Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my liststravaganza (listsplosion?) this week. As is tradition, I’m finishing with this survey, then I promise to get back to reviewing books. Keep your eyes peeled later this week for my upcoming blogiversary announcement…it is a good one!
Oldest book read: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Longest book read: Also The Count of Monte Cristo (1276 pages)
Most-read review: This one completely blew my mind and kind of still does: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I posted that thing at midnight, and by the time I woke up it was already the most-viewed post in the history of this blog. It went on to get who knows how many thousands of views at PostBourgie and ONTD, and then Feministing linked to the review, so it’s gotten a few thousand hits on this blog too. I’m just like…whoa.
Favorite bookish moment: I had a few: being a finalist for a Goodreads award was really cool. Participating in World Book Night was a lot of fun (and before Caitlin Moran happened, that was my most-read post). And, of course, meeting Junot again!
Guiltiest pleasure: 50 Shades of Grey. It is atrociously stupid, I mocked it mercilessly, and I don’t know how anyone can get off on that because personally I was too busy laughing, but um…I plan to read the other two.
Most pleasant surprise: Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua. Little did I know it would become my favorite book of 2012.
Favorite blogger recommendation: American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, which I saw at S. Krishna’s Books. This is one of my honorable mentions for my favorite novels of 2012.
I’ll have a wrap up post tomorrow, but this is my last formal list for 2012 favorites. The thing that most stood out while making this list is how much authors of color kicked ass in short stories this year. I decided to keep the list down to three, but even if I’d expanded it to five, all of the authors would be POC!
Monstress by Lysley Tenorio (2012): This book went criminally under noticed last year, but I adored it. The collection heavily features Filipinos and Filipino Americans, and the stories have such a perfect mix of humor and heartache. The writing is exquisite. Read my review here.
Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu (2012): This collection is at times futuristic and science fiction-ish, yet also manages to feel very contemporary. It is a fun, strange book that will keep you on your toes. Read my review here.
This one goes out to Gerda Lerner.
I devote a lot of my nonfiction reading to women’s history and women’s studies — in fact, that’s all I feature on this blog during Women’s History Month — so rather than lump these books in with the rest of my nonfiction favorites, I always like to feature them on their own list. Everything here is in alphabetical order.
Feminism FOR REAL ed. by Jessica Yee (2011)
This anthology aims to take feminism out of the “academic industrial complex.” The writers, many of whom are Native American, struggle with what feminism means within the context of colonization, and raises important questions about the relevance of “academic feminism” to real life.
Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd (2011)
GEMS founder Rachel Lloyd uses her own experiences as a teenager as an entry point into a sobering look at modern-day sex trafficking in the United States. Each chapter is devoted to each stage of the cycle in which teens are trapped an exploited. It’s an important book. Read my review here.
Helen Keller by Dorothy Herrmann (1999)
This is a fascinating biography that takes readers far beyond The Miracle Worker and creates a fuller portrait of Helen Keller, who had a whirlwind life. It also looks at her codependent relationship with Annie Sullivan, who carefully cultivated Keller’s myth but also knew how to manipulate her pupil even as an adult. Read my review here.
2012 was a very strong year for novels, so this was a hard list to narrow down! I read 62 novels last year; here are my top 10. The first three are ranked; everything else is listed in alphabetical order by title.
Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua (2012)
Two men must suppress certain aspects of their Arab identities in order to find success in Jerusalem. One man is an intensely jealous lawyer who is convinced his wife is having an affair; the other is a social worker in a period of transition. It’s complex, satirical, and thought-provoking…hands down my favorite! Read my review here.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (2012)
Two pregnant girls show up on William Talmage’s farm, clearly runaways. He tries to help them as best he can, leaving them food and trying to earn their trust, but his solitary way of life is turned upside down when it becomes clear exactly what the girls are running away from. It’s a breathtaking debut. Read my review here.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)
A woman is brutally raped on the Ojibwe reservation, but the authorities have their hands tied as to how to proceed. Told through the eyes of the woman’s son, the book shows the devastating effects on the family. It’s nuanced and timely, considering how closely it reflects current events. Read my review here.
58.5 of the books I read in 2012 were nonfiction: 34 general nonfiction, 15 memoirs, and 7 essay collections (the 0.5 comes from an anthology that was a mix of fiction and nonfiction). That’s 1.5 more nonfiction books than I read last year. 2012 was also pretty awesome because this blog was a finalist in the Goodreads Independent Book Blogger Awards in the nonfiction category! I’ve had a pretty terrific year in nonfiction reading.
Most of the books on this list are from 2012, though a few are from the past couple of years. My three favorites are featured first; the rest of the books on the list are in alphabetical order. Since a significant portion of my nonfiction reading is devoted to women’s history and women’s studies, I split the list; that one will appear later this week:
The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone (2011)
Does the media control what we think? No! insists NPR’s Brooke Gladstone. She provides a brilliant, complex analysis of the ways that the media and the public play off each other to create a distorted hall of mirrors. It’s witty, it’s entertaining, and it’s all presented in comic book form! Read my review here.
The Little Red Guard by Wenguang Huang (2012)
Living in Xi’an under Mao’s rule, traditional Chinese rituals were forbidden. Yet at the age of 71, Huang’s grandmother becomes insistent that she wants to be buried rather than cremated, and her family spends the next fifteen years secretly planning a funeral that is forbidden by the government. It’s positively fascinating. Read my review here.
Drift by Rachel Maddow (2012)
The average person’s concept of what it means to be at war is far from what the founding fathers had in mind when they sat down to write the Constitution. Focusing on key decisions by US presidents from the past few decades, Maddow shows how the country’s involvement in war(s) and the military industrial complex became what it is today. Read my review here.