Friday, December 30, 2016

The Kid Becomes Laureate: Bob Dylan in 2016

On an otherwise quiet October morning in 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that Bob Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, catching much of the world by surprise. Though Dylan appeared frequently on shortlists for the award, his chances were never anything more than slim--the dream of the contrarian--and the annual disappointment over his lack of recognition always seemed to be delivered with a wistful grin by his supporters. Those who professed a deeper knowledge of the Academy's unspoken criteria pointed to other American writers--Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates--as more likely and more deserving recipients; after all, those authors were integral to understanding the modern American experience, were taught in college classes, received major awards, and wrote "serious" literature, while Dylan was little more than a folk singer--an important one, to be sure--who had aged into a strange, incoherent caricature of himself. That such a revered prize should be bestowed upon a man whose only published works were an incomprehensible and out-of-print novel, a single volume of memoir, collections of his artwork, and children's books based on his life and music, seemed downright preposterous.

On that October morning, however, the preposterous became reality.* For the first time in the 115-year history of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the award was given to someone known primarily as a songwriter rather than as a novelist, poet, dramatist, or writer of short stories. (Last year's recipient, Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus, is known for her lengthy works of oral history, another first for the Swedish Academy) What's more, Dylan became the first American in more than two decades to receive the Nobel--a gap of time that many attribute to the Swedish Academy's thinly disguised disinterest in American literature. In 2008, Horace Engdahl, then the Academy's secretary, dismissed contemporary American literature and suggested that no living author from the United States was worthy of recognition. Speaking to the Associated Press, Engdahl stated, "There is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the centre of the literary world...not the United States. The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature....That ignorance is restraining."

The response from American critics, academics, publishers, and writers to Engdahl's assertion was instantaneous. They offered to send Engdahl a list of authors whose works, they said, disproved his belief in an ignorant and self-centered trend in literature from the States. They cited the number of American books published every year, the number of translations available to American readers, and writers who already possessed wide international audiences, all to no avail. In the years that followed, it seemed as though an entire generation of American writers would never see another one of their own honored.

Those who extolled the virtues of American literature, especially in the wake of Engdahl's public comments, advocated for a small but important selection of writers as worthy laureates--DeLillo, Roth, Oates among them--and justified such a list by noting how the work of each embodied not only the virtues of American literature--a focus on internal struggles suddenly borne outward, the pitfalls of dreams against a disinterested reality, the shades of emptiness and regret lurking behind every painted front door--but also honest, excellent, and stylistic writing. However, if you reexamine these same writers when placed beside those who won the Nobel over the previous two decades--that is to say, since Toni Morrison received the prize in 1993--you begin to see the differences. For all the variances in style and subject, the previous 23 laureates fit a certain mold. Their work focuses on the lives of the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the forgotten. They emphasize the experiences of those who are not part of the mainstream, who are not privileged, who walk through the world as innocents rather than troubled patriarchs. They confront issues of the present--genocide, censorship, inequality, totalitarianism--directly while forcing readers to suffer under the weight of the past, often whitewashed and frequently forgotten, as though the book were stitched together from the memories of the dead. The reason why Toni Morrison won a Nobel had little to do with the beauty of her prose or the complexity of her characters, though both were--and remain--stunning. Instead, she wrote books that refused to suffer from a willed amnesia, that refused to compromise content for the sake of commerce, that placed a mirror up not only to her readers but the country in which they lived and asked everyone to take a long, deep look at the reflection. Morrison understood--and understands--that placing the past behind us gives us permission to ignore it, even as it stands waiting for us on the coming horizon.

To be more blunt, most authors will make us confront the past, but do so incrementally and always delicately, as though the truth may be too much, or their readers possess fragile minds. A great author, on the other hand, pushes us towards the mass graves, the rusted slave-shackles, the improvised monuments to those who were disappeared by their governments. Most American writers focus their stories on small moments between people--the slow dissolution of a family, the questioning of faith, the infirmities of age against the ignorances of the young--without taking those lessons and connecting each to the greater world. This is what the Swedish Academy wants: a writer whose words resonate beyond their own mind and skin. Morrison's body of work works under the belief--one of many--that we as a nation cannot claim the mantle of freedom while standing atop a mound of chains...that we as a nation are forever engaged in a struggle for our own soul, even as we convince ourselves of our own moral superiority.

This is the reason why Bob Dylan--the eccentric, incoherent American troubadour--is a much more appropriate laureate than any of the aforementioned authors. Throughout his career, Dylan's lyrics have told stories of men and women who labor under inequities that consume them; of communities devastated by the greed and avarice of those in positions of power; of systems and institutions built to preserve liberty for the few and wealthy, rather than the many and the needy; of struggles by the downtrodden to gain the rights they need and deserve; of peace in the face of war and acceptance in the face of prejudice. Reading his lyrics today, often four or five decades after they were first written, is to see stories and images that transcend the era in which they were first put to paper. The struggles that inspired Dylan to write his songs remain to this day, and while they may differ in form, they remain the same in their devastating effects.

Take, for example, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," a song from his 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin', in which Dylan recounts the story of a black woman--a mother of ten--who is killed by William Zanzinger, a white man half her age, whose wealthy parents, family connections, and status in a segregated society guarantee he will see no punishment. And, as the song reveals, he receives a six-month sentence--far from the kind of resolution promised by a court of law, though one befitting a world in which Hattie Carroll was considered unworthy of justice simply because of the color of her skin. Though we may tell ourselves that we've banished such occurrences from our world, finding evidence to the contrary is not difficult: we see judges handing down harsher verdicts and punishments in cases involving people of color, while white defendants charged with heinous crimes against those same communities are found not guilty or given lenient sentences; we see prosecutors removing men and women from juries based on their ethnicities; and we see courts allowing politicians to disenfranchise non-white voters, making it increasingly difficult for them to gain the political influence they need to advocate for their rights. Dylan's song may be old, but the injustices of which he sings are ever-present in our lives.

Or take "North Country Blues," in which he sings of a poor rural community from the point of view of a young woman who lives there. Though the mines in her small town are successful--"the red iron pits ran plenty"--the narrator loses both her father and brother in a mining accident, and she decides to leave school to marry a miner. Eventually, the mine is closed completely, and when a representative from the company comes to town to explain why, the narrator records his words:  "
They say that your ore ain't worth digging / That it's much cheaper down / In the South American town / Where the miners work for almost nothing."

In the years to come, the town empties of people, including the narrator's husband, who disappears while she sleeps; and suddenly the narrator is alone with three children to raise in a town where there is little hope. Soon, the homes bear "cardboard filled windows," the shops close up one after another, and the narrator commiserates over the knowledge that her children will one day leave, saying, "Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them."

Though this song is more than a half-century old, the scenes it depicts--of small towns dying away, of families struggling with poverty and job loss, of once prosperous industries leaving for distant countries and cheaper labor--are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago. Millions of Americans continue to struggle with such issues, especially in regions where mining once kept entire communities alive. Urban and suburban areas continue to grow while towns and villages see their populations become smaller and grayer as young people graduate and move away. Financial strains take their toll on families, often dragging households into poverty. And when those tasked with fixing such problems come to town, they make sure to walk in parades, promise to bring jobs back in exchange for a couple of votes, then disappear for two years, four years, six years...returning only to reassure those same people that, yes, those jobs will come back, you just need to wait a little longer, and make sure you vote for the right candidate in November.

Even Dylan's later work, written long after the tumultuous 1960s had faded from memory, couldn't avoid touching on the problems faced by the average American. The song "Clean Cut Kid," released on his 1985 album Empire Burlesque, tells the story of a boy whose life is affected by the world around him until he throws himself off the Golden Gate Bridge in despair. He is raised with a deep sense of community and selflessness; he joins a sports team, sings in a choir, and even becomes a Boy Scout. Along the way, however, he's taught lies--"They said what's up is down, they said what isn't is / They put ideas in his head he thought were his"--in a manner that resembles indoctrination. Soon, he is drafted by the army and sent to Vietnam--"They sent him to a napalm health spa to shape up"--where alcohol, drugs, and guns become a common part of his life. When the war ends, he returns home a changed person, and without the skills he needs to leave the war behind:  "
They gave him dope to smoke, drinks and pills / A jeep to drove, blood to spill / They said 'Congratulations, you got what it takes' / They sent him back into the rat race without any breaks .... He bought the American dream but it put him in debt / The only game he could play was Russian roulette."

The song's refrain--"He was a clean-cut kid / But they made a killer out of him / That's what they did"--is an overt condemnation of a country that would send an entire generation off to war, oversee their return with indifference and disdain, and turn a cold shoulder to the problems they faced in the years to come. Long before PTSD was understood to the degree that it is today, American families saw the effects of a long, protracted war without rules, one that was fought by kids barely of out high school, and one that most people back home never wanted to talk about, even though it lingered behind them like a cannibalistic shadow. Among the many songs of love and heartbreak on Empire Burlesque, "Clean Cut Kid" was a clear yet overlooked reminder that Dylan had not tempered his desire for social justice, even in the age of Reagan's "Morning in America." Now, as our country faces yet another wave of soldiers who have returned from war without the skills or treatment they need to fight PTSD--and a country that seems unable or unwilling to help them, even in the face of high suicide rates among soldiers--Dylan's song is just as powerful as it was thirty years ago.

Dylan, who has devoted much of his career to moving between styles and genres with little concern for the opinions of critics and fans, has often puzzled those who look at the entirety of his output and cannot find a consistent message...or who see a once great folk singer mellowing with age, his passion and outrage diluted by commercial success and a world that has moved on from the protests of the Vietnam era. But this reading of Dylan's work ignores the fact that all good artists--writers, painters, musicians--change. If Dylan wrote and sang the same way he did fifty years ago, he'd be considered a relic of sorts, a sad novelty stuck in the past. Instead, he has used the last half-century as an opportunity to follow his own interests, even if that means facing the wrath of his devoted listeners.

In confounding others, Dylan reaffirmed his status as someone who had little interest in the wants of those in power or the patterns of a successful commercial artist. He does not need to prove himself to anyone, and his decision to skip the Nobel ceremony--because of scheduling conflicts, he said--was the clearest reminder yet that Dylan does not want or need the approval of anyone other than himself. This is precisely why he won the Nobel Prize in the first place. In bestowing him with such an honor, the Swedish Academy is saying, in essence, that those looking to advocate for American literature should look beyond the "conventional" authors who are so consistently touted as worthy of a Nobel Prize. Becoming a laureate is not the mainstreaming of a folk hero; instead, it is the world acknowledging what Americans academics have so long forgotten: American literature is at its best when it's challenging the laws and habits of its forefathers, uncovering the deeper truths about American history with clear eyes, and pushing the nation's conscience toward salvation.

But perhaps this is wrong. The larger lesson may have nothing to do with the Swedish Academy's rationale. Instead, the reaction to Dylan's win may be a chance to reassess how Americans see their relationship with literature. If any of the conventional authors had won, the announcement would have been met with words of celebration--an American, finally!--and a small uptick in sales for that authors' work, but little else. Some would have raised their voices to complain about the selection's predictability, its safeness, even its outdatedness; others would have posted long explanations for the lay-reader as to why the award was deserved after all; but the large majority of Americans who read books would have simply shrugged and forgotten.

Even Cormac McCarthy, by far the most deserving of the conventional choices, would have caused people little pause. Yes, millions have read No Country for Old Men and The Road--the latter being another of Oprah's choices, and a Pulitzer Prize-winner to boot--and millions more had seen the film adaptations of both. But go deeper into the past, beyond the instant bestsellers, and read his earlier novels--Suttree, perhaps, or The Orchard Keeper, or even the masterful and biblical Blood Meridian--and they would have discovered an author whose oeuvre is much more challenging and unorthodox than expected, and they would have set him aside as they would all the others.

Dylan is the antithesis of all this. Americans know him, can recite his words from memory, can sing his songs at the simple announcement of a title. They have lived with him for decades. His music defined not only eras in people's lives but also their struggles. It's Dylan who we need to look to, not as a sort of late-in-life savior in need of a second or third act, but as someone who understands what it means to struggle, to fight for one's own survival. Dylan knows who the enemies are, even as they hide behind desks or flee from the fight, and he understands that the crumbling neighborhoods around us are not a reflection of who we are, but of those who claim to represent our interests while caring only for themselves. Dylan sings of a changing world and how beautiful it can be. But he also wants us to know that change only happens when the downtrodden and oppressed come together; and when they do, those who stand in the way of progress--those who refuse to yield to the rivers of progress--will find themselves sinking like stones.

*Perhaps my favorite example of the degree to which so-called experts failed at predicting a Dylan win comes in an article by Alex Shephard of the New Republic. Posted just days before the Swedish Academy's announcement, Shephard goes out of his way to remind his readers that "Bob Dylan 100 percent is not going to win. Stop saying Bob Dylan should win the Nobel Prize." One week later, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize.

*                                     *                                     *

Books I Read in 2016
  1. A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash (Sylvia Nasar; audiobook, abridged, narrated by Edward Hermann)
  2. Candy Bomber (Michael O. Tunnell)
  3. So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood (Patrick Modiano; Euan Cameron, translator)
  4. When the Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson (Gene Smith)
  5. The Three-Body Problem (Cixin Liu; Ken Liu, translator)
  6. Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein (Shel Silverstein)
  7. So, Anyway... (John Cleese)
  8. Salome (Oscar Wilde)
  9. Okay For Now (Gary D. Schmidt)
  10. The Protectors (Val Karlsson)
  11. Uprising (Margaret Peterson Haddix) 
  12. Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: The Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life of John Quincy Adams (Joseph Wheelan)
  13. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Douglas Adams)
  14. The Curse of Madame "C" (Gary Larson)
  15. Dead End in Norvelt (Jack Gantos)
  16. The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain (Bill Bryson)
  17. Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics (Chris Grabenstein)
  18. Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case (Chris Crowe)
  19. The Wave (Todd Strasser)
  20. *One Summer: America, 1927 (Bill Bryson; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Bill Bryson)
  21. The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
  22. Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library (Scott Sherman)
  23. The Bookshop (Penelope Fitzgerald)
  24. The Shrunken Head (Lauren Oliver, ebook)
  25. The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code (Margalit Fox)
  26. *At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Bill Bryson)
  27. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Kate DiCamillo)
  28. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (Italo Calvino; William Weaver, translator)
  29. Guantanamo Boy (Anna Perera)
  30. The Far Side Observer (Gary Larson)
  31. Begging for Change (Sharon Flake)
  32. Something Under the Bed is Drooling (Bill Watterson)
  33. Here Lies the Librarian (Richard Peck)
  34. Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War (Tony Horwitz)
  35. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
  36. A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius (Stacey Matson)
  37. One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment (Mei Fong)
  38. One Man's Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood (Julia Reed; Paul Costello, photographer; Rodney Collins, photographer)
  39. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson)
  40. The Logogryph: A Bibliography of Imaginary Books (Thomas Wharton)
  41. The Sculptor (Scott McCloud)
  42. The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (Jeffrey Toobin)
  43. Lake Wobegon Family Reunion (Garrison Keillor; audio, unabridged, narrated by Garrison Keillor, recorded live)
  44. A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World (Tony Horwitz)
  45. Champlain's Dream: the European Founding of North America (David Hackett Fischer)
  46. Bad Unicorn (Platte F. Clark)
  47. News From Lake Wobegon (Garrison Keillor; audio, unabridged, narrated by Garrison Keillor, recorded live)
  48. Veronica's Room: A Melodrama (Ira Levin)
  49. My Reading Life (Pat Conroy; audio, unabridged, narrated by Pat Conroy)
  50. Gifts (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  51. Last Chapter and Worse (Gary Larson)
  52. Phantoms on the Bookshelves (Jacques Bonnet; translated by Sian Reynolds)
  53. A Sense of the World:  How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveller (Jason Roberts)
  54. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Volume 1: Acadia, 1610-1613 (Rueben Gold Thwaites, editor)
  55. Borderlands: Unconquered (John Shirley)
  56. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
  57. Unfamiliar Fishes (Sarah Vowell)
  58. Wolf by Wolf (Ryan Graudin)
  59. 84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)
  60. Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker (Renata Adler)
  61. Confederates in the Attic:  Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Tony Horwitz, ebook)
  62. The House of Paper (Carlos Maria Dominguez; Peter Sis, illustrator; Nick Caistor, trans.)
  63. Echo (Pam Munoz Ryan)
  64. Three at Wolfe's Door (Rex Stout)
  65. The Works of Samuel de Champlain, Volume 2 (Samuel de Champlain; H.P. Biggar, editor; John Squair, translator; digital copy)
  66. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (Jon Krakauer; audio, unabridged, narrated by Jon Krakauer)
  67. Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery (Dave Roman; Jason Ho, Jen Wang, Taina Telgemeier, and Jeff Zornow, illustrators)
  68. Breakthrough! How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever (Jim Murphy)
  69. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Eric Idle)
  70. In a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Bill Bryson)
  71. Hoot (Carl Hiassen)
  72. Toxic Planet (David Ratte)
  73. Don't You Turn Back: Poems by Langston Hughes (Langston Hughes; Lee Bennett Hopkins, editor; Ann Grifalconi, illustrator)
  74. Yukon Ho! (Bill Watterson)
  75. Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud (Shaun Considine)
  76. Everything, Everything (Nicola Yoon)
  77. The Works of Samuel de Champlain, Volume 3 (Samuel de Champlain; H.P. Biggar, editor; H.H. Langton, translator/editor; W.F. Ganong, translator/editor; digital copy)
  78. *In a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson)
  79. The Hudson's Bay Company (George Woodcock)
  80. *A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson; audiobook, abridged, narrated by Bill Bryson)
  81. The Comedians:  Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy (Kliph Nesteroff)
  82. Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul (James McBride; ebook)
  83. The Rape of Nanking (Iris Change)
  84. *A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson; audiobook, abridged, narrated by Bill Bryson)
  85. Joe Gould's Teeth (Jill Lepore)
  86. The Codex Canadensis and the Writings of Louis Nicolas:  the Natural History of the New World, Histoire Naturelle Des Indes Occidentales (Louis Nicholas; Francois-Marc Gagnon, editor and introduction; Nancy Senior, translator; Real Ouellet, modernization)
  87. *Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From an Addiction to Film (Patton Oswalt; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Patton Oswalt)
  88. The Nazi Hunters (Andrew Nagorski)
  89. *Mornings on Horseback: the Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt (David McCullough; audiobook, abridged, narrated by Edward Herrmann) 
  90. Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths (Ryan Britt)
  91. Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman (Lindy West)
  92. Missionary Labors of Fathers Marquette, Menard and Allouez, in the Lake Superior Region (Chrysostom Verwyst; PDF)
  93. But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past (Chuck Klosterman)
  94. Hudson's Bay Company, 1670-1870: Volume 1, 1670-1763 (E.E. Rich)
  95. *Zealot:  The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Reza Aslan; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Reza Aslan)
  96. Citizen: An American Lyric (Claudia Rankine, ebook)
  97. A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846 (Paul Hackett)
  98. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Ann Patchett; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Ann Patchett)
  99. On Trails: An Exploration (Robert Moor)
  100. There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say (Paula Poundstone; audiobook, abridged, narrated by Paula Poundstone)
  101. The Voyageur's Highway: Minnesota's Border Lake Land (Grace Lee Nute)
  102. History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan (Andrew J. Blackbird, digital)
  103. JR (William Gaddis)
  104. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Jeffrey Toobin)
  105. 1776 (David McCullough)
  106. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (David Rakoff, ebook)
  107. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (David Rakoff; audiobook, unabridged, narrated by David Rakoff)
  108. The Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Regions of the Great Lakes, Volume 1 (Nicolas Perrot, Bacqueville de la Potherie, Morrell Marston, and Thomas Forsyth; Emma Helen Blair, translator/editor/annotator; digital copy)
  109. The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk (Jennifer Niven)
  110. All the President's Men (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein)
  111. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (Simon Winchester)
  112. The Library at Mount Char (Scott Hawkins)
  113. First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson (Simon Schwartz)
  114. Love and Ruin: Tales of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from The Atavist Magazine (Evan Ratliff, editor)
  115. The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party (Daniel James Brown, ebook)
  116. The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris)
  117. The Last Tycoon: An Unfinished Novel (F. Scott Fitzgerald; Edmund Wilson, editor)
  118. Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room (Geoff Dyer)
  119. Challenger Deep (Neal Shusterman; Brendan Shusterman, illustrator)
  120. The Right Stuff (Tom Wolfe)
  121. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club (Phillip Hoose)
  122. The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics, Young Reader's Edition (Daniel James Brown; Gregory Mone, adaptor)
  123. Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (Jon Meacham)
  124. The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue, Young Reader's Edition (Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman)
  125. Tracker (Gary Paulsen)
  126. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (Atul Gawande)
  127. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
  128. You Are Here: Around the World In 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station (Chris Hadfield)
  129. Rise of the Wolf (Curtis Jobling)
  130. Three Black Swans (Caroline B. Cooney)
  131. In the Shadows of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives (Kenneth C. Davis)
  132. I Heart You, You Haunt Me (Lisa Schroeder)
  133. The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence (Stan Lee and Stuart Moore; Andie Tong, illustrator)
  134. Ike's Bluff:  President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World (Evan Thomas)
  135. Let the People Decide (William M. Kraus)
  136. Unbought and Unbossed (Shirley Chisholm)
  137. Caesars of the Wilderness: Medard Chouart, Sieur Des Groseilliers and Pierre Esprit Radisson, 1618-1710 (Grace Lee Nute)
  138. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, and Dylan Thuras)
  139. Assassin's Creed: Last Descendants (Matthew J. Kirby)
  140. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Steve Sheinkin)
  141. "He Chews to Run": Will Rogers' Life Magazine Articles, 1928 (Will Rogers; Steven K. Graget, editor)
  142. The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country (Laton McCartney)
  143. Robert M. LaFollette and the Insurgent Spirit (David P. Thelen)
  144. Irena's Children: A True Story of Courage, Young Readers Edition (Tilar J. Mazzeo; adapted by Mary Cronk Farrell)
  145. Grendel (John Gardner)
  146. *A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
  147. The War Within These Walls (Aline Sax)
  148. The Thief of Always (Clive Barker)
  149. How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (Tonya Bolden)
  150. Ghost (Jason Reynolds)
  151. The Peace of Montreal of 1701:  French-Native Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century (Gilles Havard; Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott, translators)
  152. The Lyrics: 1961-2012 (Bob Dylan)

*Denotes a reread.