At the beginning of last year I had a few goals when it came to what I read.
I wanted to read at least 30 books. I wanted to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I wanted to read more minority writers than white writers, and at least as many women authors as men.
Looking back I did pretty good in meeting these.
I ended up reading 47 books which seems insane to me. Even more so because I only read five books from June-August. I guess the garden took more precedent during the warm months.
I read 35 novels and 12 non-fiction books, which was way off of my goal. I try to do this so that I am always learning as I get older. It can be easy to just read novels nonstop.
I read 20 novels by men and 15 by women and 25 by people of color. Not bad. Still some work to do here.
I think it is very important to find ways to broaden your horizons and a lot of that has to do with reading books that come from a different perspective than your own.
Anyway, on to the books.
Top 8 Fiction
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese – Devastating read about a Canadian Indian who is forced to live in a native school where he is repeatedly raped by a priest. He eventually uses hockey as a means of escape and then goes on a long journey of discovering himself and the awful things that happened to him. Amazing, amazing book. Definitely need to reread.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Incredible book about humans who are cloned so their organs can be harvested to cure disease. Fascinating look at what it means to be human and the costs of science and technology.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – an interesting look at love, relationships and marriage wrapped in a story about being black in America. Really interesting book.
There There by Tommy Orange – a depressing but gripping read. Story about Native Americans living in Oakland who eventually all end up at the site of a mass shooting. Definitely moves into my top 20, perhaps higher but I need to read it again to figure out what just happened.
Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward – Not really sure what to say about this book. A haunting, amazing, gutting read. Definitely need to read it a few more times to truly understand everything going on. Disturbing yet fascinating look at death and the afterlife.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – unreal book about what makes a mother: love or biology, with fascinating thoughts about interracial families, adoption, white privilege, rich people vs. poor and more. An incredible read.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – A novel about four generations of Koreans who live in Japan spanning most of the 20th Century. Fascinating look at cultures, assimilation, racism, jingoism and more. Very good read.
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan – Fascinating novel that follows four generations of a Palestinian family as it moves throughout the Middle East through war, heartache and death. I really enjoyed reading from an Arab’s eyes as I’ve never done so before. Really great book.
Top 5 Non-Fiction
Vanished by Will S. Hylton – Really interesting book about three planes that crashed in the South Pacific during WWII and one man’s hunt to find them.
The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu – Written by a former border patrol agent, telling stories of his time working on the border. And then of his efforts to help a friend who was deported navigate the legal system. Powerful look at what our immigration laws are doing to families on both sides of the border.
The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward – Memoir about five men in the author’s life who died, including her younger brother. Interesting insight into what it means to be black in America and especially in the South. Also fascinating to see the reality of her characters from her novels.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – Devastating read about our justice system, the horrors of death row, the death penalty and our prison system. Worth a reread to better digest everything. Overwhelming the horror that prisoners go through in our country.
Dreamland by Sam Quinones – a look at the opiate epidemic in America. Stunning book about the devastation caused by pharmaceutical companies and then the heroin that followed.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Column of Fire by Ken Follett
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith
The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling
The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman
The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish War by Ernest Hemingway
The Girls by Emma Cline
Barracoon: The Story of the last “Black Cargo”
Basketball (And Other Things) by Shea Serrano
The Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Bearskin by James McLaughlin
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
– Craig Craker