As the world gets ready to celebrate the end of one of the most challenging years in recent history, I can't help but look back at the last twelve months and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the authors, poets, and writers who helped me make it through. I am hoping to leave a lot of things behind when the clock strikes midnight, but I'm going to make sure that the best pieces of advice I read in 2017 follow me into the new year.
It's no secret that 2017 was a trying year, not only for Americans, but for people around the world. Their were heartbreaking mass shootings and devastating natural disasters, deadly plane crashes, and chaotic political turmoil. When the ball drops on December 31, there won't be many people sad to say goodbye to the year that brought us Hurricane Maria, Tom Petty's death, and The Emoji Movie, but there will be plenty of readers that are grateful for the amazing books published this year that helped them understand, process, and get through it all ― myself included.
No matter what the last 12 months seemed to throw at me, there was a book there to help me face the problem. When I felt helpless and confused following the election of Donald Trump, there was a chorus of writers' voices to help guide me away from angry defeat and towards proactive resistance. When I was faced with tough relationship questions or immersed in family conflict, there were comforting stories and relatable narratives that made me feel less alone. When I felt lost in my own writing, the words of experienced authors were there to show me the way. No matter what disaster life cooked up this year, the antidote could always be found on my bookshelf.
The last 12 months may have been rough, but thanks books and their talented authors, it wasn't a complete loss. In fact, because of to the 15 best pieces of advice I read in 2017, it actually became one hell of an inspiring year.
“There is no good answer to how to be a woman; the art may instead lie in how we refuse the question.”
― Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions
"to hate / is an easy lazy thing / but to love / takes strength / everyone has / but not all are willing to practice"
― Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers
" [...] If the problem is fear, the answer is knowledge."
"There is no cowardice in removing yourself from a wildly unhealthy and unwinnable situation [...] you don't owe anyone anything. You don't have to be available to everyone. You can stop."
― Scaachi Koul, One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
“Art is not a horse race. Literature is not the Olympics. The hell with The Great American Novel. We have all the great novels we need right now—and right now some man or woman is writing a new one we won’t know we needed till we read it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters
"Whether artists address inequalities in the cities or even dare to take the trains towards the land of strip malls, churches, and box stores, their work must reject the kneejerk reaction to reject other voices ― and instead take into account the serious complexities of what makes people who they are."
― Nato Thompson, What We Do Now
"Sometimes, saying what others are afraid or unwilling to say is just being an asshole. We are all free to be assholes, but we are not free to do so without consequence."
― Roxane Gay, Hunger
“‘Everybody doesn’t get everything.’ It sounded depressing to me at the time, a statement of defeat. Now admitting it seems like the obvious and essential work of growing up. Everybody doesn’t get everything: as natural and unavoidable as mortality.”
― Ariel Levy, The Rules Do Not Apply
"Writing is the witness to myself about myself. Whatever others say of me or how they interpret me is a simulacrum of their own devising."
― Amy Tan, Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
― Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
"Part of what you have to figure out in this life is, Who would I be if I hadn’t been frightened?"
― Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy
"That so many of us are so unhappy demonstrates not an individual failure to seek pleasure but a political failure to insist that the ability to pursue happiness — to be stable enough to seek out new experiences, to learn, to evolve, to take a break, to relish the many pleasures that modern life offers — is a fundamental right and a bedrock feminist cause."
― Jill Filipovic, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness
"Systemic racism isn’t something you can opt out of; it’s only something you can consciously resist."
― Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America
“There’s strength in observing one’s miniaturization. That you are insignificant and prone to, and God knows, dumb about a lot. Because doesn’t smallness prime us to eventually take up space? For instance, the momentum gained from reading a great book. After after, sitting, sleeping, living in its consequence. A book that makes you feel, finally, latched on.”
― Durga Chew-Bose, Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays
“What needs to be reinforced is the idea that good writing - solid, honest, entertaining, beautiful good writing - is simultaneously the reward, the challenge, and the goal.”
― Tom Bissell, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation