My 2018 in Reading and Writing

Roxane Gay
Jan 17, 2019 · 9 min read
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2018 was an eventful year. I had surgery. I started going to therapy again. I wrote about love, and the importance of voting while disillusioned, and a year of #MeToo, and activism fatigue, and Roseanne and Roseanne again, and how it is our responsibility to deal with Trump’s racism, and the shooting in Thousand Oaks, and Louis C.K. and men like him who think they can dictate their comebacks, and a short story called Boy In a Coma, and whether or not we can separate the art from the artist, and how much I hated the show Insatiable, and I am forgetting some things but I am not so good at keeping track anymore. My very first book, Ayiti, was re-released. My memoir, Hunger, came out in paperback. I curated an anthology about , and an anthology about rape culture called Not That Bad, and edited Best American Short Stories 2018. I worked on things you will be reading or watching in the coming years. I wrote an episode of a limited series and the studio didn’t like it and it was a failure but I learned from it. I had my first manicure and the manicurist came to my apartment and made our fingernails pretty. I went to a movie premiere with my best friend and we met Janelle Monae and saw lots of celebrities including M’Baku, a man who makes me wish I was a carrot. I won an Eisner for World of Wakanda, and I am really proud of that. I traveled way too much and did a lot of speaking engagements. I saw Beyoncé and her fella in concert with seven wonderful people and we had really great seats. Beyoncé waved at me so we might be married now. I went to Vegas with new friends and saw Magic Mike Live and the show is masterful and the drinks are HUGE. A difficult thing happened but it happened with a lot of grace and love. I had to deal with my feelings instead of eating them and I did, mostly. I appeared on I Love You America. I did an event with Geena Davis. I bought a house and did it all on my own and it still doesn’t feel real because I never thought such a thing would be possible. I learned that when you own a house you are responsible for its care and feeding. On a very bad day, the plumbing exploded two weeks after I moved in. I quit my day job because I was not valued there the way I deserve to be valued at this point in my career and if I am thinking too highly of myself for that, I will be okay. I won a Guggenheim fellowship. I received a presidential fellowship from Yale University which brought one part of my life full circle and now I am teaching there I guess. I started dating a lovely woman who walks very fast, and thinks she is 5'4.5", bless her heart (she’s like 5'2"). I exercised a lot and hated every moment of it. I went to London for the first time and it was fine but the people I met were amazing and I enjoyed going on the London Eye and the Tate Modern was well worth the visit. I made a Skillshare class. I went on the Bitch Sesh podcast which is such important work. I worked with my Purdue thesis students and now they’re getting agents and selling the books they wrote and I could not be more proud. I saw Hamilton and loved it. I did a conversation thing with Hannah Gadsby who is a delight. I saw The Color Purple and absolutely loved it. I saw Once On This Island and absolutely loved it. I was able to go to theater again because I could sort of fit in the seats instead of not being able to fit at all. I went to a fancy party with a friend and we saw fancy people. I went to another fancy party with that friend and we saw fancy people. I was often immature on Twitter. I was interviewed 333 times. I let the world know I have nemeses, and they will be defeated. There are nine, but the main one, she receives the majority of my petty energy, as she fucking well should.

I also read a lot and as I do every year, here is that reading list…

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Sunburn was dark but not too dark, thrilling, richly descriptive with an utterly compelling protagonist. What I particularly liked about her was how unapologetic and ruthless she was. Lippman really leaned into letting this character be terrible in an eminently readable way. I read this book at a furious pace and never forgot about it all year. Sunburn was a reminder that storytelling matters and good storytelling is all too rare.

All the Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva

It was a close tie for my favorite two books of the year. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is exemplary. I knew nothing about this book going in and was thrilled by each story. There is so much range here, and there is a nice fabulist edge to nearly all the stories. The writer wields so much confidence and control in her prose and my goodness, what imagination, what passion there is in this work. From one story to the next I felt like the writer knows everything about everything. One of the best collections I’ve ever read. Every single story is a stand out.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
Chemistry by Weike Wang
Meet Behind Mars by Renee Simms
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters by Tom Santopietro

Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross Smith
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Heavy by Kiese Laymon
I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceanaux
Lilith, But Dark by Nichole Perkins
A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing by Damaris B. Hill
Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Thick And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Brute by Emily Skaja
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Everything’s Trash But That’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson
Maid by Stephanie Land

The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen

Cherry by Nico Walker

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

She Wants It by Jill Soloway

The Lost One by Sheena Kamal
All Falls Down by by Sheena Kamal

Blood Vinyls by Yolanda J. Franklin
American Sonnets For my Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes
Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Fragile by Cheryl Hopson
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
Oceanic by Aimee Nehzukumatathil

Blue Rose by Carol Muske-Dukes

Any Man by Amber Tamblyn

Frail Sister by Karen Green

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman
Self-Portrait As Your Traitor by Debbie Millman

Days of Awe by A.M. Homes

Dead Man Running by Steve Hamilton

The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

by Oyinkan Braithewaithe

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

Love, Loss and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush

Eat the Apple by Matt Young

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester

A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim

There There by Tommy Orange
Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun.

The Third Hotel by Laura Vandenberg

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks and the Making of an Oil Frontier by Maya Rao

Sick by Porochista Khakpour
The Weight of Being by Kara Richardson Whitely

Our Town: A 100,000 mile journey into the Heart of America by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows
The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West by John Branch
Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich

Roxane Gay

Written by

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.

Roxane Gay

Written by

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.

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