Biographies, poetry, and one graphic novel: My 2013 reading resolutions


As January chugs along, I’ve decided that 2013 should bring with it some book-related resolutions on my part, as I can no longer be trusted to pick up anything that doesn’t promise humor, action, or the cloyingly timid romantic advances of potentially supernatural young adults.

Believe it or not, this is the third year of Sorry Television, which either means I’ve finally settled into the routine of being an unpaid but extremely enthusiastic book blogger, or that I should discover a new hobby. Maybe both. Either way, I took a look back through the 115 books I’ve read since launching ST back in November 2010, and this is how it shakes out.

Fiction (mostly literary with a few mass-market choices): 37 books / 32%
Nonfiction: 22 books / 19%
Young Adult: 14 books / 12%
Memoirs: 11 books / 10%
Science fiction/Fantasy: 10 books / 9%
Essays: 9 books / 8%
Classics: 5 books / 4%
Trash (two Sookie Stackhouse books and three Fifty Shades): 5 books / 4%
Short stories: 2 books / 2%

All in all, a moderately diverse showing, but I see some definite room for improvement. Which is where you guys come in. Here are the literary genres I’d like to work into my 2013 reading list:

1. More classics: I went to a weird high school that made us read novels from around the world instead of your typical 20th century American fare (I know, how silly!) Consequently, I’ve missed out on some fundamentals, books like Animal Farm and Gulliver’s Travels. I’ve spent the intervening decade trying to make up for lost time, but could always use a point in the right direction. Which classics are worth their hype?

2. Biographies: With the exception of Walter Isaacson’s opus on Steve Jobs, I’ve essentially read zero biographies in my life, which is for the most part a byproduct of finding them painfully boring. Still, there must be good ones. I leave it to you to tell me what they are.

3. Poetry: I don’t know that my Internet-addled brain every got out of the mentality that poetry is something you read if only and if a teacher has assigned it. Also, my inner cynic is immediately skeptical of anything purporting to be “meaningful” at the expense of being self-aware. Suggest some poetry that won’t make me want to stab artists.

4. History: I’m told that like, a lot of things have already happened? And that I might want to know about them? Things like wars, despots, technological advancements and massive cultural paradigm shifts. My BO2012 list provided a few candidates in this realmβ€”The Passage of Power and Iron Curtain among themβ€”but historical nonfiction is a mighty big genre; what have you read that doesn’t include the sorts of battlefield descriptions that will result in my taking an accidental nap?

5. And finally, one, I said one, graphic novel: After resisting the urge to scream, “But they’re just really long comic books!” I’ve decided that I should give this growing genre a chance. If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring along only one graphic novel, which one would it be?

And that’s it: one year, five goals. Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments section below to share your thoughts. (Other, non-classic/biography/poetry/history/graphic novel suggestions also welcome.)

6 thoughts on “Biographies, poetry, and one graphic novel: My 2013 reading resolutions”

  1. I just read a great Jefferson biography by R.B. Bernstein. It was short – 200 pages in all, but really fascinating. It has motivated me to read biographies of other founding fathers.

    As for Classics, definitely, definitely Mrs. Dalloway and Lolita. I am a classics geek, and these are 2 of my absolute favorites. Happy reading!

  2. 1. Watchmen: The father of the modern comics genre. Do not see the movie, the comic is much more layered and… strange. Its THE classic superheroic graphic novel. Superheros have been banned, someone is killing the retired heroes off. An investigation proves heroes may be the wrong word. Highly recommended.

    2. From Hell: Another deeply layered, deeply strange book also written by Alan Moore. Also do not see the movie its totally different.. A look at the society that produced Jack the Ripper and how his crimes came to define the era.

    3. Maus. Semi-biographical comic about the holocaust. Except the jews are mice, the Nazi’s are cats and the polish are pigs. It also covers your “high school classics” category in that its assigned in high schools across america today.

    4. We3. 3 deadly cyborg war machines- a house cat, a domesticated dog and a pet rabbit – escape from the military base where they were created and basically reenact the movie homeward bound. Short and oddly touching.

    5. All-Star Superman: Frantic ultimate “good guy” story. Meditation on what it means to be a “super-man” means and a love letter to the classic superman comics of the 60’s.

    6. Batman: Year One or Batman: The Long Halloween- dark and gritty, these GN’s were the inspiration for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

    7. DMZ vol. 1. A cheat because its the first in a series, I still think you’d like it. Manhattan is a demilitarized zone after the second civil war results in a standoff between the Free States Army (occupying the Midwest through New Jersey) and the United States Army (The Northeast) and a journalist is sent into the war-zone to report.

    8. Y the Last Man vol. 1. Also a cheat due to it being vol. 1 of 6- the world awakes and every male mammal on earth dies simultaneously. Except one man and his pet monkey. Meditation on gender relations and how society recovers from catastrophe.

  3. @Chelsea: I read some Virginia Woolf in high school and can only remember hating it. But on the strength of your enthusiasm, I’ll give Mrs. Dalloway a go (I’ve never read it.)

    @Matt: Wow. Your list will require some additional research on my part. A+ for enthusiasm.

  4. History: McCullough’s The Great Bridge (perfect for the commute)
    Classic: Animal Farm is worth knocking off, and I’d second Lolita. What about Gatsby?
    Poetry: Maybe do a combo with classic and read Meditations in an Emergency. Also, The Heaven-Sent Leaf by Katy Lederer is timely and worthwhile.
    Biography: There’s always McCullough’s John Adams, too. And what about the added intrigue of autobiographies? Ben Franklin’s is a delightful rendering of his mind and his country (and another classic combo). Bob Dylan’s Chronicles is special as well.
    Graphic: Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson is hard to beat, or his Tricked for a little less heft – but why would you want that on your sole allowance?

    I am disappointed in the short shrift for short stories. Newly publicized George Saunders? Whiz kid Wells Tower? Models Flannery O’Connor, Stuart Dybek… worth keeping in mind for further diversity. And have you ever tried reading a play? For another classic combo, you could get a Tennessee Williams collection and try out the whole creation, particularly the stuff in italics, sans stage.

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