My Favorite Books from 2017

3 01 2018

Short Reviews of My Top 3 Books of 2017

In 2016 I read 21 books, including the dense and quite long Infinite Jest (which is worth it, even in its intensity. I suggest going to Infinite Summer for tips on making it through). In 2017 I upped my total slightly and read 28 books– that’s an average of 24 pages a day.

The way I’ve managed to get this much reading done and still excessively binge television shows and have a social life and do the whole work thing is by waking up an hour earlier in the day and reading before I do anything else.

When I do this I get invested in the book and am then able to get my page count done in a timely manner on the regular. Of course, some days I read more pages than others, but the system seems to be working.

My friend has made the resolution to read a book a week this year and I plan to steal this same idea because reading takes me to much better places than most of my other daily activities seem to do. Sometimes it’s better to replace one habit with another one instead of trying to remove the old habit altogether.

Here are my top 3 favorite books from 2017, if you’re looking for something to fall into this year.

1. Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh


Ever feel like a terrible human being? Never fear, you are probably not as terrible as the characters in this collection of short stories. Moshfegh has the ability to succinctly capture the essence of a person (the good, bad, and ugly of a person) always leaving you wanting more, but happy to have experienced the little bit that you did get.

I also read her novel Eileen, which was good but felt more drawn to the collection, as it was able to show glimpses of the humanity in all its fucked-up-ness that we often rarely get to see in creative form (which is a much more pleasant place to experience it than in reality).


2. Theft By Finding Diaries 1997-2002 by David Sedaris


Even in his own diaries, Sedaris knows how to reveal the humor in the mundanity of everyday life. There were moments while reading where I literally spit out my drink because I was laughing so hard. Right when you think the moment can’t get any funnier he hits you with an even stronger punchline. If you can’t laugh at your own life, start with someone else’s, I suggest his, because humor is the best medicine for getting through the bullshit.

3. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel


Ever have the desire to desert everything and everyone you know and go live alone in the middle of nowhere? Well, one guy actually did that, not just for a day, not just for a month, but for 27 years. If he hadn’t been a thief, he probably could have gotten away with it until he died, yet, that is not quite what happened.

As someone who is pretty introverted, what I found most fascinating about the book was the exploration of solitude–the attempt to understand why someone would not want to be around any other people.

Something happened during this book, something that caused me to suddenly finally feel okay for a day. Okay that I don’t have to want to be around people. Okay that sometimes I’d rather hide and not talk to anyone. Okay that I don’t have to like all the things other people like. Through his extreme outlier lifestyle, it helped me to see the facades of our daily existence and to look at solitude as a positive solution to the noise aka nausea of modern society.


Word + Word + Word.

4 12 2012

So. The reason there were basically no blogs in November was due to that National Novel Writing thing. Where people sign up to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I did that.

Honestly, afterward, I feel nothing.

I know I should feel some sort of achievement but really I feel like I wrote the longest blog rant in the history of the universe.

In a way, it’s like all that writing didn’t even happen. I can barely remember it. Perhaps that’s how marathon runners feel. Oh yeah, I ran like 25 miles but I only remember the beginning and the end. Or something. I don’t know, I’ve never ran a marathon.

I do know that this “novel” that came out is no novel at all. It is merely a first layer of paint. Or as my friend said, an initial sketch (since paint cannot be erased and pencil can). So, these 50,000 + words are the building blocks for something better.

Obviously writing a readable novel in 30 days in pretty much impossible. I mean it took Faulkner six weeks to write As I lay Dying.

And though it took Kerouac three weeks to write On the Road (on a speed binge, mind you) he still had to have someone edit it after.

So yeah, as Annie Dillard says her book The Writing Life,

“Some people lift cars too. Some people enter week-long sled races, go over Niagara Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some people eat cars. There is no call to take human extremes as norms.”

What would be the norm as a writer is to go back and painstakingly fix every single sentence I wrote last month.

Until it is something.

Something more than the nothing that it is right now.

But I’m going to let it breath a little, like a nice glass of red wine—even though at this point it’s more like a can of Natural Light. Nonetheless, I’m going to let it rest and go back in a couple of weeks and try to resuscitate it.

Only time. And effort. Will tell.


Look Who’s Talking.

12 10 2012

Talk is hard.  Not small talk. Not even gossip or philosophical talk. But “feelings” talk. My family and I have never been the best at communicating how we feel. If someone upset us, we’d just keep it bottled in, holding small grudges until they exploded into, on occasion, family feuds. And more often than not, resentment.

The whole, “I feel ____” is actually difficult for me to say out loud. It has taken a lot of practice on my part, but I try to do it. I’m trying to do it. Because though it often makes me feel anxious, I know when it’s over I’m going to feel much better that whatever is going on between me and another person is clear. Clarity and honesty. Boundaries. Understanding. It’s very nice to have that between people, though it is more often never discussed out loud.

Why is talking about this stuff so difficult? Is it because we become vulnerable when we tell another person what we want/need? Is it because we’re afraid we’ll hurt someone else’s feelings?

If a situation happened and I pissed someone off and they didn’t express their anger to me but then a year later when I did something else that upset them they just burst out a long laundry list of everything I’ve ever done that’s irritated them, I’d think I’m be more hurt by that then if they just said right away, “Krystal, I feel frustrated when _____.” Because if I’m doing something wrong I’d want to fix it. I think most people feel this way right?

But still, I think that this type of communicating has to be made into a habit. It has to be practiced. Just like every other healthy way of living.

Okay, why am I blabbering about this today? Last night this guy I’ve been kind of seeing off and on for the last monthish and I “Friend-Zoned,” each other and I think we both came out of it just fine. It wasn’t awkward. We simply discussed it. We didn’t stop texting each other or simply avoiding one another. And now we can continue to hang out and it not be weird. Well, it might be weird, but only because both of us are weird, not that being around each other would be weird for either of us.

And yeah, with the new friend-zone, it’s back to the dating board. How thrilling for the world! I think I just need to meet a nice Jewish boy.  Or a sugar daddy. Or both!

Yeah, my friend was right about writing an encyclopedia on dating instead of just a book. But I’m thinking maybe I could do a tetralogy series, a book for each season of the year! It’s the new trilogy! It will be like 50 Shades + Twilight  + Harry Potter + Game of Thrones all mixed into one. But nothing like those at all! Sign up now for an advanced-copy!



(How does that make you feel?)