Sunday, January 3, 2021

Books I read in 2020

I read 73 books this year. 31 nonfiction books, 18 novels, 8 poetry collections, 7 story collections, 2 graphic novels, 2 literary magazines, 1 anthology. I read 2 books twice. I read 8 books I'd already read, 9 translations, and 10 unpublished books.


Chilly Scenes of Winter (1976) by Ann Beattie. I read this when I was 20 or 21 and again later in my twenties and a third time this year. It was like I remembered—funny, tender, bleak, vivid. 

Concrete (1982) by Thomas Bernhard. Around 60-70 percent through this, I remembered I'd already it when I was 23 or so. My favorite Bernhard that I've read is Woodcutters.

Childhood's End (1953) by Arthur C. Clarke. I've been thinking about writing a "retelling" of this, which I've read four times now. It's about aliens who arrive on Earth and steward the human species into a higher dimension, which the aliens themselves—who work for a higher-dimensional entity called the Overmind—can't access.

Problems (2016) by Jade Sharma. I liked this a lot. From what I remember, it was about a depressed woman on heroin who, after the end of a relationship, supports herself through sex work while living in an apartment she bought with inheritance money. I want to try using the form of this book—different-length sections with space breaks between them—in something I write. An excerpt:

Mountain Road, Late at Night (2020) by Alan Rossi. This was in four parts, with each part from the perspective of a different character. One character has moved to a rural area in the mountains. One character is on a vow of silence that made me want to go on a vow of silence. In the last part, a character is dying after a car accident, and I cried a little. Sample sentence: 

It was impossible to tell, he thought, what was real and what wasn't, and he thought that his problem was that he thought some moments were real and some weren't, that some moments appeared to be real and some appeared to be a dream that needed to be woken from.

Territory of Light (2019) by Yuko Tsushima

Sachie, A Daughter of Hawai'i (1977) by Patsy Sumie Saiki.

Empathy (1992) by Sarah Schulman.

The Town (2020) by Shaun Prescott. My literary agent, Bill Clegg, sent me this. It's about a town in Australia where holes start appearing for no reason. My favorite scene was in a bar/club where people start fighting and many people fall into a hole and disappear and people seem okay/fine with it. The tone was deadpan and gently comical. 

Vagablonde (2020) by Anna Dorn. This was about a 30-year-old attorney ("The same way kids think they're invisible when they cover their eyes, I assume everyone is inside my brain. Maybe that's why I hate everyone.") who becomes a rapper. It was fast-paced, at times very funny, and had moving scenes with parents and partners. It reminded me a little of my life around 2009-2011. I'm excited for Anna's next book, a memoir titled Bad Lawyer

Sad Janet (2020) by Lucie Britsch. This was about a woman who works at a dog shelter and is surrounded by people on antidepressants and then seemingly starts taking a pill that is like an antidepressant that just works for Christmas. It was originally titled Happy Fucking Christmas Janet, according to a tweet by Lucie. Sample sentence-pair: 

We all spend our lives pushing and pulling in a million directions, until we're too tired to push another inch. Whatever's left is the life we all share.

Something Gross by Big Bruiser Dope Boy. This was an intense, moving novel featuring varied and complex relationships, heavy drug-use, and extremely long text messages. It was told in a concise and wide-ranging and sort of "no-nonsense" manner that wasn't afraid to make jokes or be emotional or say things that would be alienating to certain readers. Events conveyed were both funny and painful. Big Bruiser Dope Boy is looking for a publisher for it I think. I published the second chapter of it here.

Soft Damage by Kristen Iskandrian. I traded my forthcoming novel to Kristen for her novel, which I think doesn't have a publisher yet. It was calming and stimulating and fun to read. It was focused on a character named Nadine, covering her life from ages 12 to 60, set in and around Philadelphia and then in Georgia. Some favorite phrases/lines: "unseemly verging on obscene", "she felt sapped and weird, her day having consisted of nothing at all but feelings", "Nadine rubbed her ear with her shoulder," "What was to stop her from making ten bad decisions in a row, from disappearing?" 

Be Brief and Tell Them Everything by Brad Listi. I traded with Brad too. I think Brad's novel is being submitted now to publishers. It read like nonfiction. The title didn't disappoint. I enjoyed hearing Brad's voice in my mind reading his book as I read his book, which I found funny and very readable but also serious and contemplative. Favorite parts include when the narrator quits Twitter; tells stories about his podcast (talking to Lynne Tillman, Tim O'Brien, others); discusses his kids, including one with a disability; and uses mushrooms in a careful, planned way, staying in one place home alone with covered eyes.

Our Last Year by Alan Rossi. Traded with Alan too. Our Last Year is focused—autobiographically, Alan told me—on the relationship of a married couple with two kids. Like Alan's first novel, it's in four parts. In "Fall," the wife reveals she wants to see other people. In "Winter," she sees another person and feels dissatisfied. In "Spring," the couple see an elder psychotherapist together. In "Summer," they've stopped seeing the psychotherapist and seem to be doing better. Interspersed between paragraphs on the people and their thoughts and feelings are wider-view paragraphs describing nature—the sun flying through the galaxy, a storm crossing a continent, a mountain lion moving around near a ski resort. Characters experience intense doubt and frustration on various time-scales, from seconds to days, yet it was uplifting to read. I felt myself gaining more perspective on my own relationship and life while reading it.

Pure Colour by Sheila Heti. Traded with Sheila too. I think this is coming out in early 2022. It's about a character named Mira whose dad dies. At one point, Mira turns into a leaf, and both she and her dad exist in the leaf. The way Sheila wrote about death, not viewing it as a terrible thing but as a mysterious and unique thing which can have the effect of peacefulness and even joy in the loved ones of the person who has died, was surprising and heartening and also realistic-seeming to me. I felt very moved by the passages on Mira and her dad, and by sentences and passages that gave consolatory views on death, like "She knew that one day, death would find her, in the same way it had found him. But that this was nothing to fear, or feel sad about, for there would be something vaster that would hold you in its arms, something vaster even than your own daughter." I liked the mix of playful, fantastical elements and grief. It seemed like a combination of Sheila's story collection and her book Motherhood.

How I Met Funko Werpy and Saved the World (Sort of) by Liam Temple and Sheila Heti. A zany and imaginative novel that Sheila and her young friend, who is 11 I think, wrote together. It reminded me of Terry Pratchett, who I'd forgotten I'd read a long time ago.

Ketchup by Sam Pink. Traded with Sam too. Enjoyed this a lot. The narrator of Ketchup works at a restaurant/bar called Pop's that is run by Mary and her mom Vicky, who are 66 and 91. Other characters include Mack (a former Marine who talks about starting his own army) and Denny (a forty-something man who works at a gas station and has a sword collection in the trunk of his car). After reading Ketchup, I had lines and ideas from it going through my head in a calming, life-improving (I felt) way, like "Lifeboat policy from here on out," "A cell of something larger," "To commit to the neverending," and "The only escape: straight forward." 


Imaginary Museums (2020) by Nicolette Polek. I reread this while working on my interview with Nicolette. I published earlier drafts of two stories from this here.

Break It Down (1986) by Lydia Davis. Davis's first story-collection, published when she was 38 or 39, is my favorite collection by her. I first read it when I was 20 or so. Favorite stories include "Therapy," "The Fish," and "Five Signs of Disturbance." The first story, "Story," was expanded, it seems, into the novel The End of the Story (1995), which I've also read multiple times.
Like a Champion (2018) by Vincent Chu. Moving, calming, tender stories about relatively meek, calm people. I read this after reading an article where Vincent said he was inspired by Taipei. I published the first story from this here

Cosmogony (2021) by Lucy Ives. I blurbed this: "I recommend Lucy Ives’ inventive collection of complex, deadpan, analytical, interrelated, controlledly wandering stories about divorce, lies, fear, parents, memes, the internet, art, artists, information, and literature." It's coming out in March.

The Dominant Animal (2020) by Kathryn Scanlan. 41 strange, short short stories. My favorites include "Design for a Carpet" and "Mother's Teeth," in which a woman accompanies her mom, who seems to have treated her daughter terribly in the past, to chemotherapy, and which ends: 

But now she is dead and I am rich because everything she owned is mine, which—in my understanding—is the best possible outcome for this story.

Where the Wild Ladies Are (2020) by Aoko Matsuda. Stories inspired by traditional Japanese ghost stories. My favorite was a story in second-person titled "The Jealous Type" that says "The moment you sense something the slightest bit off in your husband's behavior, jealousy takes hold of you," and "Your go-to strategy when seized by the feeling is to throw things," and "When it's all over, you stand there like Moses, a lone figure parting a sea of curtain. Your husband, who is cowering in the corner of the room, looks at you in astonishment."

Her Lesser Work (2021) by Elizabeth Ellen. This is coming out this year from Short Flight/Long Drive. I like Elizabeth's stories a lot. I've previously enjoyed her story-collection Saul Stories, which was focused on an adult hanging out with her teenage daughter's friends. Her Lesser Work is focused more on adults experiencing a variety of relationships with other adults. There seemed to be a theme of divorce, of it being difficult to gain the strength to divorce a husband. My favorite stories include "Signs," "Lucky Woman," which is forthcoming in Harper's, and one titled "The Last Time I Saw My Father" that I'm publishing soon on Muumuu House.


but did you die? by Precious Okoyomon. This is one of the two books that I read twice this year. I think it's coming out soon from Birds, LLC. I blurbed it: "I recommend but did you die?—a dark, deep, weird, emotional, eschatological book of poems on love, death, time, rain, the sky, the sun, bodies, blackness, suffering, leakage, confusion, worlds, souls, dreams, birds, and being stoned that I've read four times."

The Songs of the South: An Ancient Chinese Anthology of Poems (2011) by Qu Yuan and Other Poets. I read this while researching Nüwa—the oldest known Chinese deity, creator in Chinese mythology of both the universe and humans—for my novel. She is mentioned briefly, in one poem by Qu Yuan, who was born in 340 BC. The introduction of this book calls Qu Yuan "China's first poet," and notes that "Li Sao" ("On Encountering Trouble"), the first and longest poem in the book, "is the only work that can with certainty be attributed to him." Qu Yuan wrote in a style called, by the author of the introduction, "Plaint-poetry" which had a tone of "slightly subversive disgruntlement." Favorite lines from "Li Sao": 

I will no longer care that no one understands me, 
As long as I can keep the sweet fragrance of my mind. 

beautiful mugwort
There were two unexplained attacks in "Li Sao" against mugwort—which I've enjoyed eating in honey and drying and smoking—that seemed funny to me, including:

Why have all the fragrant flowers of days gone by 
Now all transformed themselves into worthless mugwort?

Raking Leaves (2019) by Joseph Grantham. Concise, playful poems with interesting non sequiturs and a focus on people and daily life. "Pharmacy Poem #7": 

it's hard to write a poem
at the pharmacy
the pharmacist is behind me
and he puts medicines
on the counter
and he can see
over my shoulder

After Denver (2020) by Big Bruiser Dope Boy. I blurbed this: "I highly enjoyed After Denver, a moving and intriguing book about mystery, secrets, writing, and people that made me laugh and think." I nominated this and Vagablonde and Mountain Road, Late At Night for the Rathbones Folio Prize, who emailed me in September asking me to nominate three books.

The Sky Contains the Plans (2020) by Matthew Rohrer. The twelfth book, counting "from The Ideograms," that I've read by Matthew, who got the first lines for each of the 100 poems in it while falling asleep. Read an interview about this here.

Black Glitter (2018) by Bree Jo'ann. Emotional, readable poems with many declarative sentences. Favorite lines: "Poor social skills made me bad at art school." "Loneliness becomes a stagnant legend." "Others are giddy, but I am scientific."

Chainsaw Poems and Other Poems (2020) by Giacomo Pope. Off-kilter, mostly short poems with a focus on chainsaws and emotions. Favorite titles of poems in here include "Feelings of Alienation After the New Year" and "I Am Going to be Incredibly Famous." Enjoyed this poem titled Haiku:

Near the window
a light flashes
and I am very sad

50 Barn Poems (2019) by Zac Smith. I emailed Zac: "I like the strategy of showing someone's verbal reactions to an undescribed scene, making me imagine the scene, and of writing the poem in seemingly real time and having that be the poem, like in the first 3 lines of 18." The first three lines: "barn full of gold bars / why not? // fuck it." Another example of what I described is in Barn Poem 8:

tornado boy's coming 
touch down! touch down!

oh shit oh no
there goes the barn!

look at that
that's insane

holy shit
holy fucking shit 


The Big Bang Never Happened (1991) by Eric J. Lerner. This is the other book I read twice this year. I wrote about it here and reference it in Leave Society. I'll be absorbing this book for many years.

The Twenty-Four Hour Mind (2010) by Rosalind Cartwright. Informative, helpful, optimistic book arguing that sleep is "a built-in physician" and that dreams are "an internal psychotherapist." Cartwright has researched sleep and dreams since the sixties. I reference this in Leave Society. I read it in 2015 and again in January 2020, but I didn't realize I'd already read it in 2015 until months after rereading it, while reading a list of things I'd read in 2015, which to me shows how weak memory can be.

Slugs and Snails (2016) by Robert Cameron.

Sun and Steel (1968) by Yukio Mishima. Jordan Castro recommended this to me. I enjoyed it. It's my first Mishima. He writes about how many intellectuals seem to ignore their bodies. Favorite sentence: 

It is a rather risky matter to discuss a happiness that has no need of words.

The Civilization of the Goddess (1991) by Marija Gimbutas. I reference Gimbutas' work in Leave Society. She was an archaeologist and professor at Harvard and UCLA who argued that, in the earliest human religion, going back before Homo sapiens to the Acheulean culture of Homo erectus, people worshipped nature in the form of a supreme female deity, which she called the Goddess. “It is a gross misunderstanding to imagine warfare as endemic to the human condition," she wrote in The Civilization of the Goddess, whose title refers to Old Europe—a culture, existing in southeast Europe from 8,500 to 5,500 years ago, that she uncovered and, in 1968, named.

Hawaiian Reptiles and Amphibians (1978) by Sean McKeown.

Dreamland (2019) by Bob Lazar. Lazar writes about being hired by a secret government program to reverse-engineer alien technology. Dreamland seemed highly believable to me due to the complexity of Lazar's psychology and the seeming lack of agenda except to share what happened to him. His experience aligns with other books I read in 2020 on aliens, secret programs, and UFOs—books mentioned later in this post.

The Hutchison File (1996) by The Planetary Association For Clean Energy. A brief book collecting writings on and by John Hutchison, the electromagnetic radiation expert who discovered the Hutchison Effect. Available as PDF here. Mainstream sources, like Wikipedia, view Hutchison as a fraud, which to me and many other people seems inaccurate. I first heard of him from Judy Wood, author of Where Did the Towers Go? (2010), which I wrote about here. Here is an excerpt of Leave Society that references Hutchison:

Starlight, Starbright: Are Stars Conscious? (2015) by Greg Matloff and C Bangs. This was informative—the sun is around halfway through its life expectancy of 10 billion years; the sun and most nearby stars "circle the galaxy's center at about 220 kilometers per second and require about 225 million years to complete one galactic revolution—but it was informed by the mainstream view of the sun as a thermonuclear fusion reactor. According to Electric Universe theory, which I encountered this year and now seems more compelling to me, the sun is "fundamentally electric in nature." 

Why We Sleep (2017) by Matthew Walker. Empowering and compelling book on the importance of sleep. People are sleeping less now than ever, and it's making them function much less well, leading to car accidents, ruined relationships, surgical mistakes, errors generally in life, and other undesirable outcomes. Get this info in podcast form here.

Atom, Man, and the Universe (1969) by Hannes Alfvén. Alfvén is referenced in The Big Bang Never Happened as the most known proponent of "plasma cosmology," also known as Electric Universe theory, which says that the Big Bang theory is wrong, dark matter and dark energy can't be found because they don't exist, black holes also don't exist, and the structure of the universe is mostly determined not by gravity but by electromagnetic forces, which mainstream cosmologists have so far ignored and/or not looked into. This book isn't about that. It's about, among other things, emergence—how, for example, in atoms and other multipart objects, "A combination of simple component parts has produced a new part with innumerable new properties."

Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai (2014) by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. This was zany sometimes due to how extreme samurai seemed to have been in terms of their view of their jobs—working for their bosses or "lords"—and their view of death. An example of this zaniness is a part that discusses how five samurai were ordered to kill themselves due to disobedience. An elder of the clan told the lord, "Please pardon these men," which angered the lord, who asked why he should pardon the men. The elder replied, "There is no reason." The lord "chided him for insolently making such a request for 'no reason,'" and the elder retreated. The elder then repeated the process six times. Finally, the lord said, "With no plausible reason, you insist on making this supplication seven times. Because of your persistence, I somehow feel obliged to grant your request." The author of Hagakure, a samurai born in 1659, wrote, "I have witnessed many such incidents."

The Tao of Zen (1994) by Ray Grigg. Alan Rossi recommended this to me after reading a tweet I made and deleted that compared Buddhism and Daoism. It's about how Zen Buddhism and Taoism seem to be the same thing, which I found convincing. Its first sentence is "Zen is Taoism disguised as Buddhism." It had this traditional Zen story in it that moved me:

A young monk who was respected and loved in the monastery died suddenly. At the funeral the roshi was crying with the other mourners. One of the disciples saw the roshi's grief and asked, "But master, why are you crying? We thought you understood?" 

"Yes, yes," said the roshi impatiently, as if his meditation were being interrupted. "I do, I do. But when else do I get a chance to cry."

Games Zen Masters Play (1976) by R.H. Blyth. This was quoted in The Tao of Zen. I liked the introduction the most, which said, "Zen teaches, not by words, but by direct pointing, by engaging us in a game or contest with ourselves in which the only answer is a new level of consciousness." The rest of the book, which was in part supposed to do what that quote said, seemed underwhelming. There were lines I liked though, like "Zen means doing ordinary things willingly and cheerfully."

The Sacred Depths of Nature (2000) by Ursula Goodenough.

Lieh-Tzu (1995) translated by Eva Wong. According to Wong, Lieh-Tzu is one of the three main Daoist texts (the other two are Zhuangzi and Daodejing). Instead of doing "a straight translation of the semantics of the text," she retold it as if Lieh-Tzu were alive and wrote in English.

$2.295 million pig-dragon
Hongshan Jade Treasures (2012) by David C. Anderson. Hongshan was the most advanced culture of the Chinese Neolithic, according to current knowledge. Archaeologist Guo Dashun, who excavated Niuheliang, the most known Hongshan site, called Hongshan “the dawn of Chinese civilization.” Hongshan existed from 6,700 to 4,900 years ago in an Arizona-sized area west of North Korea. Hongshanners lived in river valleys, grew millet, raised pigs, worshipped female deities, and carved art from nephrite jade, including owls, cicadas, silkworms, turtles, clouds, cat-headed falcons, and pig-dragons. 

David C. Anderson's book seems to be the only book in English that is entirely focused on Hongshan. David seems to know more about Hongshan jade art than anyone else. According to his book, Hongshan and other Neolithic sites get looted by grave robbers long before official excavators, like Guo Dashun, get there and find the pieces that the robbers left. The looted pieces end up in markets or on eBay for very cheap. In the official world, the looted pieces are viewed as forgeries; only the ones found by official archaeologists—the scraps left by the robbers—are viewed as real. A pig-dragon sold for $2.295 million recently, while the so-called forgeries cost only tens to hundreds of dollars. Museums don't recognize the "forgeries," and most-to-all researchers also don't acknowledge the "forgeries" (which outnumber the "real" pieces by a lot) in their study of the Hongshan.

When I ordered Hongshan Jade Treasures from David, he also sent me his autobiography, which has a chapter in which he goes to China and meets Guo Dashun, who calls the pieces that David got in markets and on eBay "fake," but didn't seem to have a convincing argument for why. I recommend watching a lecture by David on Hongshan here or reading about his book here.

Taoist Teachings: The Book Of Lieh Tzu (1912) translated by Lionel Giles. From the introduction: "Condensed into a single phrase, the injunction of Lao Tzu"—author of the Daodejing—"to mankind is, 'Follow Nature.'" From the text: 

The ancients spoke of the dead as kuei-jên (men who have returned). But if the dead are men who have returned, the living are men on a journey. Those who are on a journey and think not of returning have cut themselves off from their home.

Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami (2020) by David Karashima. Detailed, investigative book on the editors and translators and other people who helped Haruki Murakami become famous in the U.S. I read 5-7 Murakami books from ages 17-22.

Cold Times (2017) by Anita Bailey. Bailey thinks there will be a "mini ice age" soon. She recommends preparing by living between 30 degrees latitude north and 30 degrees latitude south, having 5 acres of land per person, learning to grow food and raise animals, and becoming skilled in using a gun.

Breath (2020) by James Nestor. Revelatory book on breathing. After reading Breath, I started taping my mouth shut before going to sleep—a strategy I'd previously encountered in 2017 in Breathe to Heal, which I also found revelatory. From Breath, I learned of "mewing"—a technique popularized by Mike Mew in which one pushes one's tongue on the roof of one's mouth so that the upper jaw is gradually widened to a more natural size, giving one a larger airway, among other benefits. Mike Mew's dad, John Mew, is the founder of orthotropics, an evolution-informed alternative to orthodontics in which, instead of extracting teeth and destructively prising the rest into alignment in undersized jaws, the jaw is expanded toward its undegenerate, aborignal size.

The Sirius Mystery (1998) by Robert Temple. Citing anthropological work from the 1930s to the 1960s, among other sources, Temple argues that aliens from Sirius—the brightest star from Earth—visited the Dogon tribe of Mali in West Africa 5000 years ago, and that the visit is preserved in Dogon myths. Evidence for this includes that the Dogon seem to have known that Sirius was a binary system, even though the other star is not visible to the naked eye. Temple argues that the Dogon seeded the Ancient Egyptian civilization, who, like the Dogon, believe that one goes to Sirius when one dies. In the 1998 edition of The Sirius Mystery, Temple writes that after his book was published in 1976, he was targeted by CIA, NASA, and other government agencies. An example of this:

[A NASA employee's] activities were revealed to me by Arthur [C.] Clarke who telephoned me from Sri Lanka telling me that the man, whom he did not previously know, had contacted him in order to criticize me very stridently. Arthur said he thought I ought to know this because he had the impression that the man was contacting quite a lot of other people in the same way, one of whom was Isaac Asimov (whom I knew only slightly). He believed there were half a dozen other people "of equal importance and stature" to whom this man was maligning me.

The Secret of Scent (2006) by Luca Turin.

Prehistory Decoded (2019) by Martin Sweatman. This book builds on work by various other people, including Graham Hancock, who argue that two major cataclysms 12,800 and 11,600 years ago destroyed one or more advanced civilizations. The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, which seems widely accepted by this point, resolves, among other mysteries, the extinction of thirty-some New World megafauna around 12,000 years ago, including saber-toothed tigers, giant sloths, and giant beavers—extinctions which have previously been blamed, egregiously and typically, on aborigines.

Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge (2006) by Steven Greer. Amazing book by the founder of The Disclosure Project. I wrote about this here. Sample passage:

There is so much spy-versus-spy going on within the Shadow Government, and there are so many factions, and shifting alliances: It's an extremely dynamic situation. People have a tendency to view this covert control group as monolithic and fixed, but it isn't. It's very dynamic, even fractured.

Regenerate (2020) by Sayer Ji. Informative and empowering and fascinating book on natural health by the founder of GreenMedinfo. Has interesting info on how mitochondria are overunity systems, producing more energy than they consume. Discusses evolutionary mismatch—"the collective deficiency of ancestral influences in the modern, industrialized landscape," including "reduced opportunities for privacy and solitude," "decreased tactile contact with a variety of natural vegetation," and "reduced exposure to birdsong, daylight, and phytoncides."

Ancient Aliens and JFK (2018) by Mike Bara. Bara theorizes JFK was assassinated not just because he was "about to reveal to the public that aliens were visiting the Earth," and not just because he was "trying to bypass the Federal Reserve banking system," but also—and mainly—because he'd convinced Soviet Russia to jointly go to the moon, where he anticipated, based on classified information he'd gotten from James Forrestal, finding alien technology which he could then reverse-engineer. JFK was "murdered to keep the good guys in the legitimate government from getting the same advanced and alien technology that the Deep State secret government already had," wrote Bara. This aligns with what else I've read on this topic from Greer and others.

How to Do Nothing (2019) by Jenny Odell.

Acknowledged: A Perspective on the Matters of UFOs, Aliens and Crop Circles (2019) by Andrew Johnson. This is the seventh book by Andrew Johnson that I've read. I recommend all his books. I reviewed the sixth here. In Acknowledged, Johnson shares his research on a wide range of stories relevant to the subtitle. He argues that Steven Greer is not all that he seems to be:

What a shame that so many people follow Greer and think that what he says is all true—when only some of it is, and the rest of what he says is deceptive or misleading—in a way which has been carefully planned by the very interests he is claiming to expose. That is to say, that what he says about the Military-Industrial Complex is true and what he says about contacting "good ET's" is also true. [...] However, what he (and many others) aren't telling the truth about is that some of the aliens are working with some humans to deceive us and keep us in a state of general fear and ignorance, so that they can maintain both physical and spiritual power over us. 

Schoolyard UFO Encounters: 100 True Accounts (2019) by Preston Dennett. I bought this after reading online about the 1994 UFO/alien encounter at an elementary school in Ruwa, Zimbabwe (which I've heard is covered in the documentary The Phenomenon that I haven't seen yet). Citing newspapers articles and firsthand accounts, Dennett shares 100+ stories of UFO encounters in and around schools, most of which occurred at elementary schools. 

While reading this, I realized how difficult it is for aliens to interact with humans because (1) humans seem generally terrified of aliens (2) humans are busy with their own lives (3) various parts of various militaries, as well as various governmental agencies, arrive almost immediately after any encounter, chasing away and/or attacking the aliens while also preventing civilians from interacting with, or even discussing, the aliens. Dennett theorizes this difficulty is partly why so many aliens visit schools—kids, especially young kids, are the least likely to be scared by aliens and are often instead curious and excited or at least receptive and able to have interactions. 

The Phoenix Protocol (2020) by August Dunning. A book promoting dry fasting. Discusses the Hayflick Limit ("that a normal cell can only divide 40 to 60 times"), deuterium, and muse cells.


Qualification (2019) by David Heatley. Autobiography about getting addicted to 12-step programs. I "tore through" this, and cried at one point. Heatley continually struggles with various problems, and his relationship with his wife suffers, but he reaches a better place by the end of this book.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (2020) by Adrian Tomine. Autobiography about embarrassing events in Tomine's career, written as a chronological series of short stories. 


Pets (2020) edited by Jordan Castro. I blogged about this here.


Logue [yellow] (2019) edited by David Fishkind. I have a poem in this. I think copies are available here. My favorite pieces from this include Zoe Dubno's "Gymnopédies," David Fishkind's "A note on the text," and Nicolette Polek's "Summer Notebook," which I republished here.

NOON (2020) edited by Diane Williams. I had a story in this that was an excerpt of Leave Society. My favorite piece from this was Clancy Martin's "I Feel Like My Own Life Would Be Better and All of Their Lives Would Also Be Better," about his wife and kids. 

NOON (2021) edited by Diane Williams. My favorite piece from this was a novel excerpt by Zach Davidson. Also contains excerpts of Lydia Davis' journal from March 1999 to August 2000. An excerpt of her excerpts:

To write another novel, called "The End of the Sotry." "The End of the Sotry" by Lydia Davis.


I read an above-average number of books this year, in terms of the past six years, during which I've read an average of 62 books/year—70 in 2019, 66 in 2018, 84 in 2017, 48 in 2016, 60 in 2015, 44 in 2014. The books I've read since 2014 can be viewed here

This post is ~5,600 words. The last time I wrote about all the books I read was five years ago. It was ~17,000 words and can be read here.

It seems like one can read relatively very little in one life. This makes me feel like a single person can barely figure anything out. There are probably book-writing lifeforms on other planets that live 1000 or 2000 years and can process language faster than humans and can read 200-300 books/year. 


  1. What did you think of “How to do Nothing”?

  2. thanks for enjoying/posting about the barn poems. The Town sounds interesting based on your description and what i've just read about it online elsewhere. feeling like i have possibly never read a book by an australian author somehow. interested in picking of several of the books listed here.

    have you read Tom Sawyer by Grantham? i think i prefer that one to raking leaves.

    1. You're welcome. I enjoyed posting about your poems. Am currently reading your stories. I have not read Tom Sawyer by Grantham. Thank you for mentioning it.

  3. Really enjoyed this post. Looking forward to Pure Colour, Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, Ketchup, and others. Hope some of these find publishers. Intrigued by Cold Times too. Also thank you for nominating my book for a prize.

    1. You're welcome. I enjoyed nominating. It involved just typing the name of your book, the year it was published, and the author, and pushing "send" in an email.

  4. Thanks for the kind words! About to go look for The Town, Attention Deficit Disorder and Break it Down at the library I work at :-) I like getting lots of books and vibing with them even if I don't have time to read them all lol

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for sending me your book.

  5. Thank-you for this list. I enjoyed "The Town", and stories that materialize emptiness into something threatening and encroaching. "The Town" reminded me of Hiroko Oyamada's "The Factory" and "The Hole", which also revolve around the absence of qualities normally irremovable from their objects.

  6. Congratulations Tao! Taipei is #8 on Amazon's Top Taiwan Travel Guides!

  7. Super duper list, I hope an alien approaches me. Is reading the best way to figure things out, in your opinion?

    1. I don't know if it's the best for everyone. It has seemed effective for me.

  8. This is a great list, thank you for publishing it. I just finished Mountain Road, Late at Night last night and enjoyed it very much. I wanted to read Alan Rossi's blog, but can't find it anymore - I was sure there used to be a link to it via this site. Has Alan Rossi deleted or removed it? Or am I just being stupid?

    1. You're welcome. I took off the links on this blog and put links to blogs here (Alan's is called "Vintage Internet"):

  9. I read your book Eeeee Eee Eeee in L.A. County Jail and enjoyed it. I am actually Jesus Christ's Secret Identity. Essentially I am The Clark Kent to Jesus Christ's Superman. There is just a Zionist Conspiracy out to cover up the truth because The Antichrist's Secret Identity is Jared Kushner who owns 666 5th Avenue.

    I completed My Life Goals by training to be an Arcanologist and discovering "What Women Want." It turns out it's 8 Specific Categories:


    Having Completed My Life Goals I am now just focused on becoming a Hung Magician to be able to hook up with Naturally Busty Women. I'm confident that an African Arms Dealer from Congo with ties to The Lord's Resistance Army has a Size Formula I will be able to acquire to Get Hung. I often distract people by claiming I am into Busty Models who are married with children such as Rachel Aldana and September Carrino to divert their attention from Busty Models who may still be single and available such as Luna Amor and Holly Garner.

    I had to train using The Doctor Strange Archetype to become an Arcanologist. Hopefully I will be able to convince by Old Irish Friend Martin who's from Swinford to train as Ant-Man so we can start an Avengers Team one day. I am sure that Chris Tordoff could be The Spider-Man. It's not like Martin has anything better to do as the last time I talked to him he was divorced and unemployed yet still staying at his Ex-Wife's House.

    1. Thank you for reading EEE in jail. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Yeah it was just floating around My Cell Pod. I specifically remembering enjoying the speech by The President.

    Basically what happened that wound me up in L.A. County Jail is I ended up a College Dropout because I refused to submit to Anti-Semitic Lies that The Mafia spread about My Family after my grandfather lost a lawsuit over Record Company Business and then ended up in a Holocaust after I hooked up with a lot of Busty Women. A Holocaust is when The Government tries to kill Jews for wasting their potential when they can't succeed due to Anti-Semitism which is the situation I ended up in after I dropped out of College due to PTSD and partied a lot in Europe. To survive The Holocaust I had to expose The MKULTRA Mind Control and Mockingbird Fake News Conspiracies which got me jailed twice on Two False Stalking Charges on Jewish Celebrities who were part of The Mind Control and Fake News Conspiracies. MKULTRA Mind Control uses Mind Reading Surveillance and Psychic Agents. Mockingbird Fake News used Non-Disclosure Agreements and Do Not Engage Orders. I finished up what I was doing which essentially makes my case an Amnesty International Situation as I was tortured by prolonged detainment and psych meds into making Two False Confessions. I couldn't get Fair Legal Representation because of The CIA Conspiracy to Cover-Up the truth about how The Mind Control and Fake News Programs works. All I really did was hook-up with Busty Women like Ruth Tweedale who's a Law Professor I dated on Ios, Greece and Big Busty Vanessa who's an Online Hooker but that made me unpopular with The Phillips Exeter Academy Queen Bees like Ashley Arenson and Lo Bosworth to the point I ended up Targeted by The Rockefeller Group for Genocide. I completed Survivor Training using The Star-Lord Archetype in the process so now I have the ability to fully recover from humiliation and exile on my own. All I have to do is head to Africa to train as a Xenocrosser and I will be able to find formulas to Get Hung and Muscular and make a Full Social Recovery. Xenocrossing is the acquisition of Alien Technology and also a Superpower of The Star-Lord Archetype. Then I just have to finish a Forbidden Book on My Story at The University of Cambridge in England to finish Magician Training using The Doctor Strange Archetype. I will have all that done before 2023 and be fully back in business by then.

    1. Xencross is the acquisition of Alien Technology. So Xenocrosser is a job that is about acquiring Alien Technology.

      Well I found out that if you become a Xenocrosser it's possible to get Size Formulas to Get Hung and Muscular that aren't available in America but exist in Africa. Then if one was a Skilled Enough Xenocrosser it would be possible to acquire Technology from Aliens.

      So essentially a Xenocrosser could acquire even an Alien Spaceship if he had a high enough level of ability.

  11. I really like reading your succinct, attentive descriptions of books, especially ones I've also read.

    "From what I remember, it was about a depressed woman on heroin who, after the end of a relationship, supports herself through sex work while living in an apartment she bought with inheritance money."

    "This was an intense, moving novel featuring varied and complex relationships, heavy drug-use, and extremely long text messages."

    "The narrator of Ketchup works at a restaurant/bar called Pop's that is run by Mary and her mom Vicky, who are 66 and 91. Other characters include Mack (a former Marine who talks about starting his own army) and Denny (a forty-something man who works at a gas station and has a sword collection in the trunk of his car)."

    "a woman accompanies her mom, who seems to have treated her daughter terribly in the past, to chemotherapy"

  12. Tao, I’m curious, how many hours a day do you read? I’m impressed with how many books you read. Thanks for the list!

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