Books I Read in 2017

I finished my list!

I read 142 books in 2017, and achieved my goal of 50% books by non-white authors. Thank you, Jason Reynolds. :D

Some notes from my 50% project:

  • It’s like those studies with teachers who think the girls in their class are talking at least as much as the boys, probably more– but when you count it all up it’s more like 30 percent from the girls. Imbalance is normal in my experience, so 50/50 feels like POC authors are strongly predominant.
  • Despite all the POC stars in kidlit right now– Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Gene Luen Yang– there are strong pulls from the culture to drift towards white. The books from the library that I have to read and return because someone else requested them, the books I request because there’s buzz about them online, the classic books that characters in newer books read and refer to– turns out these are mostly by white authors.
  • I worked hard to find series by POC authors to balance out my Animorphs and Dear Canada runs. Other than manga, I came up mostly with trilogies– Sook Nyui Choi’s autobiographical novels, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before confections, and waiting-impatiently-for-book-threes from Nnedi Okorafor (Binti) and Linda Sue Park (Wing and Claw). Do POC authors have trouble getting contracts for longer series? Maybe I should poke around in mystery or romance for adults.
  • I am definitely repeating the 50% goal this year. I feel like I need it there to counter those cultural currents I mentioned above. But I hope that as I get acquainted with more POC authors and books, the network will become robust enough that I’ll feel I’m being led along from book to book.

And now, books I’m adding to my life list at librarything. It’s a little hard to explain what this list is– not necessarily the books I admire most, but the ones that if they were DNA would, in combination, come closest to coding me. (With additional conventions, like having only one book per author for the most part, even if multiple books would qualify). This year:

  • The Animorphs series by Katherine Applegate. I missed these when they came out; languageescapes sent me some for my birthday and I am wholeheartedly into it. Such whiplash between slapstick and war trauma! So many twists that make me grin too hard and say WHHAAAAT! and speculate further. And I’m only twelve books in.
  • The Year of  Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyui Choi. Includes the other two books in the trilogy, Echoes of the White Giraffe and Gathering of Pearls. I think I found these when Linda Sue Park mentioned them as the first Korean-American fiction she found to read. So wide a variety of experiences, from a terrifying border crossing to attending a women’s college in the U.S., the kind where a house mother keeps tabs on you and your dorm-mates. I read these on the front porch and on our eclipse vacation this summer and was completely absorbed.
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo. I mentioned this in my High School Romance post: K-dramas and family bonding and romance, so good!
  • Enter Title Here, by Rahul Kanakia. I thought I wrote a whole post about this, but maybe I just raved to various people. I’ll say it again: sociopaths have dreams too, you know!
  • What Did You Eat Yesterday?, a manga series by Fumi Yoshinaga. A gay lawyer cooks for his partner. Things happen in the background in their relationship and jobs and so on, but mostly it’s recipes and cooking. Satisfies my housekeeping/domesticity thing. I’m up to volume 9, I think there are at least a dozen so far.

Other highlights:

Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges
The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui
It All Comes Down to This, by Karen English
Little White Duck, by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez
Binti and Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sidney Padua
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepatys
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

And old-timey YA by Betty Cavanna! And discovering Jean Little’s Dear Canada books! And listening to Hilary McKay’s Saffy’s Angel, read by Julia Sawahla, as I watered the garden.

My complete list for the year is here.

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