Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

Reading books in 2015

I envy those who keep a tidy log of everything they've read in a year. I'd like to be that organized, that committed to recording my activities. Each year I read Nicholas Feltron's annual reports with these little temporary bursts of something like envy. If I studied myself to that degree, what would I learn? I'd probably learn the underlying reason that I don't actually study myself. So much data to disappoint me. 

But: I read a lot of terrific books in 2015 (not all of which were published in 2015, so this might not just echo the many, many other year-end lists that are rampant right now). Some were old books I've read for the first time, or old favorites I've re-read again, or new titles that caught my eye. A few are even books that I read with my daughter, Squish. These were fifteen of my favorites this year:

  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen
  • Step Aside, Pops, Kate Beaton
  • Man v. Nature*, Diane Cook
  • The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity, Louise DeSalvo
  • Fortunately, the Milk, Neil Gaiman
  • Mortality, Christopher Hitchens
  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Dead Wake*, Erik Larson
  • Station Eleven*, Emily St. John Mandel
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
  • Gratitude, Oliver Sacks
  • Contact, Carl Sagan
  • Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos, Stephanie Roth Sisson
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest*, J. Ryan Stradal

The asterisks denote the most un-put-down-able reads of the whole bunch.

I'm also a Powell's addict, and I spent lots of time there this year, listening to authors talk about their books. This year, among many others, I met Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Bill Clegg, Patrick DeWitt, Lauren Groff, Lev Grossman, Ethan Hawke, Edan Lepucki, Sarah Vowell, Karolina Waclawiak. 

Being a Powell's addict also means I never leave without buying more books than I can possibly read. I regularly purge my bookshelves of most things I've read (except for inscribed books or personal favorites I expect to return to), donating the books or swapping them for new reads. Which means my shelves are my to-be-read list, and they're stuffed full. Among the titles I'm desperately looking forward to reading as soon as possible:

  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld, Justin Hocking
  • The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson
  • The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  • Fortune Smiles, Adam Johnson
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra
  • Slade House, David Mitchell
  • Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
  • Spies and Commissars, Robert Service
  • Marrow Island, Alexis Smith
  • Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins
  • The Wrath of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Greatest Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
  • My Documents, Alejandro Zambra

(Although of course my reading needs shift from moment to moment, so it's entirely possible 2016 will pass without my reading any of these, and instead digging into the dozens and dozens of other unread books on the shelves.)

I've always found that the right book falls into my hands at the right time, regardless of when it was published or how long it's waited on a shelf for me to discover it. This has been a terrific year for reading. I hope it has been for you, too. 

The first hardcover!

Six weeks!