己亥年的书架 2019: A (Chinese) Year in Books

I’m a bit late getting this list posted this year. Chinese New Year found my family and I struggling to decide whether to remain in Chengdu as the coronavirus epidemic worsened. Ultimately, we chose to leave. The Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao jie 元宵节)–last night of the New Year celebrations and the usual time I write this post–found us in Japan, watching from over the waters as China took dramatic action to control the epidemic. When it became clear that situation was not going to improve quickly, we continued our journey, back to the U.S. and my family, with whom we are now living.

I debated with myself about whether to write this post this year. It felt slightly frivolous under the circumstances. At first, I decided to write it because a lot of people have a lot of time on their hands, and what better way to spend it than reading? Having watched the world react to the new virus for some time, however, I decided there was a better reason to continue with my tradition. The world has not faced a situation like this for a century. People are understandably worried and frightened. On Facebook I frequently see posts referring to this as the “end of the world”–but it isn’t.

Humanity has seen far worse than this and will no doubt see far worse in the future. As several of my Facebook friends have reminded us, many of our greatest books were written in plague years, and many more were inspired by difficult times like these. Now more than ever, it is important that we remember that we are not animals–we are humans–and our lives are more than a gathering together of molecules. As William Faulkner said–speaking of the fear of nuclear war–in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (which I highly encourage you to reread), humanity’s greatness does not lie in its ability to endure but rather in the certainty that it will prevail:

He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Truly great writing can help us to remember what it is truly great in our humanity. It is in that spirit that I offer my reading journal for the last year, in hopes that something on it may help someone find inspiration as we face the most challenging year in recent memory.

  1. Douglas Adams, “Young Zaphod Plays it Safe”
  2. M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
  3. Arabian Nights (ed. Mushin Mahdi, trans. Husain Haddawi)
  4. St. Augustine, Confessions Books I-IX (trans. F.J. Sheed)
  5. Natalie Babbitt, Barking with the Big Dogs
  6. Natalie Babbitt, Kneeknock Rise
  7. Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
  8. J.G. Ballard, The Crystal World
  9. J.G. Ballard, The Drought
  10. J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World
  11. Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen (trans. Louise Varèse)
  12. Mary Anne Baker, “Station Life in New Zealand” (in Mark MacKenzie ed., Curiosities and Splendour: An Anthology of Classic Travel Literature)
  13. John Baxter, “The Hands”
  14. Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism
  15. Isabella Bird, “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains” (in Mark MacKenzie ed., Curiosities and Splendour: An Anthology of Classic Travel Literature)
  16. Algernon Blackwood, “Ancient Sorceries”
  17. Algernon Blackwood, “The Glamour of the Snows”
  18. Algernon Blackwood, “The Insanity of Jones (A Study in Reincarnation)”
  19. Algernon Blackwood, “The Man who Found Out”
  20. Algernon Blackwood, “The Man whom the Trees Loved”
  21. Algernon Blackwood, “Smith: An Episode in Lodging House”
  22. Algernon Blackwood, “The Wendigo”
  23. Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows”
  24. Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder”
  25. Jamal Brinkley, “I Happy Am”
  26. Robert Byron, “The Road to Oxiana” (in Mark MacKenzie ed., Curiosities and Splendour: An Anthology of Classic Travel Literature)
  27. Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium
  28. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  29. André Carneiro, “Darkness”
  30. Willa Cather, The Professor’s House
  31. Lan Samantha Chang, “Hunger”
  32. Lan Samantha Chang, “San”
  33. Lan Samantha Chang, “Water Names”
  34. C.J. Cherryh, “The Threads of Time”
  35. Rosalie Colie, “Genre-Systems and the Functions of Literature” (in David Duff ed., Modern Genre Theory)
  36. Susan Cooper, “Worlds Apart” (in The Origins of Story)
  37. F. Marion Crawford, “The Screaming Skull”
  38. Sharon Creech, Chasing Redbird
  39. Sharon Creech, “Leaping off the Porch” (in The Origins of Story)
  40. Gillian Cross, Up the Beanstalk” (in The Origins of Story)
  41. David Damrosch, “Introduction: World Literature in Theory and Practice” (in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  42. Paula Danziger, Amber Brown Goes Fourth
  43. Paula Danziger, Amber Brown is not a Crayon
  44. Paula Danziger, You Can’t Eat Your Chickenpox, Amber Brown
  45. William Theodore de Bary, “Asia in the Core Curriculum” (in William Theodore de Bary ed., Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics)
  46. William Theodore de Bary, “Asian Classics as the Great Books of the East” (in William Theodore de Bary ed., Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics)
  47. William Theodore de Bary, “The Great Civilized Conversation: Cases in Point” (in William Theodore de Bary ed., Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics)
  48. René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (trans. Donald A. Cress)
  49. Late DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses
  50. Lord Dunsany, “How Nuth would have Practiced his Art upon the Gnoles”
  51. Boris Eichenbaum, “The Theory of the Formalist Method” (trans. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reid, in Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays)
  52. T.S. Eliot, “Reflections on Vers Libre” (in Garrick Davis ed., Praising it New: The Best of the New Criticism)
  53. Sarah Ellis, “Play’s the Thing” (in The Origins of Story)
  54. The Epic of Gilgamesh (trans. Benjamin R. Foster)
  55. Epictetus, The Handbook (Encheiridion, trans. Nicholas P. White)
  56. René Etiemble, “Should we Rethink the Notion of World Literature” (trans. Theo D’haen, in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  57. Danielle Evans, “Virgins”
  58. William Faulkner, The Unvanquished
  59. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (trans. Lydia Davis)
  60. E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel
  61. Ben Fountain, “Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera”
  62. John Frow, Genre (The New Critical Idiom)
  63. Fu Daiwie, “The Flourishing of Biji or Pen-Notes Texgts and its Relations to the History of Knowledge in Song China (960-1279)”
  64. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
  65. John Gardner, On Moral Fiction
  66. John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
  67. Edmund Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  68. William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum”
  69. Sophie GIlmore, Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast
  70. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Conversations with Eckermann regarding Weltliteratur” (trans. John Oxenford, in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  71. John C. Goodman, Poetry: Tools and Techniques
  72. Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, Grimms’ Tales for Young and Old (trans. Ralph Manheim)
  73. Lauren Groff, “Ghosts and Empties”
  74. Hanshan 寒山, 《寒山诗注(附拾得诗注)》(Annotated Poetry of Cold Mountain—with Annotated Poetry of Shide, ed. Xiang Chu 项楚)
  75. Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle
  76. Hanshan 寒山, The Poetry of Hanshan (trans. Robert G. Henricks)
  77. Jean Hanson, “Love is in the Little Lies”
  78. Gilbert Harman, “The Inference to the Best Explanation” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  79. Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State
  80. Rosalind Hursthouse, “Virtue Ethics” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  81. Karen Inglis, The Secret Lake
  82. M.R. James, “Casting the Runes”
  83. Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland
  84. Miranda July, “The Shared Patio”
  85. Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”
  86. Alice Sola Kim, “Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters”
  87. Damon Knight, “Stranger Station”
  88. Geoffrey A. Landis, “Ripples in the Dirac Sea”
  89. Rae Langton, “Ignorance of Things in Themselves” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  90. Stanislaw Lem, Cyberiad
  91. Stanislaw Lem, Eden
  92. Stanislaw Lem, His Master’s Voice
  93. Stanislaw Lem, The Invincible
  94. Stanislaw Lem, Memoirs of s Space Traveler: Further Reminisces of Ijon Tichy
  95. Claude Levi-Strauss, “The Structural Study of Myth”
  96. Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  97. Kelly Link, “The Cannon”
  98. Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag”
  99. Kelly Link, “The Hortlak”
  100. Lu Xun 鲁迅, “狂人日记 (Diary of a Madman)”
  101. Gregory Maguire, “When Wolves Sing Mozart” (in The Origins of Story)
  102. Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor” (from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. Martin Milligan, in Robert C. Tucker ed., The Marx-Engels Reader)
  103. Karl Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach” (in Robert C. Tucker ed., The Marx-Engels Reader)
  104. Richard Matheson, “Death Ship”
  105. Ariel Evans Mayse ed., From the Depths of the Well: An Anthology of Jewish Mysticism
  106. Hugo Meltzl, “Present Tasks of Comparative Literature” (trans. Hans-Joachim Schulz and Phillip H. Rhein, in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  107. A. Merritt, “The People of the Pit”
  108. Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle”
  109. John Milton, “An Apology for Smectymnuus” (selections)
  110. John Milton, “Areopagitica”
  111. John Milton, Comus
  112. John Milton, “Lycidas”
  113. John Milton, “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
  114. John Milton, Paradise Lost book I
  115. John Milton, preface to the second book of “The Reason of Church Government”
  116. John Milton, various short poems
  117. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  118. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality (trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swenson)
  119. Ireneusz Opacki, “Royal Genres” (trans. David Malcolm, in David Duff ed., Modern Genre Theory)
  120. Ovid, Metamorphoses VI-IX
  121. Nnedi Okorafor, Binti
  122. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Bird Parade
  123. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Black Hound
  124. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Midnight Giant
  125. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Mountain King
  126. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Stone Forest
  127. Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Troll
  128. Dan Pilkey, The Adventures of Captain Underpants
  129. Robert Pinsky, Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters
  130. John Pizer, “The Emergence of Weltliteratur: Goethe and the Romantic School” (in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  131. Rachel Pollack, “Burning Sky”
  132. Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic
  133. Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic
  134. Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
  135. Terry Pratchett, Mort
  136. Vladimir Propp, “Fairy Tale Transformations” (trans. C.H. Severens, in David Duff ed., Modern Genre Theory)
  137. Kim Stanley Robinson, “Before I Wake”
  138. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men” (trans. Donald A. Cress)
  139. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts” (trans. Donald A. Cress)
  140. Edward Said, “Traveling Theory” (in David Damrosch ed., World Literature in Theory)
  141. Saki, “Sredni Vashtar”
  142. Eric Schaller, “How the Future Got Better”
  143. Victor Schlovsky, “Art as Technique” (trans. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis, in Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays)
  144. John Searle, “Can Computers Think?” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  145. Maurice Sendak, “Jack and Guy and Rosie” (in The Origins of Story)
  146. William Shakespeare, As You Like It
  147. Karen Shepard, “Fire Horse”
  148. Karen Shepard, “Popular Girls”
  149. Robert Silverberg, “Needle in a Timestack”
  150. Dana Simpson, Phoebe and her Unicorn vol. 1
  151. J.J.C. Smart, “Sensations and Brain Processes” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  152. Clark Ashton Smith, “The Tale of Satampra Zeiros”
  153. Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon”
  154. Rabindranath Tagore, “The Hungry Stones”
  155. William Tenn, “The Ghost Standard”
  156. Justin Torres, We the Animals
  157. ”浦島太郎 (Urashima Tarō)” (in Anne McNulty and Eriko Sato ed., Japanese Stories for Language Learners)
  158. Tsukushi Akihito, Made in Abyss, vols. 1-7
  159. Laura van den Berg, Third Hotel
  160. Vasubandhu, “Twenty Verses with Autocommentary” (trans. Nilanjan Das, in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  161. Jonathan Vogel, “Skepticism and Inference to the Best Explanation” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  162. Voltaire, Candide (trans. Robert M. Adams)
  163. Philip F. C. Williams, “Twentieth Century Fiction” (in Victor Mair ed., The Columbia History of Chinese Literature)
  164. Timothy Williamson, “Knowledge and Belief” (in Gideon Rosen et al. ed., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy)
  165. W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy” (in Garrick Davis ed., Praising it New: The Best of the New Criticism)
  166. James White, “Sector General”
  167. Tobias Wolff, “Awaiting Orders”
  168. Yamazaki Kore, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, vols. 1-11
  169. Cong Ellen Zhang, “To be ‘Erudite in Miscellaneous Knowledge’: A Study of Song (960-1279) ‘Biji’ Writing”

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