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.
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.
My list of books read in 2015, with a line or three about each. And even more briefly, here are my ten best for the year, which I added to my LibraryThing archive:
- Bright Morning, by Margery Williams Bianco. Her 1939 YA Other People’s Houses was also good.
- Kiss the Girl, by Melissa Brayden. Also enjoyed Waiting in the Wings and Just Three Words, and successfully poked the library to acquire the next one.
- Landing, by Emma Donoghue. Audiobook.
- Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight, by Janet Edwards.
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Audiobook.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. (Sadly, the sequel had only a fraction of its charm.)
- Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain, by Hilary McKay. I’ve read them all (I think), but this one was special because of the community organizing!
- Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik. Nonfiction (materials science).
- The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye.
- The Martian, by Andy Weir.
I read an interview with Meryl Streep once– I think maybe it was a Bob Greene column?– in which she said all her movies were secretly home movies. She’d watch a scene from Kramer v. Kramer and remember what her kid was up to that week, or who she’d been hanging out with, and all the things that were going on when the scene was filmed.
My book lists are like that for me. I’ll look at So You Want to Be a Wizard and remember how excited KP was to hear I was reading it, and how she visited Portland later in the year and presented me with the sequels after one of her many trips to Powell’s Books. And how Sanguinity and I went up to Olympia to dogsit for Sara and crew, and they had a copy on their shelves, so I was reading it in the backyard while Sang designated the dogs Horrible Thing One…
and Horrible Thing Two…
and gave them stern looks…
…that didn’t fool them one bit.
Or how I read Gone Crazy in Alabama in Wyoming, decompressing on a sunny morning at my friend Jenny’s house after she left for work.
Some books have webs of people associated with them– I decided to read The Martian because every single member of the Maki family liked it, and then my co-worker lent me a copy from the first meeting of her new book club, and then I gave a copy to my father-in-law that he binge-read even though he hardly ever reads fiction.
Then there are all the online discussions like the one about The Hired Girl, and audiobooks whose performances and the setting I heard them in are inextricable from the text. (Tiny Pretty Things while striding home in the dark amidst headlights and big trees and rain!)
It’s impossible to know all that’s coded into anyone’s book list but my own, but I still like reading other people’s. Here’s hoping for rich secret home movies for us all in 2016.
I just did the bulk of the work of alphabetizing and categorizing my “Books Read 2015” list. A few times I had to override my brain’s first inclination:
I listened to the audiobook version of World War Z, performed multivoice as a series of interviews. It was very hard not to categorize it as nonfiction.
Ditto for The Martian, even though I read it in print. (Haven’t seen the movie.) I’d say it was because of all the technical details, but Steven Gould’s Exo had that too, and didn’t trip the nonfiction switch.
I read Falling From Horses in print, but the first-person narration was so sure and real that my brain is convinced I heard it as an audiobook.
I expect to add at least one more book and clean it all up a bit…will post a link and my favorites in a few days!
I had a lovely holiday season with family and friends and road trips. I didn’t take many photos, but here’s one of sanguinity with her BFF Miss Piggy, on the night that thrihyrne and evannichols led us through the annual Extreme Holiday Lights display around the corner from their place:
I’ve finished pulling together the list of books I read in 2012. You can see the complete list here as a Google doc if you want.
I’ll be adding these nine to my LibraryThing collection, bringing my collection there to 90 books in all:
- Me…Jane, by Patrick O’Donnell (picture book)
- How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day, by Ann Hodgman (middle-grade memoir)
- Black Hearts, by Holly Black (YA)
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King (YA)
- Every Day, by David Levithan (YA)
- Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
- Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
- Middlemarch, by George Eliot (adult fiction)
- Adrift, by Steven Callahan (adult nonfiction)
You know, I was going to write a blurb about each one of these, but so many end-of-year book lists have gone by on my screen in the last few days that I don’t think I really need to add another. Maybe instead I’ll call out the audiobooks that got me through a lot of dishwashing: Ruby Dee reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, Natalie Moore with the perfect Wisconsin-teenager accent in Dairy Queen, and Steve Martin talking about his stand-up days in Born Standing Up.
Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a happy and fruitful 2013!
Bookherd posted her 2010 book list! I also got lists from my dad, my sister, and Sanguinity, and I want to read books from all of them in 2011. Not just because I can snag good book recommendations from all of them, but because I like the idea of creating little pieces of common ground. If everyone reads completely different sets of books, that’s as unsatisfying as if everyone reads exactly the same books, you know?
So to add to my to-read list:
From my dad, T.C. Boyle’s When the Killing’s Done
From my sister, Lavany Sankaran’s The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories and Colleen McCullough’s The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett
From Bookherd, Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste and Hope Larson’s Chiggers
From Sanguinity, Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing, Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and Nicola Griffith’s Slow River. Also Peter Watts’ Blindsight, from a previous year.
Plus eventually I will move on to O and letters beyond in my alphabet reading. I usually read 75 to 100 books each year… my dance card is filling up fast!
Maybe I should find a better way to organize the queue than my current haphazard combination of desktop stickies, unsent email to myself, holds list at the public library, and wishlists at Amazon and Powells.com. But maybe not. Maybe some haphazard should be preserved.