Friday, January 5, 2018

Naomi's 2017 Reading List

I started a new year's resolution of reading 50 books a year for the first time in 2012. The first year I actually achieved that was 2014, the first year I significantly surpassed that was 2016 (87 books) and so for 2017, I set the loftier goal of 100--I closed out 2017 having finished 138 books in total. This is the first year that I spent the entire year not in school or in full time employment, so I found myself with a bit more time to read.

I thought about doing one sentence book reviews but then I saw Roxane Gay's post about her reading list from 2017, and I liked that format better, so here we go! (138 books is a lot and several were re-reads or not really noteworthy enough so I'm not going to literally write about each one)

Favorite Book of 2017
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This book is SO GOOD. I love novels that follow many generations of families, which this is, so I was already predisposed to like this book. But it blew me away with the fascinating interwoven stories of these characters and a look at the struggles of Black families in the US as descendants of kidnapped Africans who were enslaved and also the stories and struggles of African families who are descendants from the families that weren't kidnapped and enslaved, and sometimes benefited from the transatlantic slave trade themselves. It's such an epic novel and if you are a fan of good stories and beautiful writing--highly recommend.

Second Favorite Book of 2017
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
This book was important timing. I read it in March 2017, as things were not looking too good. Originally published in 2004, it outlines reasons for hope in what often seems like a very bleak world. Solnit writes about times when organizing and campaigning and working hard for positive change actually made a difference. It helped me re-frame where we are right now in terms of social justice and remember one of the most important tools we have is the hope that things can change for the better.

Other Favorite Books
I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV & Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Crunk Feminist Collection by Brittney C. Cooper (Ed.)
Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times by Carolina De Robertis (Ed.)
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine & the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward (Ed.)

In My Continuous Quest For Self-Improvement, I Read:
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Grit by Angela Duckworth

Books I Read Before Traveling To Japan & Taiwan
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Third Son by Julie Wu
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai
Vignettes of Taiwan by (This was probably my least favorite book I read this year mostly because it was just dumb. But it was hard to find books in English about Taiwan so I finished it anyway.)
Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

Books I Read Before Traveling To Mexico City
Black Dove: Mamá, Mi'jo and Me by Ana Castillo
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

In-Depth Look At Why More Women Than Ever Are Choosing to Stay Single (And Not In A Way That Looks At That As A Bad Thing)
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

A Look At How [Traditional] Women's Labor Has Been Devalued In Capitalism But Y'all Couldn't Have Done All This Without Us
Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story About Women & Economics by Katrine Kielos

Klein Really Tears Into The Whole Idea Of Disaster Capitalism And Shock Doctrine As A Viable Economic Strategy And I Read This Right After Hurricane Harvey Hit And Got Very Angry Because You Could Already See It Happening Again
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

A Horrifying Intimate Look At The FLDS Church From A Woman Who Escaped And Helped Put Warren Jeffs In Prison
The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser

Another Book About Women In Fundamentalist Religions, But Islam This Time
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Very Well Articulated Argument For Ethics Outside Of Religious Belief Framework
Beyond Religion by Dalai Lama XIV

A Book That Made Me Really Mad Because It Is Still So Accurate And It Was Written Over 20 Years Ago
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen

I Wish Everyone Would Read This Book Because It Explains The Moral Argument For Accessible Abortion The Best I've Ever Seen
Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker

Beautiful And Powerful Poetry By Beautiful and Powerful Women of Color
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur
Salt by Nayyirah Waheed
Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed
Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Historical Fiction Based on the Plantagenet and Tudor Women (All by Philippa Gregory--I had read about half of this series before 2017 but re-read them and read the others for the first time. Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite historical fiction writers--she bases her books in historical facts and though she takes strange creative license choices sometimes, mostly I really appreciate her imagining of these moments lost to history behind the real stories of these women. And her whole approach is centering women in her stories--some more well-known than others, but all part of pivotal historical eras.) 
The White Princess
The Kingmaker's Daughter
The Lady of the Rivers
The Last Tudor
Three Sisters, Three Queens
The King's Curse (This one was my favorite of hers I read this year, maybe my favorite out of all of them. It follows the story of Margaret Pole, one of the last Plantagenets and the oldest person executed by Henry VIII in 1541, at age 67. It's a morbidly fascinating look at how insecure Henry VIII felt on the throne and how tyrannical he became--having any dissidents and practically all of his extended family executed.)

A Book I Read Because I Was Trying To Better Understand The Complicated Plantagenet Family Tree But I'm Not Sure I Do Even Though I Read This
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

A Really Long Novel About WWII That I Got In An Audible Sale But Ended Up Really Liking Though Turns Out It's Only Part 1 of 2 Books Which Irritated Me Since I Had Already Listened To It for 55 Hours And We Only Got Up To Pearl Harbor
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk

I Got Into Historical Graphic Novels
A.D.: After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
The People's History of Empire by Howard Zinn
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Deslisle
Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 by Riad Sattouf
Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985 by Riad Sattouf
Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki

YA Book That Got A Lot of Praise And It Was Well Deserved
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Enjoyable Fiction With Interesting Characters 
Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange
Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper

The Rare Case Where the Film Adaptation is Better Than the Original Novel
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
If you haven't watched the TV adaptation on OWN, do it! Such a good show with really interesting stories and characters. It was based on this book, but I think the changes they made actually really improved the story.

A Novel By An Author I Love That Was Sort Of Interesting But Also Felt A Little Too Preachy About Climate Change
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Dystopian Futuristic Novels That Eerily Predicted The Current World We Live In (That Most People Read In High School But I Didn't)
1984 by George Orwell
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Other Books I Finally Got Around To Reading (I started Maya Angelou's autobiography collection many years ago, but finally finished it in 2017.)
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
An Autobiography by Angela Davis
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

A Book That Very Accurately Describes Life as a Twenty-Something Without a Mom
Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This Book Is So Painful To Read, For All The Parts I Identified With And All The Parts I Didn't. Vulnerable, Raw, Powerful, Beautifully Written.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Powerful Feminist Essay Collections
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum
Lost in Language and Sound by Ntozake Shange

Interesting Autobiographies/Biographies on Important Women
This Child Will Be Great by Ellen Sirleaf Johnson
Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird
I, Rigoberta Menchú by Rigoberta Menchú
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston

And last but not least,
Carrie Fisher Memoirs Because I Miss Her
Wishful Drinking
The Princess Diarist