- Paper Girls, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang (Illustrator), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Lettering): This was great, I immediately picked up the other volumes available.
- Word by Word, Kory Stamper: Have you ever wondered who writes dictionary entries? No? Read this anyway.
- What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi: Short stories where the characters from the first turn up here and there in the rest.
- The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar: I found most of the story in the last third of the book.
- The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker: Super compelling undercover sci-fi. Beautifully written.
- The Forgotten Hours, Katrin Schumann: The protagonist finds she needs to unravel a trauma from her past before she can move forward into the rest of her life.
- Hey, Kiddo, Jarret. J. Krocoszka: That feeling when you are suddenly reading something that’s set where & when you grew up. Lovely illustrations & collages.
- Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich: Unspecified apocalyptic disaster. Echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale so brace yourself.
- Snap, Belinda Bauer: Character-driven with a dash of police procedural.
First of all, here’s what I read in December:
- Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
- Educated, Tara Westover
- Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Amy Stewart
- A Judgment in Stone, Ruth Rendell
- Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese
- Man Eaters #1, Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, & Lia Miternique (Illustrators)
- Spoonbenders, Gregory Daryl
- The Radius of Us, Marie Marquardt
- Monstress, Vol. 1, Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Artist), Rus Wooton (Letterer, Designer), Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator),
- Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
This year I read 101 books, slightly up from the 97 I read last year. That count includes the 6 I didn’t finish, which I’ll omit from here. Of the 95 that I finished, all but 3 were ebooks, and 57 of them came from DCPL’s ebook holdings.
As ever, I remain much more of a fiction reader, but I read 16 works of nonfiction this year. My favorite was Educated, by Tara Westover. Brutal at times, but it showed me a very different perspective, and I found it to be quite thought-provoking. In retrospect, it would have made a great book club pick.
One of my goals for 2018 was to read more new releases, which I defined as within 3 months of release. I read 8 that counted for that goal, and another 10 that were published in 2018. This was a really fun goal that I plan to stick with – of the 18, I managed to get 11 of them from the library. The best trick I figured out is that if you recommend the book, you’re automatically put on the hold list if the book is acquired. The most fun part of this goal was starting Tana French’s latest, The Witch Elm, within a few days of release.
I read 7 books for bookclub this year; the best of them was Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.
After suffering through Islands in the Stream (go figure, a Hemingway novel about men drinking & fishing) I gave up on the Read Harder Challenge. I was spending a lot of time trying to identify books to read for each category, and I got tired of it. I read 13 of the 24 categories, so not bad.
I have kept up with reading new releases (I count that as within three months of publication) and more recently-released stuff in general, which has been really great. I also signed up for Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations service, and will get three recommendations each quarter. I got the first set recently and was pleased to see that none of them were already on my radar, and they all sounded interesting.
- When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson
- NOS4A2, Joe Hill
- The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy; Martha Wells
- Redshirts, John Scalzi
- The Library Book, Susan Orlean (new releases)
- Why New Orleans Matters, Tom Piazza
- Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemingway (A book published posthumously)
- The Witch Elm, Tana French (new releases)
- The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner
- The Incendiaries, R.O. Kwon (new releases)
- The House of Impossible Beauties, Joseph Cassara
Sometimes I wonder why I still have a blog. Anyway, still working on the Read Harder Challenge and also trying to get to more new releases more quickly. I’m aiming for about 3 months after publication, and while I haven’t quite made my self-imposed limit I have read a few things within a few months of publication, which is unusual for me.
Also, guess which month I didn’t travel.
- Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
- The Power, Naomi Alderman (A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author)
- The Dry (Aaron Falk #1), Jane Harper
- Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente (new release)
- Unseen City, Nathanael Johnson (A book about nature)
- Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew Johnson
- The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
- The Unquiet Dead, (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattack #1), Ausma Zehanat Khan (A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author)
- This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jenkins (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Pretty Mess, Erika Jayne
- Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann (A book of true crime)
- Shoal of Time, Gavan Daws (unfinished)
- Lumberjanes, Vol. 5, Noelle Stevenson & Brooke Allen (illustrator)
- Lumberjanes, Vol. 6, Shannon Waters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch (illustrator)
- Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1), Octavia E. Butler
- Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2), Octavia E. Butler
- Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
- Fever Dream, Samanta Shcweblin (A one-sitting book)
- My Real Children, Jo Walton (A book with a female protagonist over 60)
- The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch
- Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz
- The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2), Katherine Arden (A book set in or about a BRICS country)
- Tangerine, Christine Mangan (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2), Jane Harper
- Bizarre Romance, Audrey Niffenegger & Eddie Campbell (illustrator) (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
- Be Amazing or Go Home, Shep Hyken
- The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon
- Among Others, Jo Walton
- The Leavers, Lisa Ko
- Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1), Kate Atkinson
- Human Acts, Han Kang
I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, as well as trying to read more new releases. I’ll indicate the category (or publication date) in parentheses.
Once again, a lot of random library holds came in all at once.
- The Maze at Windermere, Gregory Blake Smith (January 2018)
- A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby
- Uprooted, Naomi Novik
- The Wanderers, Meg Howry
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon
- The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden
- Super Extra Grande, Yoss (A book of genre fiction in translation)
- Schroder, Amity Gage
- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (An Oprah Book Club selection)
- Yes Please, Amy Poehler (A celebrity memoir)
- Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (A classic of genre fiction)
- The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, and will indicate the categories in parentheses. I’m also trying to read more new releases – hoping for about one a month – rather than forever being the voracious reader who hasn’t read, say, Lincoln in the Bardo or The Underground Railroad yet.
That said, I’ve had a run on library holds coming in over the last few weeks, so it’s been tough to work on the Read Harder books and new releases.
- Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit
- Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (a comic written & illustrated by the same person)
- The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
- A Separation, Katie Kitamura
- The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vol. 1, Nicole Dieker
- Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
- The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth Mckenzie
- Elmet, Fiona Mosley (December 2017)
- The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro
- The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 6: Who Run the World? Squirrels, Ryan North and Erica Henderson (illustrator)
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Vol. 2, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse, Rich Buckler, Brian Stelfreeze (illustrators)
- Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Michael Dietsch
- Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
- The Strange Bird: A Borne Story, Jeff VanderMeer
- Borne, Jeff VanderMeer
Lots of good stuff in the last couple of months. Of particular note: Borne and The Stone Sky, if you like sci-fi (the latter is the third in a trilogy); A Separation; and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
I read, or attempted, 97 books this year. Subtracting the 6 I didn’t finish, that’s about a book and 3/4 a week, though of course it’s not evenly distributed in reality. This is 30 more books than last year. About a third of the increase can be chalked up to reading more volumes of comics, but the rest I think can be put down to a combination of long flights, trips to see family where I wind up reading a lot, and a concerted effort to get off the internet on evenings when I find myself refreshing Facebook and Twitter so much they have no new content for me.
37(!) books got five-star reviews this year, which has got to be a record for me. Ten were comics (mostly Squirrel Girl and Lumberjanes). Of the rest, I’d most recommend Every Anxious Wave, Mo Daviau; The Color Purple, Alice Walker; and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu.
In 2017, I participated in the Read Harder Challenge, which was a great way of finding new things to read. There were two categories I didn’t manage to find something for – a book published by a micropress and a book of translated poetry on a theme other than love. I found that the best way to make sure I was reading books that fit the challenge was to spend some time every couple of months identifying books that fit different themes, and queueing them up at the library. (I kept track of which theme each book fit.) This way I had a pretty steady stream of books for the challenge interspersed throughout my other reading. I’m planning to participate again in 2018.
Stats (excluding unfinished books):
- 86 ebooks, 42 from DCPL
- 80 works of fiction, 10 nonfiction
- 50 books by female authors
- 14 volumes of comics
- 6 books for book club
- 6 books of short stories, including the wonderful Apocalypse Triptych
- 2 re-read books
- 1 audiobook