I read exactly one (1) generalist nonfiction book all year. Normally I am a huge sucker for the kind of books that do the rounds on the podcast circuit—pop-science, sprawling anthropological syntheses, whatever self-help thing is zeitgeisty. Now I still buy them, but I can’t summon the enthusiasm to actually get past the first chapter.
By way of contrast, I had no problem with narrative nonfiction and memoirs. I even managed a few hefty textbooks. But anything outside of specific object-level learning, I don’t want to know about.
In a possibly related development, this was the year I fell in love with the short story as a format. Literary fiction has always felt like a raw deal. I’m incapable of persevering through a book the size of a brick in the hopes that I will maybe be able to extract some obscure payoff (I’m on my third rejection of Brothers Karamazov). But a 20-page short story? I can deal with that, no matter how dense the prose or self-indulgent the author.
I think I read about 200 short stories this year, of which, several make the cut for my favourites below…