Ryan Fitzpatrick and I started what we call “the 95 books challenge” a few years ago, with a goal to reading at least 95 books per year (with the larger goal to become more well-read than George W. Bush).

I beat Ryan every year until this one, when he blew me out of the water. I re/wrote two books this year, on top of more-than-full-time work, but still, a loss is a loss. Anyway, I still met the 95 goal by reading 112 books.

My reading breaks down in a few ways. I read or reread critical theory and nonfiction, self-help or writing-related books (usually because I am trying to learn something to answer questions from students, or have been sent a book to consider as a textbook: I rarely recommend these books to others, and they are mostly garbage), fiction and graphic novels and much poetry for my poetry review column in the Winnipeg Free Press. I also do a lot of reading that I don’t count, since I start and then stop a book or only read a few chapters.

If I had to recommend a handful of books here, this is how it would break down:

Theory/Non-Fiction: The Impossible David Lynch by Todd McGowan is simply the best book on David Lynch.
Self-Help/Writing: These books are mostly crap, as I say, but I was surprised by how intelligent and useful Story by Robert McKee (I book I had avoided in the past due to its reputation as a screenwriting “rulebook”) turned out to be.
Fiction: Automatic World by Struan Sinclair (obviously The Castle by Kafka is a better book, but who needs me to recommend it?)
Graphic Novels: I re-read and still love the amazing Imagination Manifesto series by GMB Chomichuk et al.
Poetry: See my 2012 best-of column.

1. What Your Body Says (Sharon Sayler)
2. The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011 (eds Priscila Uppal and Molly Peacock)
3. Carapace (Laura Lush)
4. Discovery Passages (Garry Thomas Morse)
5. Writing the Breakout Novel (Donald Maass)
6. Lyrics and Poems 1997-2012 (John K. Samson)
7. Point Omega (Don DeLillo)
8. Imagination Manifesto 1 (GMB Chomichuk et al)
9. Imagination Manifesto 2 (GMB Chomichuk et al)
10. Imagination Manifesto 3 (GMB Chomichuk et al)
11. Drift (Kevin Connolly)
12. Hordes of Writing (Chus Pato)
13. A (short) history of l. (rob mclennan)
14. Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life (Nick Mamatas)
15. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (David Eagleman)
16. Zombie Fight Night: Battles of the Dead (A. P. Fuchs)
17. The Unmemntioable (Erin Moure)
18. Story (Robert McKee)
19. Nox (Anne Carson)
20. Happyland (Kevin Connolly)
21. Killdeer (Phil Hall)
22. Testament (Dennis Lee)
23. Games of Chance (Gerald Beirne)
24. New Theatre (Susan Steudel)
25. Shoot It!: Hollywood Inc. and the Rising of Independent Film (David Spaner)
26. Plans Deranged by Time (George Fetherling, ed. A. F. Moritz)
27. Franzlations: The Imaginary Kafka Parables (Gary Barwin, Craig Conley, Hugh Thomas)
28. A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat (Arthur Rimbaud)
29. A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People (Gabe Foreman)
30. The Humbugs Diet (Robert Majzels)
31. A Woman Clothed in Words (Anne Szumigalski)
32. Divide and Rule (Walid Bitar)
33. quase flanders, quase extremadura (Andres Ajens, trans Erin Moure)
34. The 4-Hour Workweek (Timothy Ferriss)
35. The Castle (Franz Kafka)
36. K. (Roberto Calasso)
37. Paradoxides (Don McKay)
38. Roughing it in the Market: A Survival Toolkit for the Savvy Writer (Angie Gallop)
39. Confessions of a Young Novelist (Umberto Eco)
40. Assiniboia (Tim Lilburn)
41. The Least Important Man (Alex Boyd)
42. Payback (Margaret Atwood)
43. After Kafka: The Influence of Kafka’s Fiction (Shimon Sandbank)
44. House of Holes (Nicholas Baker)
45. The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry (Kathryn & Ross Petras)
46. You Exist. Details Follow. (Stuart Ross)
47. Workbook: memos & dispatches on writing (Steven Heighton)
48. Boy (Victor Enns)
49. A Dark Boat (Patrick Friesen)
50. Postmodernist Fiction (Brian McHale)
51. Doom (Natalie Zina Walschots)
52. Personals (Ian Williams)
53. In Praise of Copying (Marcus Boon)
54. How to Write Groundhog Day (Danny Rubin)
55. We, Beasts (Oana Avasilichioaei)
56. Antigonick (Sophokles trans. Anne Carson)
57. The Procrastination Equation (Piers Steel)
58. One False Move (Tim Conley)
59. Joe Hill’s The Cape (Jason Ciaramella, Zach Howard, and Nelson Daniel)
60. Derrida, An Egyptian (Peter Sloterdijk)
61. The Hard Return (Marcus McCann)
62. Gasping for Airtime (Jay Mohr)
63. Chaser (Erin Knight)
64. Ronald Reagan, My Father (Brian Joseph Davis)
65. This Way (Lise Downe)
66. Writing Picture Books (Ann Whitford Paul)
67. Grid (Brenda Schmidt)
68. Locke & Key: Clockworks (Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez)
69. The Poetry Home Repair Manual (Ted Kooser)
70. Form of Forms (Mark Goldstein)
71. Vlad (Carlos Fuentes)
72. Low Moon (Jason)
73. Fortified Castles (Ryan Fitzpatrick) – unpublished
74. Repeater (Andrew McEwan)
75. How to Write a Sentence (Stanley Fish)
76. Floating Life (Moez Surani)
77. The Art of Dramatic Writing (Lajos Egri)
78. Monstrance (Sarah Klassen)
79. Help! for Writers (Roy Peter Clark)
80. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months (John Locke)
81. Thirty Poems (Robert Walser)
82. Writing the TV Drama Series (Pamela Douglas)
83. A Theory of Parody (Linda Hutcheon)
84. Firewalk (Katherine Bitney)
85. Automatic World (Struan Sinclair)
86. 50 American Plays (Matthew Dickman and Michael Dickman)
87. Simulations (Jean Baudrillard)
88. Sonar (Kristian Enright)
89. Amphetamine Heart (Liz Worth)
90. The Willpower Instinct (Kelly McGonigal)
91. Bent at the Spine (Nicole Markotic)
92. Gethsemene Hall (David Annandale)
93. Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page (Sandra Djwa)
94. The Book of Marvels (Lorna Crozier)
95. Seen of the Crime (derek beaulieu)
96. Lazy Bastardism (Carmine Starnino)
97. Nice Weather (Frederick Seidel)
98. Letters to a Young Contrarian (Christopher Hitchens)
99. Undark (Sandy Pool)
100. Trobairitz (Catherine Owen)
101. The Archive Carpet (Michael Hetherington)
102. Guy Maddin: Interviews (ed. D. K. Holm)
103. The Fifty Year Sword (Mark Z. Danielewski)
104. Demon Theory (Stephen Graham Jones)
105. Ring (Koji Suzuki)
106. Natural Capital (Jason Heroux)
107. The Impossible David Lynch (Todd McGowan)
108. I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
109. Create Your Writer Platform (Chuck Sambuchino)
110. The Plague of Fantasies (Slavoj Zizek)
111. The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch’s Lost Highway (Slavoj Zizek)
112. Calculating God (Robert J. Sawyer)