Blog

search for me

Books I Read in 2017

Happy New Year! 

I got through 28 books this year. My Goodreads goal was 20, and I achieved that with the help of several graphic novels. I got into the public anthropology program mentioned in last year’s post and spent lots of time reading journal articles. There was another art book, whose essays took me months to get through. New this year was an audio book, Ann Helen Petersen’s Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud. Petersen is the one reading her book to you. We listened to chapters as we drove between D.C. and St. Louis for the eclipse, a trip inspired by Annie Dillard’s The Abundance, one of my 2016 books. 

Unread books piled up around the apartment and my cubicle throughout the year. Ones I have yet to tackle include Yaa Gyaasi’s Homegoing, Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, After a While You Just Get Used to It: A Tale of Family Clutter by Gwendolyn Knapp, and Rice and Beans: A Unique Dish in a Hundred Places, edited by Richard Wilk and Lívia Barbosa. I want to read the last one because it represents a large part of my weekly diet. Maybe this will be the year I get to Arthur Kleinman’s What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life Amidst Uncertainty and Danger

My only reading goal this year was to finish the third LBJ book, Master of the Senate. I’ve listed it here prematurely, because I still have about 20 pages to go. But there are four hours left to the year, and I believe in myself. 

What books did you love in 2017? What are you looking forward to next year? Any favorite graphic novels I should check out? 

Here’s my 2017 list, with stars for the books I recommend. 

1. Black & Blue: The Origin and Consequences of Medical Racism, John Hoberman

2. The Kindness of Children, Vivian Gussin Paley 

3. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi**

IMG_4851 (2).jpg

4. Persepolis 2, Marjane Satrapi** - I've wanted to read these books for years. I walked by them repeatedly in the library and finally checked them out and tore through them. This panel made me laugh out loud. 

5.  My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante** - Two women I admire loved and recommended this series. After I finished My Brilliant Friend, I was ambivalent. “Well… if they both like them, there must be some reason,” I thought and picked up the next book. 

6. The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante** - I devoured the second book, while despising the two main characters and their awful decisions. I really needed to know what happened to them, though, but as the semester was beginning, I put the series aside to focus on reading about Marx.  

7. Karl Marx, Anthropologist, Thomas Patterson

8. The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America, Michael Taussig

9. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery  - Reread and cried again. 

10. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connections, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

11. The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, Julia Wertz 

12. Difficult Women, Roxane Gay**

13. Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing, Didier Fassin** 

14. Eating the Ocean, Elspeth Probyn 

15. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante** - The semester ended, and I was back to the Neapolitan novels. 

16. The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante** - By the time I finished this book, I’d convinced at least two other people to start the series. Names and relationships were confusing, and, as mentioned, I really hated the two main characters at times, but overall, I’m glad I stuck with it.

17. Becoming Unbecoming, Una - I didn’t know what this book was going to be and picked it because I liked the cover image. It was a about a British woman growing up when the Yorkshire Ripper was in the news. It’s about surviving rape and abuse, slut-shaming, misogyny, and the struggle of becoming a woman in a society that hates women. It was heartbreaking, enraging, inspiring, and way more than I expected from a graphic a novel. 

18. The Black Penguin, Andrew Evans**

19. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women, Ann Helen Petersen**

20. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, Tracy Kidder - I reread this for class, then told my professor I was thinking of leaving the program to become a nurse. I did not carry through. 

21. The Land of Open Graves, Jason De León

22. Anthropology: A Student’s Guide to Theory and Method, Stanley R. Barrett

23. Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter** - this was one I stayed in bed to finish on a Sunday morning.

24. Niki de Saint Phaille and the Tarot Garden - Jill Johnston, Marella Caracciolo Chia, Giulio Pietromarchi - This was the art book whose text took me months to read. Niki de Saint Phaille was married to Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, and she created this wonderful sculpture garden in Italy that we will get to one day.  

25. Lumberjanes vol 3: A Terrible Plan - Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen

26. Lumberjanes vol 4: Out of Time - Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen

27. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Dorothy Roberts

28. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, Robert Caro** 

 

 

 

Books I Read in 2016

Happy 2017! 

2016 was generally a rough year, and the 27 books I read this year are unimpressive compared to last year’s 48. I only reached 27 thanks to four comic books. Then again, I took two graduate classes and had a job the whole year, versus 2015’s five months of fellowship and four months of employment. So in between pleasure reading, there were hours of chapters on archival document management and capitalism. I’ve applied to a graduate program, and if that goes well, there will be many more hours of reading capitalism in 2017.

Looking back at last year’s post, I did accomplish my goals of reading The Education of Henry Adams and SulaThere was a stark lack of LBJ in 2016, so my only reading goal for next year is to finish book three in the Years of Lyndon Johnson series, Master of the Senate. I’ve also got both Persepolis books on my night stand and an ever-growing list of books to read on Goodreads.

What were some of your favorite books this year? What’s on your list for 2017? 

Here are the 27 books I read in 2016, with stars for the ones I really loved and recommend: 

  1. White Teeth, Zadie Smith**
  2. The Education of Henry Adams, Henry Adams - this one is interesting for the history. I started reading it in 2015 for Jamaica Kincaid's Autobiography and Memoir class. She pointed out that Adams writes his life story without once mentioning his wife, Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams, who committed suicide by drinking photo chemicals. He makes one allusion to her death when he mentions going to the Washington cemetery "known as Rock Creek, to see the bronze figure which St. Gaudens had made for him in his absence." One reference in 505 pages. 
  3. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
  4. Kehinde Wiley: New Republic, various authors
  5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell ** - I recommend this so much I wrote a blog post about it. It pairs especially well with lots of Hamilton soundtrack. 
  6. On My Own, Diane Rehm** - definitely recommended for Diane Rehm fans. Maybe not recommended if you’ve lost someone recently and might cry on the bus on your way to work as you read it. Or perhaps it’s just what you  need? 
  7. Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American, Peter Jamero
  8. Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage, Michael R. Veach
  9. Sula, Toni Morrison**
  10. H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald** - there were times I had to stop reading this because it was so heartbreakingly sad.
  11. Au revoir, les enfants, Louis Malle - read to get ready for France! 
  12. My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, Ruth Reichl 
  13. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay**
  14. The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
  15. The Abundance, Annie Dillard** - this, like H is for Hawk, made me think, “I will never write this well.” Beautiful. 
  16. Driving Hungry, Layne Mosler
  17. East Along the Equator, Helen Winternitz
  18. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
  19. Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
  20. Black Panther, Ta-Nehesi Coates
  21. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie** - I loved this book. It might be my favorite of the ones I read last year. 
  22. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, Andrea Wulf**  
  23. The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72, Molly Peacock**
  24. Lumberjanes vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
  25. Lumberjanes vol 2: Friendship to the Max, Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
  26. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: 16 Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, ed Meghan Daum
  27. French Milk, Lucy Knisley

Books I Read in 2015

Happy New Year! 

At 48 books, 2015 was a good reading year. Then again, seven of those were Harry Potter books, three were the His Dark Materials series, and one was a comic book. Thanks to the Nieman Fellowship in the first half of the year, I had time to read and take a class on Autobiography and Memoir, which meant more reading, roughly a book a week (still haven’t finished The Education of Henry Adams, though. There’s always next year).  

Here’s the list with stars for recommendations.  

1. The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois** 
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
4. Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America & the Fight for Cumberland Island, Will Harlan** 
5. Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, Alysia Abbott** - Abbott was a Nieman affiliate (the people the Fellows bring with them) and spoke to us at the beginning of the fellowship. Fairyland is her story of growing up in 70s and 80s San Francisco with a gay father. It is a beautiful book.  
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
7. Yes Please, Amy Poehler
8. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
9. The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
10. Narrative of a Life of Frederick Douglass
11. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Clarence King** - early mountaineers were madmen. Also, Clarence King led a double life, which you wouldn't know from reading this book, because he wrote it before the double life began. He married Ada Copeland, an African American woman, who knew him as a James Todd. He told her he was a Pullman porter (and of African descent). He was actually white, a geologist, and the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey. It’s interesting reading this book with this knowledge and looking for clues about his future.  
12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman** - this was my first Neil Gaiman book, and it won’t be my last.  
13. Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, Elizabeth Keckley** - Fascinating. Read this.  
14. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
15. Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, Mary Seacole
16. Tiger, Tiger, Margaux Fragoso
17. Aké, Wole Soyinka
18. How I Became Hettie Jones, Hettie Jones
19. Family, Ian Frazier
20. The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
21. Against Football - One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto, Steve Almond**  
22. Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I'd Known, Chantal Panozzo
23. The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
26. Rock Creek Park, Gail Spilsbury
27. Tenth of December, George Saunders
28. Forest Hills (Images of America), Margery L. Elfin
29. Micrographica, Renee French  
30. On the Map, Simon Garfield
31. The Might Have Been, Joe Schuster
32. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald
33. A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal As A Path to Place, Hannah Hinchman
34. Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past, William Zinsser
35. Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury** - I wrote a separate post about how great this book is and why you should read it. 
36. Loitering, Charles D’Ambrosia
37. Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever** - This was suggested reading at the end of a negotiation workshop. While it isn’t a page-turner, I recognized lots of truth in it and have been recommending it to all my lady friends, co-workers, and my boss.  
38. Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino
39. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehesi Coates**  
40. Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez
41. Une Si Longue Lettre, Mariama Ba
42. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien  - This was certainly the strangest book I read all year.  
43. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, Robert Caro** - I gave the first book in this series to both my brother and my dad this year. I wish I could have a Caro biography or a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical about every part of history. Caro's description of former Texas governor Coke Stevenson’s work ethic and reading so inspired me that I woke up early to read for at least five of the ten days it took me to finish this book.  
44. The Taste of Country Cooking, Edna Lewis 45.    Northern Lights, Philip Pullman** - I plowed through all three of these books in less than a week and loved them, but wow, the third book is way too long.  
46. The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
47. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
48. Beautiful Swimmers, William Warner - If you are at all interested in the blue crab, this book is required reading. I am very interested in the blue crab and hope to inspect some closely this summer.  

What was the best book you read in 2015? What’s on your list for this year? I’d like to get through at least the next two LBJ books and have been instructed to read Toni Morrison’s Sula. I keep an ever-growing and generally ignored To-Read list on Goodreads. What do you recommend?  

Wishing you all a year full of excellent reading.