This week marks a momentous moment in the journey of my year. This week I began Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. This book is the 100th book that I’ve read in 2014. Yes, I am a word nerd. Yes, there are disclaimers to this measurement. I will list them now:
First, I have “read” more than 100 books since January 1st, 2014. But I consider these 100 to be “pleasure reading” rather than reading for work, albeit those lines blur more than Robin Thicke blurs grammatical rules. Secondly, I count audiobooks as Reading. If you have a problem with that we can deal with you later.
From this centipedial composite of stories, I have picked what I consider to be the Top Ten Dirtiest Books. In no particular order, I will list them now…
Darcy’s top ten dirty books from her first 100 books of 2014:
10. The Poisonwood Bible. Barbara Kingsolver
9. The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee
8. Lean in. Sheryl Sandburg
7. Room. Emma Donoghue
6. What Maisie Knew. Henry James.
5. The Help. Kathryn Stockett
4. Hyperbole and a Half. Allie Brosh
3. Summer House with Swimming Pool. Herman Koch
2. Notes of a Native Son. James Baldwin
1. Fun Home. Alison Bechdel
By dirty books I mean books that, in one way or another, bring me back to my originary and beloved definition of the difference between “soil” and “dirt.” Soil is when it’s outside, dirt is when it’s inside.
These Dirty Books deal with the beauty, paradoxes and traumas (mostly traumas) that result from bringing something (or someone) from the periphery to the center.
For The Help it is that famous special pie. That pie that shouldna never ever been put in one’s mouth. That pie of protest and revenge for being told ‘You don’t belong inside. You are dirty.’ Or for The Emperor of All Maladies, it is writing the biography of the thing, the terrible awful, of when bodies go rogue and make inside what Should Not Be.
Lean In tells women to Be The Dirt, put yourself at the center of the boardroom where you’ve been told you don’t belong. Sure, there might be consequences, but you can negotiate your way out of being untouchable. Just make sure you have a supportive partner, and have a career in corporate America—not on the bottom two thirds of the employment ladder…. Notes of A Native Son would put Lean In on the same shelf with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I think I would literally do that had I not borrowed Lean In from the library…..
The Poisonwood Bible has the dirt of the destructive and abusive colonial projects, and those sins of the fathers dirty a family. Fun Home gets to the core of the family dirt—when your family treats you like dirt, the thing that doesn’t belong, the thing that needs to be cleaned. What Maisie Knew shows us when a family treats a child like a dirty bomb. Hyperbole and a Half shows us treating The Self like that.
Summer House With Swimming Pool and Room are different. They tackle containment of that which threatens to return to the periphery, in one way or another, for better or worse.
Sigh. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have good ethics and avoid spoilers!?! There’s so much more to say about all of these books. Read them all! Even Lean In!
There are many “obvious” choices that I kept off the top ten list. By obvious choices, I mean books dripping with soil, like: Kimball’s The Dirty Life, Mud Season, Second Nature, Dissident Gardens,…. Or the other side of the dirty, dripping coin: Savage Love, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, My Horizontal Life, The Abstinence Teacher…..
Point is, writing that celebrates interfaces is writing I want to celebrate. Furthermore, I want to celebrate reading a crap load of awesome books.
For a complete list of what I’ve read this year, check out my board on pinterest. I won't remember unless I pin them!
I got 9/10 one of these books from my library. Support Libraries, whether they catalog seeds or books!