January was a tough month for me, and I didn’t read many good books during this time. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet stood out to me like a gem that I still recall fondly. Jamie Ford’s book was full of romance that spanned decades, history about WWII from a perspective that I hadn’t heard much from (a.k.a. Japanese Americans living in Seattle), and beautiful imagery.
February was also a mediocre reading month for me, but Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere took me on a ride that I was not expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. I do believe this book was a little overhyped, but Ng’s writing is gorgeous.
March was glorious, with the chance to visit a friend’s library filled with graphic novels and the opportunity for a short spring break at the beach. I read a lot, and enjoyed almost all the books I read. My favorite book in March would have to be Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation. I have recently discovered alternative histories and I’m in love. Ireland’s novel and I were meant to be, as Jane learns to be a zombie slayer to fulfill her duty to the nation (unfortunately as an African American during Civil War era) – there’s a lot to chew over and think about in this story.
Honorable mentions to My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, which were also fantastic.
Violent Ends, an anthology edited by Shaun Hutchinson takes the cake in April, although I read many other fantastic books as well. Violent Ends is a story told in seventeen different perspectives (with 18 authors each writing a different perspective) of a school shooting, and although it was a dark topic and there were many more dark topics covered in the book, I loved the way this was told. I felt like there was really a lot going on here and almost every short story was a hit for me, filled to the brim with rich development.
Honorable mentions to This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe and Pax by Sara Pennypacker
May was tough to choose from. I read a host of awesome books and loved almost every book I read. My favorites would have to be George by Alex Gino and American Hippo by Sarah Gailey. George is the story of a young transgender girl in elementary school, dreaming of being Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. American Hippo is another alternative history, this time set in the South in the late 1800’s, exploring what might have been if the South were overrun by feral hippos. Both were beyond fantastic and I was so excited for their inclusivity.
June was another tough one to pick from, so I again have two. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was a book I have been wanting to read forever and finally picked up for the #bigbookbuddyread hosted by two lovely ladies on Instagram. This book is awesome and filled with history about what it has meant to be Korean refugees living in Japan for the last century, and it was given even more meaning through the rich discussions I was able to have with the book club. The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers is definitely one of my favorite books of the year so far. This biography is both of a man named Mokhtar and of the re-birth of Yemeni coffee, and this is such a wild ride. I was on the edge of my seat for the vast majority of this book, as Mokhtar travels through war-torn Yemen working on fulfilling his dream.
It’s a really awesome feeling looking back on the great books I’ve read this year. I hope this list brings a little more insight into which books are my top recommendations so far. I’ve also been tracking the books I read to see how I’m doing on reading more diversely, as supporting authors of color and LGBT+ authors/themes are important to me. My goals are to be reading at least 50% books by women, at least 50% books by POC authors, and at least 20% books with LGBTQIA themes. Here are my stats out of the first 50 books I’ve read this year:
Books by women: 34 (68%)
Books by men: 16 (32%)
Books by POC: 23 (46%)
Books by women POC: 16 (32%)
Books by men POC: 7 (14%)
Books about LGBTQIA themes: 10 (20%)