We typically schedule the essays and reviews and lists we run at The Millions a week or two in advance. Before the U.S. election, I looked at what we had in the hopper and tried to arrange the posts for timeliness. This was basically a symbolic gesture since The Millions is a total literary miscellany, and mostly contributor-driven — we don’t have the budget to commission much work (see publisher Max Magee’s call for support here). Max and I conferred about what to run on election day itself; we agreed that a lovely, calm installment of Hannah Gersen’s Proust Diary was the thing. I asked him what we should run if Donald Trump won. “SHUT IT ALL DOWN,” he wrote, sort of joking.
It’s obvious now that our disbelief was a luxury — there were plenty of people who knew it could happen. But the shock was real, and so too was the subsequent urge to shut it down. It was unclear, in the days immediately following the election, how a literary site could possibly matter when Donald Trump was the President of the United States, when it felt that all efforts should henceforth be directed at subverting the new regime. (It’s still unclear.)
But then the Year in Reading entries started coming in, from more than 70 writers. This is the 13th year of the series, and it feels like the most necessary yet. The entries have a measure of fear and grief, yes. They are about reckoning with the past, and preparing for the future. They are also full of beauty, full of sensitivity, full of intelligence, full of curiosity and care. They are about dissolving in someone else’s consciousness. About sharing suffering. About taking a break. About falling in love.
Based on the entries this year, I can confirm that readers are still very into Elena Ferrante. But there are many other names to discover in this series — exciting debuts and forgotten classics and authors whose names were on the tip of your tongue. There are hundreds of books: novels, essays, works of nonfiction, and poems.
As in prior years, the names of our 2016 contributors will be unveiled throughout the month as entries are published (starting with our traditional opener from Languagehat’s Stephen Dodson). Bookmark this post, load up the main page, subscribe to our RSS feed, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you don’t miss an entry — we’ll run three or four per day. And if you look forward to the Year in Reading every year, please consider supporting the site and ensuring this December tradition continues for years to come.
There are difficult weeks and years ahead, but we hope you’ll be momentarily refreshed and heartened as you hear from an array of prodigious readers and writers. At the very least, you’ll find something good to read.
- Stephen Dodson, co-author of Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit, proprietor of Languagehat.
- Chigozie Obioma, contributing editor at The Millions and author of The Fishermen.
- Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories.
- Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond.
- Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens.
- Caille Millner, author of The Golden Road: Notes on My Gentrification.
- Edan Lepucki, contributing editor at The Millions and author of California.
- Matt Seidel, staff writer at The Millions.
- Sonya Chung, contributing editor at The Millions and author of The Loved Ones.
- Nick Moran, special projects editor at The Millions.
- Jacob Lambert, staff writer at The Millions.
- Michael Bourne, staff writer at The Millions.
- Tess Malone, associate editor at The Millions.
- Tana French, author of The Trespasser.
- Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, author of The Crown Ain’t Worth Much.
- Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Border of Paradise.
- Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun.
- Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls.
- Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins.
- Teddy Wayne, author of Loner.
- Brandon Shimoda, author of Evening Oracle.
- Basma Abdel Aziz, author of The Queue.
- Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers.
- Yuri Herrera, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World.
- Sally Rooney, author of Conversations with Friends.
- Bich Minh Nguyen, author of Pioneer Girl.
- Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming.
- Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me.
- Mauro Javier Cardenas, author of The Revolutionaries Try Again.
- Emily St. John Mandel, staff writer at The Millions and author of Station Eleven.
- Zoë Ruiz, staff writer at The Millions.
- Nick Ripatrazone, staff writer at The Millions.