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  • Writer's pictureEmily

A ways-back list: 2001

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Earlier this year it hit me that this is a double-anniversary for me: 25 years since I graduated high school and twenty years since I graduated from college. It feels momentous and a bit solemn whenever I think about it, like I should get a new journal and reflect on my life, etc, but we're in our second plague year and I just moved, so I'm all out of head space.

Of course, next month is twenty years since the September 11th attacks, a day when all of us who were old enough will think back to where we were that day when we heard the news, what it felt like to try to get through the day, how incongruously lovely the weather was when we staggered out to our cars to go home. (I was in my first grown-up job in a school, which was a complete disaster for lots of reasons. The thing that I always remember about that day is trying desperately to figure out what was going on in between classes with dial-up internet.)

For me, 9/11 will always be linked with the year that I graduated college and moved away for the first time. I was trying to learn how to be an adult. I think about the summer before it happened, how excited I was to set up my first apartment, the beginning of the school year, and then that awful day. The rest of the year was mostly awful and confusing, although a couple of good things happened.

Anyway, it was a big year for me, and the worst year of my life so far. I was miserable.

So why do a ways-back list? I was poking around in my TBR on Goodreads months ago and kept noticing things from 2000 and 2001 that I didn't read or wasn't even aware of at the time. I was mostly reading classics at the time, and I read Lord of the Rings for the first time so I could read it before watching the movie. Now there are these books from this Time Before. Both before the attacks that seemed to change everything, and before my terrible year of failing to be a grown up and having to move back to my parents. I've been following Instagram accounts Nineties Anxiety and then 2000s Anxiety, and those pictures really take me back. I want to read some books from that time. From Before. Here's what I've got.

Books I want to read:

Atonement, Ian McEwan. I've seen the movie and I've picked it up at the library or bookstore several times, but I know it's sad. I still want to read it.

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett. I started this as an audiobook once and got tired of it, but I want to try it again in print. I loved The Dutch House and want to read more.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel. I remember when this book came out, and it was the big deal. It just didn't appeal to me at all, but now I want to read it. So many people think it's great that I have to try it.

The Shadow of the Wind (the Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1), Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Since this isn't American and is set in the aftermath of WWII, I doubt I'll feel nostalgic over it, but it sounds good.

The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. I've never read any Franzen; I guess I really need to one day. This one's supposed to be good.

Empire Falls, Richard Russo. This one won a Pulitzer. I doubt I've read more than 2 or 3 Pulitzer winners that have come out in my lifetime. This one sounds good, and I remember the cover from way back when.

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks. I actually have a paperback on my shelves. This was in every bookstore for years. It's set during a plague time, so I might wait (months? years?) until our current plague is over.

Maybe someday:

The Other Boleyn Girl, Phillippa Gregory. I remember how popular this was.

John Adams, David McCullough. Biographies are a good way to learn some history.

Mystic River, Dennis LeHane. I don't read alot of crime, but I've always heard of this one.

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1), Jasper Fforde. This seems to be a love it or hate it book, so I don't know.

Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich. I remember when this was new, and I flipped through it just to look a couple of times. It's maddening that, twenty years later, everything is probably worse.

Books I've read that were published in 2001:

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Sackhouse #1), Charlaine Harris

Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

Jemima J, Jane Green (I've seen differing dates for this, but this is about the time I'd've read it)

I think that I might read Nickel and Dimed and Empire Falls, a "blue-collar" book about "abanonded mills", together. They sound enraging but I'm already pretty radicalized. I've been watching The Connors- last season, when Becky and Darlene have to go to work at the same crummy factory jobs that their mother and aunt worked at so many years ago. Wow, nothing has changed except having to take off shoes at the airport.

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