Your (Ambitious) Holiday Reading List

by December 20, 2015
filed under Entertainment

BooksThroughout the semester, sure, I read. A book here, a book there. I listen to audiobooks when I have to photocopy for hours on end at work. I read books and articles for class, and I leaf through literary journals and magazines.

This doesn’t compare to my holiday reading. I devour books over the holidays like my family devours Christmas cookies, and somehow between my grad school applications, conference proposals, and my thesis I plan on reading the following books. Maybe you’ll like them too!

(I probably won’t get through them all, if we’re being honest here.)

1.Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (ed. Irene Gammel)
Considered to be the mother of Dada, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was an avant-garde artist and poet active in the early 20th century. She was right there alongside James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Elsa is not a household name, but she was a pioneer in badassery. Most of her work was published in 2011 in Body Sweats.


2. Sistering by Jennifer Quist
I read at the same poetry event as Jennifer back in November as part of the Flywheel reading series in Calgary. Sistering is a darkly funny novel about a group of sisters and their methods of coping as the mothers and mother-in-laws in their families die. It is darkly funny and the family chaos is uncanny. Jennifer read a passage from this book about the mother collecting the sisters’ baby teeth and keeping them for years. She threatens to swallow them and reabsorb the calcium; because this is just a typical conversation in the world of Jennifer’s wonderful characters.

“Someone is screaming in our backyard. It’s nothing. It’s typical. It’s me.”

3.Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn
Confession time: I finished this book two days after I received it in the FLURT secret santa gift exchange (but not before adding it to this list). This book is transformative; it’s intelligent, striking, compelling – and the thing I love best about it is that it urges you to read and explore more. Each poem is about an actress who met a tragic or early death. Amber leaves gaps that the reader can fill in by a quick google search that leads to more books and articles and poems.

“Li Tobler

When you find a skull in the woods,
do you leave it alone because it disturbs you
or do you leave it alone
because of what’s still living


4.The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis
I waited for this book for months. Amazon lost it twice and I had to argue with the book seller for ages. I first came across this book while working as a teaching assistant for poet Sandy Pool at the Wordsworth Youth Writing Residency. Sandy’s class was about micro fiction, and this book is over 700 pages long – just imagine how many micro-stories are packed into this transformative book. Lydia is sharp, witty and heart-wrenching, and she does so in an impeccably small space.

“Losing Memory
You ask me about Edith Wharton.
Well, the name is very familiar.”

5.Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
I only have about a hundred pages left in this book and I don’t want it to end! Audrey wrote The Time Traveller’s Wife, but in my opinion this book is more interesting. It is a story of cemeteries, ghosts, inversion, twins, ghosts, OCD and kittens. This book has the ability to make my chest hurt and make me spit out my coffee in a fit of laughter. Essentially a ghost story, Her Fearful Symmetry is a manual on the surviving power of love and family.

“You’re the oddest person I’ve ever met, you couldn’t get rid of me if you tried.”

If you need me, I’m going to be lying in my sweatpants under four blankets with a hot water bottle, reading and writing until 2016.

What are you reading this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!

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