My goal this year was to read 50 books; I achieved this goal and read 57 books this year. 32 were by women, 17 were by men, and 1 was co-authored by both.
Top five books of the year:
1. An Unnecessary Woman
by Rabih Alameddine
I think this was the last book I read for the Read Harder challenge, for the "Set in the Middle East" category. This novel was a wonderful discovery. A quiet, pensive, thoughtful meditation on what literature brings to our lives. I also loved experiencing the life of the Beiruti narrator. My favorite read of the year.
2. The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Another Read Harder Challenge book, and also a Tournament of Books finalist. This book changed my perception of the Vietnam War profoundly -- I had been so used to seeing it exclusively through an American lens that I didn't even realize I was doing it. Another highly recommended novel.
3. When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
The memoir of a brilliant neurologist who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and writes up until the end. Profoundly moving and beautifully written.
4. The Sellout
by Paul Beatty
This comedic exploration of race set in Los Angeles won the Tournament of Books, and deservedly so. Hilarious and urgent. An absolute highlight this year.
5. Tender at the Bone
by Ruth Reichl
This is Ruth Reichl's first memoir, and it was simply delightful in every way. I must read more from her this year.
Honorable mentions: A Little Life, Slade House, The Good Lord Bird, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Signature of All Things, Underground Airlines, The Last Policeman
Bottom five books:
by Nell Zink
It's kind of a tossup between my first two "worsts" for which I truly disliked more. I finished this only because it was a book club choice. I did not enjoy it or find it plausible at all.
2. The Invaders
by Karolina Waclawiak
Finished this out of loyalty to the Tournament of Books but really disliked this one too. Mediocre and irritating.
3. The Magicians
by Lev Grossman
I ranted about this in my previous entry, so I won't belabor the point. I didn't like it though!
4. Predictably Irrational
by Dan Ariely
Some interesting insights, but torpedoed by casual sexism throughout.
5. Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan
Enjoyable fluff until it completely failed to wrap up its plotlines, much less wrap them up satisfyingly.
Next year I will stick with the same two goals I achieved this year: read at at least 50 books and complete the Read Harder Challenge
. I'll be updating this post as the year goes on, as I did last year, with my selections for the challenge. I'll dig into the Goodreads suggestions soon too; they are how I found An Unnecessary Woman
last year! Some good categories this time around, too.
[ ] Book about sports
[ ] Debut novel
[ ] Book about books
[ ] Set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author
[ ] By an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative
[ ] All-ages comic
[ ] Published between 1900 and 1950
[ ] Travel memoir
[ ] Book you’ve read before
[ ] Set within 100 miles of your location, Tales of the City
[ ] Set more than 5000 miles from your location
[ ] Fantasy novel
[ ] Nonfiction book about technology
[ ] About war
[ ] YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+
[ ] Book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country
[ ] Classic by an author of color.
[ ] Superhero comic with a female lead.
[ ] A book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
[ ] An LGBTQ+ romance novel
[ ] Published by a micropress
[ ] Collection of stories by a woman, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
[ ] Collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love
[ ] A book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color
Happy new (book) year, everyone!
Labels: 2017 read harder challenge, wrapup