What I read: January 2016

I read 55 books last year. I made some guidelines for 2015: a new author every week, stick to recent releases, something literary, and only read books I never read before. Sounds boring, but it was important to me. This year, however, I’m doing whatever the hell I want. I’m not worried about a number like I was last year, or those stupid rules. I still have a reading goal (4/month), but I can read things I’ve already read and am trying some more “fun” titles.

This month was a great way to start 2016. Read one of my favorite books to kick off the new year, read two debuts from authors I’ve interviewed (links below) and read a Star Wars book that’s basically fan fiction. Check them out below.


A conversation with Sari Wilson

Sari Wilson’s (rhymes with airy) debut novel was about a decade in the making. Wilson’s head was filled with images from her childhood as a ballerina: her hair up in a tight bun, blistered feet, and countless leotards. She knew she wanted to write about the world she spent so much time in, but, more importantly, wanted to write about the emotional truth of her time training in ballet and her childhood.

The story grew and grew and became the fanciful novel Girl Through Glass. In the debut, a young rising star in the 1970s ballet world meets a shadowy middle-aged man named Maurice who becomes fascinated with her. In the present, a dance professor deals with her past as a dancer, and must confront what happened to her all of those years ago.

I spoke over the phone with Wilson for her first ever interview as an author.


My 2015 in fiction

My goal for 2015 was to read a fiction book a week by a different author. For a while, up until I went to work at a summer camp in Maine, I was way ahead of that schedule, but then I slowed down in the second half of 2015. It has been hard to read for pleasure ever since I started teaching high school literature a few years back.


‘Mr. Splitfoot’ by Samantha Hunt reviewed

[ release date: January 5, 2016 via Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]

Samantha Hunt’s latest novel, Mr. Splitfoot, is an enchanting modern gothic ghost story.

The most memorable aspect of the novel Hunt’s ability to bring to life this story that primarily deals with the dead. Her prose makes the characters feel alive, and, even though there is a lot of haunting supernaturalism at play, the characters feel real.


A conversation with Michael Bible

Michael Bible is an emerging American writer hellbent on stripping away the nonessentials of fiction. His provocative novella, Sophia explores an ambiguously spiritual reverend named Maloney. Throughout Sophia, Maloney and his best friend Eli flee the religious South they call home as they drink gallons of gin and have sexual fantasies about the Holy Ghost.

Bible’s jagged thoughts flow together to produce a dark comedy that will make readers think hard about the sins in the world around them.


A conversation with J. Ryan Stradal

J. Ryan Stradal has a lot on his plate. He is the fiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown, an editor-at-large at Unnamed Press and on the advisory board of the non-profit writing and tutoring organization 826LA. On top of all that he has a New York Times Bestseller with his debut novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

The novel is an ode to Stradal’s love of his native midwest and the culinary world. He’s adamant on writing stories that dive deeper into underrepresented characters and finding the next interesting novel.

He spoke at length about the Los Angeles literary scene, the evolution of Kitchens and the beginning of what’s next.