Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Naomi's 2018 Reading List

Second year in a row doing this summary of the books I read in the past year. In 2018, I read upwards of 120 books--this isn't all of them but it is a lot of them. 

Favorite Book of 2018
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This was so many people's favorite book of 2018 and with good reason! Michelle Obama is our Forever FLOTUS and her memoir is equal parts sweet, poignant, funny, and incisive. 

Second Favorite Book of 2018
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
It's funny to me to have my top two favorite books of 2018 to be memoirs but this was another really excellent one--a vulnerable and raw account of a life living with addiction and then the never-ending journey of recovery.

Other Favorites I Read This Year
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Tempests & Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Well, That Escalated Quickly by Franchesca Ramsey
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
Make Trouble by Cecile Richards

Best Book I Listened To On Audiobook
The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis (This was a truly fascinating memoir anyway but most definitely listen to it on audio--Jenifer Lewis is such an amazing performer and storyteller! I listen to a LOT of audiobooks but this is one that I truly believe must be better in audiobook form.)

Favorite Book That Was Basically A Rom-Com in Book Form
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Favorite Intergenerational Novel
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (As I mentioned last year, I LOVE stories that span generations, so this exquisitely written story that won many awards in 2017 was a real hit with me.)

Favorite Collection of Poetry I Read
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Other Poetry I Read This Year That Was Also Excellent
A Place Called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom
Hard Times Require Furious Dancing by Alice Walker
Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni

Favorite Essay Collection
Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

Other Essay Collections That Are Also Great
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
Meaty by Samantha Irby
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Favorite Graphic Novels I Read This Year
Marbles by Ellen Forney
Tomboy by Liz Prince
Chronicles of Jerusalem by Guy Delisle (I learned a LOT about the occupation of Palestine from this one.)
Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans by Roland Owen Laird, Jr.
Aya: Life in Yop City & Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet (this is one of the few fiction graphic novels I've read--I tend to stay in the memoir/historical, but this series was super fun!)

These Graphic Novels I Read This Year Were Only OK
Poppies of Iraq by Briggite Findakly
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden (I really enjoy reading nonfiction graphic novels about different countries--this one was from a journalistic perspective and while parts of it were interesting, it got a little too deep into the 
Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrew (I follow this artist on instagram and I have always enjoyed her posts, however I think her art is geared to be consumed in smaller segments at a time, so I didn't enjoy this collection as much.)
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (probably not really fair for me to say this was "only OK" since it was a middle grade readers book--it was cute but not my fav.)

More From Rebecca Solnit Focusing on Hope
Call Them By Their True Names & A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit (One of my favorite books I read in 2017 was Rebecca Solnit's Hope In The Dark, and I really appreciate how Solnit works hard to be realistic but also not give in to panic--making the argument in both of these that hope is an essential component of our work for a more just world.)

Books About Body Positivity
Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons
The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor (I can't recommend this one highly enough--all about taking ownership and pleasure in our own bodies and undoing the endless socialization of fat-shaming culture.)

When You Are In The Sexual Violence Field, You Read A Lot About Sexual Violence, So Here Are Some I Read This Year
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson (The novel was originally published in 1999 and then a graphic novel was published in 2018--having read both, there are advantages and disadvantages to both forms--since so much of the story focuses on the character's art, it was really cool to see it visualized in the graphic novel.)
Becoming Unbecoming by Una
Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (Ed.)
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
I Still Believe Anita Hill by Amy Richards (Ed.)
The Round House by Louise Erdrich

A Self-Help Book I Liked
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

I Read This Because I Am A Social Worker And Jane Addams Is Considered The Mother Of Social Work And This Book Was Informative But Very Dry So It Took Practically All Year To Finish
Twenty Years at Hull House by Jane Addams

2018 Was The 50th Anniversary of The Assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So I Read These
The Mountaintop by Katori Hall
April 4, 1968 by Michael Eric Dyson

I Loved Learning More About Coretta Scott King's Story Not Just In The Shadow Of Her Rightfully Famous Husband 
My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

A Treatise For Gun Control
Enough by Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly

A Long History of Class in the U.S. and How Poor White People Have Demonized People of Color Instead of Rich White People
White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

A Book About U.S./Cuba Relations From The Perspective Of A Former Diplomat in Cuba
Our Woman in Havana by Vicki Huddleston (This was interesting but definitely a narrow point of view. Also not sure if it was just the e-book edition I got from the library or what, but it had a weird amount of typos in it.)

A Really Fascinating Look Into Apartheid in South Africa From The Perspective of a Biracial Person Who At The Time of His Birth Was "Born A Crime"
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Famous Books I Finally Got Around To Reading
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

A Heart-Wrenching, Chilling (Fictional) Account of a Family Weathering Hurricane Katrina
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Another Beautifully Written, But Painful Story
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Books I Read Because There Was A Movie or TV Show Based On Them That I Liked
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
To All The Boys I've Loved Before & P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Books About Grief
Option B By Sheryl Sandberg (I know how problematic she can be in her involvement with Facebook & her "lean in" philosophy, but this book focused on the journey through grief in a very compelling way and I really liked it.)
Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer
I'm Just A Person by Tig Notaro (This is a memoir so it isn't strictly only about grief but it is a big part of Tig's story and I think she works through it in a very interesting and funny way.)

Books About Church and Faith and Spirituality
Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice by Brené Brown
Everything Happens For a Reason & Other Lives I've Loved by Kate Bowler
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Interesting & Well-Written Books About Race
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie
When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith

Badass Books About Feminism By Badass Black Women
Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Stories Centering Women
Halsey Street by Naima Coster
Waiting to Exhale & Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck
Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Bloodhound & Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
Postcards From the Edge & The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher
The Women of the Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory
Crumbs From the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage

Two Books About Young Women Exploring Europe That Take Place Almost A Century Apart
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Skinner
I See London, I See France by Sarah Mylnowski

The Second Half Of The Epic Novel About World War II That I Listened To On Audiobook
War & Remembrance by Herman Wouk

Historical YA Novels (I really loved this series when I was a preteen but hadn't read any of the ones released post-2003ish, so every now and then I will read one of these. It's a snapshot into history in a very accessible way.)
Dear America: The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson (About the internment of Japanese people in the U.S. during WWII.)
Dear America: Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry (About the 1918 flu pandemic.)
Dear America: With the Might of Angels by Andrea Davis Pinkney (About integration of the public schools post Brown v. Board.)

YA Novel About A Trans Girl
George by Alex Gino

A Very Weird YA Fantasy Novel Based On Folk Tales
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I Thought This Murder Mystery Was Only OK
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

But This One Was Really Captivating
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I Like To Get Festive In My Book Choices At That Time Of Year
The 12 Daves of Christmas by K.L. Brady
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor

I Wanted To Like These Books More Than I Really Did
The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Woman Hollering Creek & Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros

Last and MOST DEFINITELY least:
Least Favorite Book of 2018
Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory
This is one of my least favorite books I've ever read. I don't particularly have a good reason for finishing it except I am weirdly stubborn about finishing things once I've started them and I love this author. The main character is terrible and this book is all about how far she will go to gain power, including quite a bit of incest and.... no thanks.