Best of the year lists are never worth much to me. With 900+ books on my TBR, it’s not like I’m ever on time or up to date with anything except things I find of the utmost urgency. Anyway, not reading books the year they come out means I have time to see what the reception of the book is like and to see if anyone I know has read them. Everybody in the world likes to recommend books to everyone else, and it’s all with goodwill and earnestness, but there are frankly very few people in the world whose recommendations I trust to be rooted in an understanding of me as a reader, not just me, someone who likes to read. And when I say “recommendation,” I also include in that people whom I trust whose reviews I read, even if they don’t directly recommend books to me.
At any rate, if you are for some reason curious about books that meant a lot to me this year, here they are:
One Family by George Shannon and Blanca Gomez
It’s like the Helen Oxenbury board books I loved as a baby and love today because they look like the families in the world I live in.
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot
It’s not just the nostalgia points for spinning off of a series I liked when I was young. It’s because it’s wish fulfillment and something little brown girls will be lucky to have: a book about being a normal kid who learns she’s extraordinary.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
It sounded cool when it first started getting buzz, and then it started sounding so amazing that I almost didn’t want to read it, because either I would find out it was no good or it would be amazing and over too soon. The latter happened. But it was worth it.
God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya
I was dubious for many reasons, but it turned out to be like reading a zine from a penpal. A cool one who you want to be good friends with.
Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust
I’m all about reading a good graphic memoir, and this one really spoke to how much I wanted to run away and travel and find myself and adventure. It also struck me how impossible lifestyles like this seem now, since we are so much more obsessed with digital footprints and border security and stuff, but I wonder if that’s just my social class and the meta world I live in than the actual possibilities.
About a Girl by Sarah McCarry
Another book that spoke to my teenage (and twenties, to be honest) wanderlust and confusion about how friendships, racial identity, family history, sexuality, and romance work as they’re all swimming around in your head.
This is a weird one to put on there, but as I’ve apparently resigned myself to going back to school next year, I’m reintegrating myself into the world of academic research. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing, but I’ve really been into considering constructions of girlhood lately, either because I’ve been considering dissertation topics or because it’s been in my mind and thus a consideration in my statement of purpose. This is not a dry read at all, and it’s well worth it.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari with Eric Klinenberg
It should come as no surprise that this is a fantastic audiobook. It’s also quite a good read. And it has really made an impact, in that I now second guess or analyze literally everything I do with regards to anyone who could be even the remotest sexual or romantic prospect. What I mean to say is that if you’re a masochist and hate your love life (or lack thereof), you should read this and it will ruin your life but also be really fascinating.
I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sarn
So much fucking feminism and well drawn parent characters and progressive and complex ideas about religion and gender roles. This book should be revolutionary, and instead it was really underrated. I think Kelly and I are the only people who read it, basically.
FWIW, I recommend them. But I understand that if we’re not close friends, colleagues, or kindred internet spirits, that may not mean a whole lot to you. And that’s fine.