    So happy to see that ladies are reading Middlesex. It is seriously good. This year I will read lots of boring books for school, but that’s only until May. Then I shall read lots of good fiction/non-fiction/poetry/graphic novels! I am stealing big chunks of this list and adapting it as my own to sound smart and literature savvy.

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    I’m going to read:

    -Kafka on the Shore (Christmas present!)
    -Game of Thrones (at least the first)
    -The Hunger Games (borrowed from an aunt)
    -Many Years From Now (bio of Paul McCartney)
    -Fab (bio of Paul McCartney)

    Both the last two I was supposed to read last year and never did and both are enormous books. D: Also I have to finish Dune because I started reading it again and am halfway through and I have to finish it! I love that book.

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    So far this year I have read “The Silence” “Santa Olivia” “The Devil’s Gentleman” and “Water Logic”. Started “The Will of The Empress” earlier….hope to have it done by morning. I am shooting for an average of 1 book per day, as long as the insomnia holds out…

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    STOP IT
    I have about 15 billion books to read, and now there’s all this stuff from this list I want to read, like you are not a gadget, queer fairy fiction, inferno a poet’s novel, etc.
    I must read Fables. been meaning to for ages.

    and others I mean to read:
    Some of shakespeare, like Julius Caesar
    The mists of Avalon
    running with scissors
    catch 22
    gravity’s rainbow
    The Mortal Instrument
    the infernal devices

    should I read the well of loneliness? how about sarah waters?

    I have a doubt, I just added several here to my wishlist, but when I buy them,I should come back here and click through so autostraddle will get the credit right?
    and does it matter if I buy them with a giftcard? I don’t have a credit card so I want to buy a giftcard to buy some of the books in my ever-growing wish list

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    Love love love: Fables and The Hunger Games.
    Totally excited to learn about: Queer Fey Fiction, The Bridge and others…

    FWIW, I did NOT love The Magicians. I had a friend who loved it a lot, so I struggled through the whole thing. I found it way too privileged-white-dude-has-exestential-angst-over-his-own-excessive-priviledge. C’mon, man, you have magic! Where’s the joy?

    Has anyone read the second one? I want to hope it gets better (ha), but am nervous to pick it up.

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    Cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel ARE YOU MY MOTHER: A COMIC DRAMA comes out on May 1, 2012.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on it! If you haven’t read her previous novel: Fun Home, go out and get it now. It’s brilliant.

    This one concentrates on the women in her life, including her mother. I am so looking forward to it.

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    I’ve been meaning to read The Best American Nonrequired Reading forEVER and still haven’t gotten around to even purchasing it. Also, now that I’m enrolled in my first Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies course, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to delve into some appropriate literature. Whew. I’m also still trying to plod through Game of Thrones…fantasy and me…big mistake. It’s just too slow. What I should really do is go back to the borderline-smutty Firestorm and just call it a day…

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