A Year in Reading: Esmé Weijun Wang

Good books in 2016 have been bright lights to remember and hold close. I write this in the wake of the election, when almost no books seem appealing, and all I want to do is sleep and cry. And yet it’s been an amazing year for me personally and professionally; my debut novel was published this year, and I won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, which means that I’ll have another book out in a couple of years. This mix of events was reflected in the books I read -- for comfort and solace I reread The 10 Letters Project, by Jen Lee and Tim Manley, as a reminder of the value of friendship and art-making; I read (and loved) M.F.K. Fisher's The Art of Eating because I love books about food, but hadn't yet read that particular classic; How to Live with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide, by Toni Bernhard, is a how-to that kept me sane on many feverish days. Home, by Marilynne Robinson, is an all-time favorite, and I’ve been returning to it when no other book seems right. But most of the best books I read this year were upsetting ones. I admired Charlotte Shane's Prostitute Laundry for its stark and brilliant writing on sex work and love; Han Kang's The Vegetarian is one of the most terrifying books I've ever read, and absolutely deserving of the Man Booker International Prize; Solmaz Sharif's Look was memorable for its ferocity and clear-eyed language. My year in reading has been both soothing and discomfiting, and that feels absolutely appropriate. More from A Year in Reading 2016 Do you love Year in Reading and the amazing books and arts content that The Millions produces year round? We are asking readers for support to ensure that The Millions can stay vibrant for years to come. Please click here to learn about several simple ways you can support The Millions now. Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005