Books of 2019

As I do every year, I’ve kept a list of the books I read, their dates of publication, and my ratings of them. Below are two lists of favorites (best nonfiction and best fiction), plus the entire list of books I read in 2019. I read a total of 219 books this year, which seems fitting for 2019. I did include individual issues of comics and some children’s books here, which might seem like a cheat, but I also didn’t count many, many, many of the kids books I read this year with my kids. I only included a small handful of the most memorable ones.

First, favorites! I’m listing them in alphabetical order in each category. I couldn’t possibly rank the lists; narrowing it this far was hard enough!

Best Nonfiction:

  1. Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America (2018)
    • This might be only for the reader who loves Angels in America, but that’s me, so I loved it!
  2. Casey Cep, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee (2019)
    • Fascinating true crime, literary history, and regional history all at once.
  3. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (2015)
    • A rare academic book that is not only intellectually fascinating and relevant to my research but also moving.
  4. Ariel Gore, Hexing the Patriarchy: 26 Potions, Spells, and Magical Elixirs to Embolden the Resistance (2019)
    • Fun, feminist witchery!
  5. Taisia Kitaiskaia, Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles (2017)
    • Advice in the form of prose poems, from the perspective of a powerful, self-possessed witch.
  6. Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist (2019)
    • The title says it all. I’m teaching it this semester!
  7. Rax King, The People’s Elbow (2018)
    • A short memoir that somehow effectively combines a narrative about rape and trauma with an obsession with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The best accidental find of the year!
  8. Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House (2019)
    • A brilliant memoir of an abusive relationship. Machado is a beautiful writer, and this was really hard to read but worth it.
  9. Mallory O’Meara, The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick (2019)
    • If I were ranking my Top Ten, this might be #1. O’Meara’s book is hilarious and filled with fascinating film history. Plus, I had several feminist “fuck yeah!” reactions, even in just the first few pages. Everyone should read this book.
  10. Nicole Seymour, Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age (2018)
    • Another academic book that I truly enjoyed reading!

Best Fiction:

  1. Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night (2019)
    • Cool worldbuilding and aliens! Queer characters! Beautiful writing! I read this with a student reading group in the spring, and they all loved it, too.
  2. Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls (2018)
    • A retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of the women in the background of those tales of war and conquest.
  3. Robert Jackson Bennett, Foundryside (2018)
    • Bennett remains one of my favorite fantasy writers. This is a fun adventure story that ultimately has something powerful to say about self-determination.
  4. Chelsea Cain (ill. Kate Niemczyk and Lia Miternique), Man-Eaters, Vol. 1 (2019)
    • It’s a comic book about periods, cats, toxoplasmosis, and violence! It’s fun!
  5. Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (2017)
    • YA science fiction about North American indigenous people, loss of culture, and resilience.
  6. Meg Elison, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (2014)
    • Another dystopia, this one focused on dangers to women. Deadly childbirth and masculinist enclaves. Terrifying. Also, I met Meg at an event earlier this year, and she is super cool.
  7. Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This Is How You Lose the Time War (2019)
    • I’m sometimes iffy about time travel narratives, but I loved this one. It’s a love story that gives it a real emotional core beyond the thinky bits. I loved this book so much that on my one full day in Chicago on my own, I opted to sit in a coffee shop and read this until I devoured the whole thing instead of going to more places.
  8. Ariel Gore, We Were Witches (2017)
    • It’s not as much about witchcraft as the title might indicate, but I loved it anyway.
  9. Peter Heller, The River (2019)
    • Men bonding out in nature. This book reminds me of both Deliverance and Brokeback Mountain in various ways. The end made me cry in public. No regrets.
  10. N. K. Jemisin, Broken Earth series: The Fifth Season (2015), The Obelisk Gate (2016), The Stone Sky (2017)
    • Yes, I’m cheating here. I don’t care. I loved this series so much. I read this whole series with another student reading group in the spring, and they loved it, too! I just can’t believe I waited so long before reading it. This series more than deserves all the hype it has gotten and all the awards it has won.
  11. Guy Gavriel Kay, A Brightness Long Ago (2019)
    • Kay is a beautiful fantasy writer (I’ve long loved his Fionavar Tapestry series), and this is a really lovely, reflective story that’s actually mostly about aging and memory.
  12. Stephen King, Pet Sematary
    • This is another one that made me cry while reading it in public. I honestly can’t decide if I love or hate this book because I found it so intensely upsetting.
  13. Ann Leckie, The Raven Tower (2019)
    • I know Leckie primarily as a science fiction writer (space opera, cool AI, etc.), so I was both excited and hesitant with her shift to fantasy, but this book is so great. Honestly, I read it a while ago, so I don’t remember many details, but I remember I loved it.
  14. Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire (2019)
    • Science fiction with a complex world, an interesting protagonist, and very neat technology! Its best feature is its attention to power and politics, though.
  15. Tamsyn Muir, Gideon the Ninth (2019)
    • Lesbian necromancers! A snarky heroine! Adventures! This was a wonderfully fun book.
  16. Annalee Newitz, The Future of Another Timeline (2019)
    • This book gives me hope. It’s another time travel book, featuring alternate histories, with an eye to the possibility of creating a better future. Central settings include an alternate SoCal feminist punk scene and the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which means I am inherently into this! It also addresses reproductive rights and feminist history in both direct and complicated ways. It’s almost like she wrote it just for me!
  17. Helen Phillips, The Need (2019)
    • A dark story about motherhood, one that I found quite upsetting at times. It reminds me in some ways of Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream – just as with that book, I didn’t always like reading it, but I also couldn’t stop.
  18. Richard Powers, The Overstory (2018)
    • I bought this book ages ago, simply because I’ve always loved Powers’ writing, and I finally (just within the last week) found enough time and mental bandwidth to read it. It was so worth waiting for! It’s a book about trees that has me excited about learning more botany. It’s a book about activism that inspires. It’s long, but I plan to teach it in my environmental lit & culture class next fall (and I really hope the students like it!).
  19. Lina Rather, Sisters of the Vast Black (2019)
    • Nuns in space! That makes it sound silly, but it’s a thoughtful novella about politics and religion in a society expanding across space.
  20. Karen Thompson Walker, The Dreamers (2019)
    • A pandemic causes the people of a small town to fall asleep. It’s quietly frightening.

And here is the entire list of books I read this year, complete with ratings. Five-star books are in bold; there are more five-star books than made my lists above.

January

  1. David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018) – 4 stars
  2. Alexis Turner, Taxidermy (2013) – 4 stars
  3. Joyce Carol Oates, Hazards of Time Travel (2018) – 3 stars
  4. James Tynion IV (ill. Eryk Donovan and Dee Cunniffe), Eugenic (2018) – 4 stars
  5. Mira Grant, Kingdom of Needle and Bone (2018) – 4 stars
  6. Phil Kaye, Date & Time (2018) – 4 stars
  7. Barry Keith Grant, Monster Cinema (2018) – 3 stars
  8. Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds (2019) – 4 stars
  9. Starr Stackstein, Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School (2015) – 3 stars
  10. Craig Jones, Blood Secrets (1978) – 4 stars
  11. Sam J. Miller, The Art of Starving (2017) – 5 stars
  12. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, E. B. DuBois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America (2018) – 4 stars
  13. K. Reed (ill. Joe Flood), Science Comics: Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers (2016) – 4 stars
  14. Jeff Moss (ill. Tom Leigh), Bone Poems (1997) – 3 stars
  15. K. Jemisin, How Long ‘til Black History Month? (2018) – 4 stars

February

  1. Alec Nevala-Lee, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (2018) – 4 stars
  2. Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow (2019) – 5 stars
  3. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon (2018) – 4 stars
  4. John Warner, Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities (2018) – 4 stars
  5. Eli Saslow, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist (2018) – 3 stars
  6. Wesley Chu, Time Salvager (2015) – 4 stars
  7. Katharine Burdekin, Swastika Night (1937) – 3 stars
  8. Robert Jackson Bennett, Vigilance (2019) – 4 stars
  9. Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America (2018) – 5 stars
  10. Joanna Wolfe, Team Writing: A Guide to Working in Groups (2009) – 4 stars

March

  1. Wesley Chu, Time Siege (2016) – 4 stars
  2. Benjamin Dreyer, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style (2019) – 3 stars
  3. Dane Huckelbridge, No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History (2019) – 3 stars
  4. Axel Young, Blood Rubies (1982) – 3 stars
  5. Nick Pyenson, Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures (2018) – 3 stars
  6. Mallory O’Meara, The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick (2019) – 5 stars
  7. Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish (2015) – 5 stars
  8. N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2015) – 5 stars
  9. Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night (2019) – 5 stars
  10. Helen Oyeyemi, Gingerbread (2019) – 3 stars
  11. Eoin Colfer, Illegal (2017) – 4 stars
  12. Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer (2018) – 3 stars
  13. Judith Viorst, Lulu and the Brontosaurus (2010) – 4 stars
  14. Robin Williams, The Non-Designer’s Design Book (4th edition) (2014) – 3 stars
  15. Osamu Tezuka, A Tale of the Twentieth Century (1983; 1996) – 3 stars
  16. Debbie Tung, Book Love (2019) – 3 stars
  17. N. K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate (2016) – 5 stars
  18. Monique W. Morris, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (2016) – 4 stars
  19. Rose Macaulay, What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918) – 4 stars
  20. Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Nancy Fraser, Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto (2019) – 4 stars
  21. Peter Heller, The River (2019) – 5 stars
  22. Renée Nault (and Margaret Atwood), The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel (2019) – 5 stars

April

  1. Stephen King, Pet Sematary (1983) – 5 stars
  2. Victor LaValle and John Jacob Adams (eds.), A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers (2019) – 5 stars
  3. Nicole Seymour, Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age (2018) – 5 stars
  4. Kyle Baker, Nat Turner (2006) – 4 stars
  5. James Howe (ill. Randy Cecil), Brontorina (2010) – 5 stars
  6. Ted Rechlin, Sharks: A 400 Million Year Journey (2018) – 4 stars
  7. N. K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky (2017) – 5 stars
  8. Jennie Orr and David Orr, Mammoth is Mopey (2015) – 4 stars
  9. Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (2009) – 4 stars
  10. Josh Malerman, Inspection (2019) – 2 stars
  11. Miriam Toews, Women Talking (2018) – 3 stars
  12. Darcy Van Poelgeest, Little Bird #1 (2019) – 4 stars
  13. U. Nicholson, Fingers of Fear (1937) – 3 stars
  14. Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs (ill. Hayden Sherman), Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #1 (2019) – 4 stars
  15. Darcy Van Poelgeest, Little Bird #2 (2019) – 5 stars
  16. Jeff Lemire (ill. Dustin Nguyen), Ascender #1 (2019) – 4 stars
  17. Seanan McGuire, In an Absent Dream (2019) – 4 stars
  18. David Streitfeld (ed.), Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations (2019) – 4 stars
  19. Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) – 3 stars
  20. Chelsea Cain (ill. Kate Niemczyk and Lia Miternique), Man-Eaters, Vol. 1 (2019) – 5 stars

May

  1. Ulises Farinas, Godzilla: Rage Across Time (2016) – 3 stars
  2. Emily Tetri, Tiger vs. Nightmare (2018) – 5 stars
  3. Jon Agee, Life on Mars (2017) – 4 stars
  4. Ken Greenhall, Childgrave (1981) – 4 stars
  5. Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire (2019) – 5 stars
  6. Ira Levin, Sliver (1991) – 3 stars
  7. Ann Leckie, The Raven Tower (2019) – 5 stars
  8. Seanan McGuire, Middlegame (2019) – 4 stars
  9. Sarah Perry, Melmoth (2018) – 4 stars
  10. Saladin Ahmed (ill. Sami Kivelä), Abbott (2018) – 4 stars
  11. Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of Ruin (2019) – 4 stars
  12. Jeff VanderMeer, This World Is Full of Monsters (2017) – 3 stars
  13. Nnedi Okorafor (ill. Leonardo Romero), Shuri, Vol. 1: The Search for Black Panther (2019) – 3 stars
  14. Darcy Van Poelgeest, Little Bird #3 (2019) – 5 stars
  15. Guy Gavriel Kay, A Brightness Long Ago (2019) – 5 stars
  16. Alena Graedon, The Word Exchange (2014) – 4 stars
  17. Helen Marshall, The Migration (2019) – 4 stars
  18. Soraya Chemaly, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018) – 4 stars
  19. Chen Qiufan, Waste Tide (2013; 2019) – 4 stars

June

  1. Chess, Famous Men Who Never Lived (2019) – 4 stars
  2. Meg Elison, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (2014) – 5 stars
  3. Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #2 (2019) – 4 stars
  4. Brian Attebery, The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin (1980) – 3 stars
  5. Farah Mendlesohn, A Short History of Fantasy (2009) – 3 stars
  6. Tim Johnston, The Current (2019) – 5 stars
  7. George O. Smith, Hellflower (1953) – 2 stars
  8. Gwyneth Jones, Joanna Russ (2019) – 3 stars
  9. Tobias Meneley and Jesse Oak Taylor (eds.), Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times (2017) – 4 stars
  10. Edward James, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (2012) – 3 stars
  11. Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Apprentice (1995) – 4 stars
  12. Robin Hobb, Royal Assassin (1996) – 4 stars
  13. Roy Porter, The Making of Geology: Earth Science in retain, 1660-1815 (2008) – 3 stars
  14. Adelene Buckland, Novel Science: Fiction and the Invention of Nineteenth-Century Geology (2013) – 4 stars
  15. Robert Spadoni, Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre (2007) – 4 stars
  16. Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Quest (1997) – 4 stars
  17. J. Parker, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City (2019) – 4 stars

July

  1. Kage Baker, The Anvil of the World (2003) – 3 stars
  2. Brian Attebery, Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth (2013) – 4 stars
  3. Chuck Wendig, Wanderers (2019) – 4 stars
  4. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell, The Tangled Lands (2018) – 5 stars
  5. Helen Phillips, The Need (2019) – 5 stars
  6. Sam J. Miller, Destroy All Monsters (2019) – 5 stars
  7. Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars (2019) – 4 stars
  8. Allen A. Debus, Prehistoric Monsters: The Real and Imagined Creatures of the Past That We Love to Fear (2009) – 3 stars
  9. Jenn Lyons, The Ruin of Kings (2019) – 3 stars
  10. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (2015) – 5 stars
  11. Grégoire Courtois (trans. Mullins Rhonda), The Laws of the Skies (2016; 2019) – 2 stars
  12. Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography (2018) – 4 stars
  13. Jennifer Fay, Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (2018) – 4 stars
  14. Claire McGowan, What You Did (2019) – 3 stars
  15. Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This Is How You Lose the Time War (2019) – 5 stars
  16. Rax King, The People’s Elbow (2018) – 5 stars

August

  1. Sarah Rose Etter, The Book of X (2019) – 4 stars
  2. Jennifer Fay, Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (2018) – 4 stars
  3. George Gaylord Simpson, The Dechronization of Sam Magruder (1996) – 3 stars
  4. Eugene Linden, Deep Past (2019) – 3 stars
  5. Gary Grossman, Old Earth (2015) – 2 stars
  6. Markisan Naso (ill. Jason Muhr), Voracious: Diners, Dinosaurs & Dives (2016) – 4 stars
  7. Markisan Naso (ill. Jason Muhr), Voracious: Feeding Time (2017) – 4 stars
  8. Kyle Bladow and Jennifer Ladino (eds.), Affective Ecocriticism: Emotion, Embodiment, Environment (2018) – 4 stars
  9. Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare (ill. Natacha Bustos), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF (2015) – 3 stars
  10. Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare (ill. Marco Failla and Natacha Bustos), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 2: Cosmic Cooties (2016) – 4 stars
  11. Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore, BTTM FDRS (2019) – 4 stars
  12. Camille T. Dungy, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History (2017) – 4 stars
  13. Jeanette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun (2017) – 3 stars
  14. Naomi Morgenstern, Wild Child: Intensive Parenting and Posthumanist Ethics (2018) – 4 stars
  15. Mira Grant, In the Shadow of Spindrift House (2019) – 4 stars

September

  1. Blake Crouch, Recursion (2019) – 3 stars
  2. Nicholas Aflleje, Sarah Delaine, Ashley Lanni, and Adam Wollet, Little Girls (2019) – 4 stars
  3. Benjanun Sriduangkaew, And Shall Machines Surrender (2019) – 4 stars
  4. Sady Doyle, Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power (2019) – 4 stars
  5. Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls (2018) – 5 stars
  6. Santiago Garcia (ill. David Rubin), Beowulf (2013) – 4 stars
  7. Michael Alexander (trans.), Beowulf (975; 2003) – 3 stars
  8. Burton Raffel (trans.), Beowulf (975; 1963) – 4 stars
  9. Scott Poole, Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror (2018) – 4 stars
  10. Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles (2011) – 4 stars
  11. Kieron Gillen (ill. Jamie McKelvie), The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act (2014) – 4 stars
  12. Kieron Gillen (ill. Jamie McKelvie), The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 2 (2015) – 5 stars
  13. Frederick Rebsamen (trans.), Beowulf: An Updated Verse Translation (1000; 2013) – 5 stars
  14. Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire (2017) – 4 stars
  15. Seamus Heaney (trans.), Beowulf: A Verse Translation (1000; 2007) – 4 stars
  16. Kieron Gillen (ill. Jamie McKelvie), The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide (2016) – 3 stars
  17. Kieron Gillen (ill. Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson), The Wicked + The Divine, Vol.4: Rising Action (2016) – 4 stars
  18. Eve L. Ewing, 1919 (2019) – 4 stars
  19. Casey Cep, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee (2019) – 5 stars
  20. Sophocles (trans. Anne Carson), Antigone (441 BCE; 2015) – 5 stars
  21. Euripides (trans. Sheila Murnaghan), Medea (431 BCE; 2018) – 4 stars
  22. Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., Black Medea: Adaptations for Modern Plays (2013) – 3 stars
  23. Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, Medea: A Radical New Version from the Perspective of the Children (2015) – 5 stars
  24. Euripides (trans. Anne Carson), Bakkhai (405 BCE; 2015) – 4 stars
  25. Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist (2019) – 5 stars
  26. Tamsyn Muir, Gideon the Ninth (2019) – 5 stars
  27. L. Stine (ill. German Peralta, Daniel Warren Johnson, Christopher Mitten, and Kate Niemczyk), Man-Thing (2017) – 3 stars
  28. Mona Eltahawy, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls (2019)- 4 stars
  29. Michael Patrick Hicks, The Resurrectionists (2019) – 3 stars

October

  1. Kit Whitfield, Benighted (2006) – 4 stars
  2. Marcus Sedgwick, Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black (2019) – 3 stars
  3. Kim Q. Hall (ed.), Feminist Disability Studies (2011) – 4 stars
  4. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (2019) – 4 stars
  5. Jennifer Giesbrecht, The Monster of Elendhaven (2019) – 4 stars
  6. Bettina L. Love, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (2019) – 4 stars
  7. Carolyn Johnsen (ed.), Taking Science to the People: A Communication Primer for Scientists and Engineers (2010) – 4 stars
  8. X. Beckett, Gamechanger (2019) – 4 stars
  9. Laird Hunt, In the House in the Dark of the Woods (2018) – 3 stars
  10. Mica Pollock, Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School (2008) – 3 stars
  11. Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016) – 2 stars
  12. Naomi Booth, Sealed (2017) – 4 stars
  13. Silvia Federici, Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women (2018) – 4 stars
  14. Jack Finney, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955) – 4 stars
  15. Ariel Gore, Hexing the Patriarchy: 26 Potions, Spells, and Magical Elixirs to Embolden the Resistance (2019) – 5 stars
  16. Jamila Lyiscott, Black Appetite. White Food.: Issues of Race, Voice, and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom (2019) – 3 stars
  17. Sabrina Scott, witchbody (2015) – 4 stars

November

  1. Kristen J. Sollee, Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive (2017) – 3 stars
  2. Dan Watters (ill. Val Rodrigues), Deep Roots (2019) – 4 stars
  3. Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic (1995) – 4 stars
  4. Ariel Gore, We Were Witches (2017) – 5 stars
  5. Karen Thompson Walker, The Dreamers (2019) – 5 stars
  6. Cixin Liu, Supernova Era (2019) – 3 stars
  7. Adam Nevill, The Reddening (2019) – 3 stars
  8. Taisia Kitaiskaia, Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles (2017) – 5 stars
  9. Annalee Newitz, The Future of Another Timeline (2019) – 5 stars
  10. Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet (1974) – 4 stars
  11. Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (2017) – 5 stars
  12. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, and K. Wayne Yang (eds.), Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View (2018) – 4 stars
  13. Maryse Condé (trans. Richard Philcox), I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1986; 2009) – 4 stars
  14. Pam Grossman, Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power (2019) – 4 stars
  15. Pam Grossman, What Is a Witch (2016) – 4 stars
  16. Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (eds.), Toward What Justice?: Describing Diverse Dreams of Justice in Education (2018) – 4 stars
  17. Nnedi Okorafor, Akada Witch (2011) – 3 stars
  18. Andrew Michael Hurley, Starve Acre (2019) – 4 stars
  19. Jeanette Winterson, Frankisstein: A Love Story (2019) – 4 stars
  20. Natalia Ginzburg, The Dry Heart (1947; 2019) – 3 stars
  21. Leila Taylor, Darkly: Blackness and America’s Gothic Soul (2019) – 4 stars
  22. Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer (2019) – 4 stars

December

  1. Elvia Wilk, Oval (2019) – 3 stars
  2. Leonora Carrington, Down Below (1945) – 3 stars
  3. Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House (2019) – 4 stars
  4. Emily Carroll, When I Arrived at the Castle (2019) – 4 stars
  5. Lina Rather, Sisters of the Vast Black (2019) – 5 stars
  6. Jillian Weise, Cyborg Detective (2019) – 3 stars
  7. Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (2011; 2019) – 5 stars
  8. Nona Fernández (trans. Natasha Wimmer), Space Invaders (2013; 2019) – 4 stars
  9. Claire Kann, Let’s Talk About Love (2018) – 3 stars
  10. J. Tudor, The Hiding Place (2019) – 4 stars
  11. Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House (2019) – 5 stars
  12. Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered (2018) – 4 stars
  13. Robert Jackson Bennett, Foundryside (2018) – 5 stars
  14. Richard Powers, The Overstory (2018) – 5 stars
  15. Paul Tremblay, Growing Things and Other Stories (2019) – 4 stars
  16. Inés Estrada, Alienation (2019) – 3 stars
  17. Elizabeth Bram (ill. Chuck Groenink), Rufus the Writer (2015) – 4 stars

Decade Totals (as usual, skewed very much toward the last decade):

2010s – 183
2000s – 12
1990s – 7
1980s – 6
1970s – 2
1960s – 2
1950s – 2
1940s – 2
1930s – 2
1910s – 1
1-1000 AD – 4
500-1 BCE – 3

Star Ratings:

5 – 49
4 – 110
3 – 55
2 – 5
1 – 0

This might the first year I’ve ever had ZERO 1-star books in the year. I guess I’m getting better at choosing books I’ll actually like.

Books of 2017

With the new year, it’s time for my recap of the previous year’s reading. Here are all the books I read in 2017 (listed in chronological order, with ratings). After the long list, I’ve included some statistics and a list of my 20 favorites of the year with commentary on each.

This year, I read 172 books, split just about evenly between books by men and by women (49.5% by women and 50.5% by men), most of them very recent.

January

  1. Smriti Prasadam-Halls (ill. Alison Brown), I Love You Night and Day (2014) – 5 stars
  2. Rachel Ignotofsky, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Grant Morrison (ill. Frank Quitely), WE3 (2005) – 4 stars
  4. Warren Ellis, Normal (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (2016) – 5 stars
  6. Charles Foster, Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide (2016) – 4 stars
  7. Octavia E. Butler, Damian Duffy (adapted text) and John Jennings (illustrations), Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation (2016) – 4 stars
  8. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Cliff Chiang), Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (2016) – 4 stars
  9. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (ill. Nate Powell), March: Book One (2013) – 4 stars
  10. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (ill. Nate Powell), March: Book Two (2015) – 5 stars
  11. Fellowship of Reconciliation, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story (1957) – 5 stars
  12. Dan Wells, Extreme Makeover (2016) – 4 stars
  13. China Miéville, The Last Days of New Paris (2016) – 4 stars

February

  1. Riad Sattouf, The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 (2015) – 3 stars
  2. Wolfgang Bauer, Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe (2014) – 4 stars
  3. John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (2016) – 3 stars
  4. Margaret Atwood (ill. Johnnie Christmas), Angel Catbird, Vol. 1 (2016) – 3 stars
  5. Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus (1981) – 5 stars
  6. Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water (2011) – 5 stars
  7. Sutton E. Griggs, Imperium in Imperio (1899) – 2 stars
  8. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (ill. Nate Powell), March: Book Three (2016) – 5 stars
  9. Joanna Ebenstein, The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic (2016) – 4 stars
  10. Karen Joy Fowler (ed.), The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 (2016) – 4 stars

March

  1. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Cliff Chiang), Paper Girls 2 (2016) – 5 stars
  2. Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis (ill. Brooke Allen), Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max (2015) – 5 stars
  3. Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters, Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan (2016) – 4 stars
  4. Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (2016) – 5 stars
  5. Philippe Girard, Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life (2016) – 4 stars
  6. Jessie Sima, Not Quite Narwhal (2017) – 5 stars
  7. Maria Semple, Today Will Be Different (2016) – 3 stars
  8. Kate Evans, Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg (2015) – 4 stars

April

  1. Matt Fraction (ill. Chip Zdarsky), Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick (2014) – 4 stars
  2. John Darnielle, Universal Harvester (2017) – 4 stars
  3. Claire Belton, I Am Pusheen the Cat (2013) – 4 stars
  4. Ursula K. Heise, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Anne E. Greene, Writing Science in Plain English (2013) – 4 stars
  6. Kathleen McAuliffe, This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creature Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (2016) – 2 stars
  7. Reece Jones, Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move (2016) – 4 stars

May

  1. Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (2017) – 5 stars
  2. Jeff VanderMeer, Borne (2017) – 5 stars
  3. Jeff Lemire (ill. Dustin Nguyen), Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars (2015) – 4 stars
  4. Jeff Lemire (ill. Dustin Nguyen), Descender, Vol. 2: Machine Moon (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Hideo Yokoyama (trans. Jonathan Lloyd-Davies), Six Four (2012; 2017) – 4 stars
  6. Jeff Lemire (ill. Dustin Nguyen), Descender, Vol. 3: Singularities (2016) – 5 stars
  7. David R. Roediger, Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All (2014) – 4 stars
  8. Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays (2016) – 4 stars
  9. Ellen Datlow (ed.), Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror (2016) – 4 stars
  10. Dawn Keetley (ed.), Plant Horror: Approaches to the Monstrous Vegetal in Fiction and Film (2017) – 4 stars
  11. Tyler Kord, A Super Upsetting Book About Sandwiches (2016) – 4 stars

June

  1. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (2015) – 4 stars
  2. Stephanie Lemenager, Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (2013) – 5 stars
  3. Ben Lerner, The Hatred of Poetry (2016) – 3 stars
  4. H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (1936) – 5 stars
  5. Robin L. Murray and Joseph K. Heumann, Monstrous Nature: Environment and Horror on the Big Screen (2016) – 3 stars
  6. Samanta Schweblin (trans. Megan McDowell), Fever Dream (2017) – 5 stars
  7. Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (2013) – 4 stars
  8. Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017) – 3 stars
  9. Maggie Nelson, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial (2007) – 4 stars
  10. Tig Notaro, I’m Just a Person (2016) – 4 stars
  11. Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (2014) – 4 stars
  12. Ben Woodard, Slime Dynamics: Generation, Mutation, and the Creep of Life (2012) – 1 star
  13. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 2 (2013) – 4 stars
  14. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 3 (2014) – 4 stars
  15. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 4 (2014) – 4 stars
  16. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 5 (2015) – 5 stars
  17. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 6 (2016) – 4 stars
  18. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Vol. 7 (2017) – 5 stars
  19. Ruthanna Emrys, The Winter Tide (2017) – 3 stars
  20. Baratunde Thurston, How to Be Black (2012) – 4 stars
  21. Kelly Sue DeConnick (ill. Valentine deLandro), Bitch Planet #9 (2016) – 5 stars
  22. Kelly Sue DeConnick (ill. Valentine deLandro), Bitch Planet #10 (2017) – 5 stars

July

  1. Meg Howrey, The Wanderers (2017) – 5 stars
  2. J. Ryan (ill. David Marquez), The Joyners #1 (2016) – 3 stars
  3. J. Ryan (ill. David Marquez), The Joyners #2 (2016) – 3 stars
  4. J. Ryan (ill. David Marquez), The Joyners #3 (2016) – 3 stars
  5. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Clif Chiang), Paper Girls #11 (2017) – 5 stars
  6. Mira Grant, Final Girls (2017) – 4 stars
  7. Dale Carlson, The Plant People (1979) – 3 stars
  8. Stephen Graham Jones, Mapping the Interior (2017) – 5 stars
  9. H. P. Lovecraft (ed. S. T. Joshi), The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories (1932; 2004) – 3 stars
  10. Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016) – 4 stars
  11. Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (2016) – 4 stars
  12. Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us about Raising Successful Children (2016) – 2 stars
  13. Una, Becoming Unbecoming (2015) – 5 stars
  14. Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (2017) – 5 stars
  15. John Langan, The Fisherman (2016) – 5 stars
  16. Thomas W. Phelan, 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (1995) – 3 stars
  17. Chris Hayes, A Colony in a Nation (2017) – 4 stars
  18. Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016) – 4 stars
  19. Gerry Canavan, Octavia E. Butler (2016) – 5 stars
  20. Karin Tidbeck, Amatka (2012; 2017) – 4 stars
  21. Riley Sager, Final Girls (2017) – 3 stars
  22. Jeff Lemire (ill. Dustin Nguyen), Descender, Vol. 4: Orbital Mechanics (2017) – 4 stars
  23. Chad Brewster, Jeff Drake, Justin Hook, Rachel Hastings, and Mike Olsen, Bob’s Burgers, Volume 1 (2015) – 3 stars
  24. Margot-Anne Ramstein & Matthias Arégui, Before After (2013) – 5 stars
  25. Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Watters (ill. Brooke Allen), Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time (2016) – 4 stars
  26. Motoro Mase (trans. John Werry), Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Vol. 1 (2005; 2009) – 3 stars
  27. Motoro Mase (trans. John Werry), Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Vol. 2 (2006; 2009) – 4 stars
  28. Motoro Mase (trans. John Werry), Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Vol. 3 (2006; 2009) – 4 stars
  29. Motoro Mase (trans. John Werry), Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Vol. 4 (2007; 2010) – 3 stars

August

  1. Sarah Jaquette Ray and Jay Sibara (eds.), Disability Studies and the Environmental Humanities: Toward an Eco-Crip Theory (2017) – 4 stars
  2. Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure (2017) – 5 stars
  3. Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (2017) – 5 stars
  4. Robin R. Means Coleman, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present (2011) – 3 stars
  5. Sian MacArthur, Gothic Science Fiction: 1818 to the Present (2015) – 2 stars
  6. Kim E. Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (2012) – 4 stars
  7. Nellie Bly, Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887) – 4 stars
  8. Sherman Alexie, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (2017) – 5 stars
  9. Junji Ito, Fragments of Horror (2014) – 3 stars
  10. Andrew Smith and William Hughes (eds.), EcoGothic (2013) – 4 stars
  11. Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (2016) – 4 stars
  12. Sarah Waters, Fingersmith (2002) – 4 stars

September

  1. Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017) – 5 stars
  2. Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Chris Dingess (ill. Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni), Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora and Fauna (2014) – 4 stars
  4. Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, Daytripper (2011) – 5 stars
  5. Jac Jemc, The Grip of It (2017) – 4 stars
  6. Adam Nevill, The Ritual (2011) – 4 stars

October

  1. Paula Hawkins, Into the Water (2017) – 4 stars
  2. Adam Trexler, Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (2015) – 3 stars
  3. Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (1977) – 4 stars
  4. Susan A. George, Gendering Science Fiction Films: Invaders from the Suburbs (2013) – 3 stars
  5. Thomas P. Slaughter, Exploring Lewis and Clark: Reflections on Men and Wilderness (2003) – 3 stars
  6. Claire Messud, The Burning Girl (2017) – 4 stars
  7. Jeffrey Ford, The Twilight Pariah (2017) – 3 stars
  8. James Duane, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent (2016) – 3 stars
  9. Michael Finkel, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit (2017) – 4 stars
  10. Jill Ciment, Act of God (2015) – 3 stars
  11. Richard Misrach and Kate Orff, Petrochemical America (2012) – 5 stars
  12. Nick Abadzis, Laika (2007) – 4 stars
  13. Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2007) – 5 stars
  14. Junji Ito, Tomie (2011; 2016) – 3 stars
  15. Annalee Newitz, Autonomous (2017) – 4 stars
  16. Richard Matheson, Hell House (1971) – 4 stars
  17. Seanan McGuire, Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017) – 5 stars
  18. Emma Cline, The Girls (2016) – 4 stars
  19. Bonnie Noonan, Gender in Science Fiction Films, 1964-1979: A Critical Study (2015) – 2 stars
  20. Beth Underdown, The Witchfinder’s Sister (2017) – 4 stars
  21. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle (1986) – 4 stars
  22. Cassandra Khaw, Hammers on Bone (2016) – 4 stars
  23. John Green, Turtles All the Way Down (2017) – 5 stars

November

  1. David M. Oshinsky, Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital (2016) – 4 stars
  2. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles (2017) – 5 stars
  3. Clare Mackintosh, I See You (2016) – 4 stars
  4. Katie Anthony, Feminist Werewolf (2017) – 4 stars
  5. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005) – 4 stars
  6. Warren Ellis (ill. Colleen Doran), Orbiter (2003) – 3 stars
  7. Tade Thompson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne (2017) – 3 stars
  8. Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan (2017) – 4 stars
  9. Samantha Bee, I Know I Am, But What Are You? (2010) – 3 stars
  10. Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, It Devours! (2017) – 4 stars
  11. Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God (2017) – 5 stars
  12. Grady Hendrix, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and 80s Horror Fiction (2017) – 4 stars
  13. Susan M. Bernardo (ed.), Environments in Science Fiction: Essays on Alternative Spaces (2014) – 3 stars

December

  1. Ann E. Kaplan, Climate Trauma: Foreseeing the Future in Dystopian Film and Fiction (2015) – 4 stars
  2. Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep (2017) – 4 stars
  3. Reza Farazmand, Comics for a Strange World: A Book of Poorly Drawn Lines (2017) – 4 stars
  4. John Hodgman, Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches (2017) – 4 stars
  5. Antonia Mehnert, Climate Change Fictions: Representations of Global Warming in American Literature (2016) – 2 stars
  6. Ann Leckie, Provenance (2017) – 4 stars
  7. Marjorie Liu (ill. Sana Takeda), Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood (2017) – 4 stars
  8. James Han Mattson, The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves (2017) – 2 stars
  9. Jennie Melamed, Gather the Daughters (2017) – 4 stars
  10. Krysten Ritter, Bonfire (2017) – 4 stars
  11. Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (2017) – 5 stars
  12. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (2017) – 4 stars
  13. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Stories (2017) – 4 stars
  14. Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (2017) – 4 stars
  15. Laurie Penny, Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults (2017) – 4 stars
  16. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic (2006) – 3 stars
  17. Alexis Shotwell, Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times (2016) – 3 stars
  18. Lindsey Fitzharris, The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine (2017) – 3 stars
  19. Anne Finger, Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio (2006) – 5 stars

Decades:
2010s – 147 (85%)
2000s – 14 (8%)
1990s – 1 (0.5%)
1980s – 2 (1%)
1970s – 3 (2%)
1950s –1 (0.5%)
1930s – 2 (1%)
1890s – 1 (0.5%)
1880s – 1 (0.5%)

Ratings:
5 stars – 42 (24%)
4 stars – 89 (51.5%)
3 stars – 34 (20%)
2 stars – 7 (4%)
1 star – 1 (0.5%)

Favorites: I decided not to limit my list of favorites to five-star books; there are a couple here that I found flawed and so didn’t give five stars but that I still enjoyed quite a bit and that are sticking with me. I wound up with a nice, even 20 for my list of favorites and rather than ranking them or listing them somewhat randomly, I’ll separate them into categories.

  • Fiction
    • Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream (2017): This might be my favorite book of the last year. I intensely disliked it at first, but it grew on me and profoundly disturbed me. I’m teaching it this semester in my environmental lit, film, and culture class, so I’ll see how I feel upon re-reading it and discussing it. I’m also trying to work out something more critical to say in article form.
    • John Langan, The Fisherman (2016): A great horror novel with a strong emotional core.
    • John Green, Turtles All the Way Down (2017): C’mon, it’s John Green. As always, he made me cry. I’m seriously considering teaching this one in my Fall 2018 Intro to Humanities course (which will likely focus on disability and illness).
    • Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles (2017): This book is the conclusion of one of my favorite fantasy series. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. They have all the trappings of fantasy that you might expect, but/and (choose your conjunction depending on your previous experience with fantasy) they do a fantastic job digging into the consequences and resonances of both political and personal action.
    • Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God (2017): A bit of a departure for Erdrich in some ways, but just as heartbreaking and smart as usual. This one made me sob.
  • Biography / Memoir
    • Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (2016): Noah shines here in narrative form. Based on this book and his standup, I think his talents and skills are wasted on The Daily Show.
    • Sherman Alexie, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (2017): It’s Sherman Alexie. It’s great.
    • Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017): It’s Roxane Gay. It’s great.
    • Anne Finger, Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio (2006): This was the last book I read this year and so it’s fresh. It may not stick as strongly as some others, but it is an excellent memoir about living with the effects of polio. What I really loved about it is that – as the title indicates – it doesn’t simply focus on the individual experience but is constantly placing that individual experience in the context of the cultural (while also providing a vivid look into Finger’s life).
    • Gerry Canavan, Octavia E. Butler (2016): This could go in the following section as well, really, but the main draw for me here was the glimpse into Butler’s personal life and writing process. She’s one of my favorite sf writers, and Canavan’s presentation of his research is both scholarly and readable.
  • Criticism / Theory
    • Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (2016): I will be returning to this book repeatedly in my own work, as I always do with her work.
    • Stephanie Lemenager, Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (2013): Brilliant and fascinating. I particularly loved the chapter in which she explores museum presentations of petroleum.
    • Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (2017): Not only did I love what Ahmed had to say here about feminism in the academy (and in life) but I loved how she said it. I found myself marking almost every page.
    • Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure (2017): Yet another beautifully written and fascinating book. Clare’s exploration of disability, sexuality, and environment here is complex in all the best ways.
  • Art / Graphic Novel
    • Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus (1981): Nonsense, but such interesting nonsense.
    • Joanna Ebenstein, The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic (2016): I had never read much about this bit of history before, so I learned a lot from this book (and have used it in my teaching since) and it is a beautifully constructed book with tons of pictures.
    • Richard Misrach and Kate Orff, Petrochemical America (2012): A combination of photography and infographics about Cancer Alley in Louisiana. I will be teaching this in my environmental lit, film, and culture course as well, and I am so curious to see what my students make of it.
    • Grady Hendrix, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction (2017): This book is a bit flawed, but even with its flaws it’s a favorite of 2017. It’s funny and has so many great book covers to enjoy and wonder over. I definitely added quite a few authors and titles to my to-read lists based on Hendrix’s coverage.
    • Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (2017): Aaah, this is so good! I can’t wait for the sequel!
  • Poetry
    • Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (2017): I apparently didn’t read much poetry this year, at least not whole books of it. Even given that, this is a fantastic collection. I’d read one of Smith’s poems before (Dinosaurs in the Hood) and loved it. The collection extends the concerns of that poem (race, violence, representation) and adds others (e.g., sexuality).

Favorite Movie for Every Year of My Life: The List

Thanks to one of my friends on facebook sharing this A.V. Club post and a list of his favorites, I spent most of my free time on Friday compiling my own list. This was hard for me. Once I get to listing and ranking, I take it seriously, so I looked at lists of films released in each of these years, made shortlists of my favorites for each year, and then, for the purposes of this list, forced myself to pick only one favorite per year. Some years were ridiculously easy (No Country for Old Men has no competition in my eyes, though I know others disagree); others were almost impossibly hard (1992, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, for instance).

I see a few patterns in my overall list. First, my favorites tend far more toward comedy and horror than I expected – and sometimes both at once (Re-Animator and Shaun of the Dead!). I chose comedy or horror over serious drama at multiple points, even when I think maybe the serious dramas are actually better films; and many other times I chose comedy or horror because I simply hadn’t seen the major dramas of that year, tending to opt for something fun rather than something heavy more often than not. Second, I am a sucker for a musical. Note the choices for 2000-2002, for instance. My runners-up for 2000 included Billy Elliot and Dancer in the Dark, to further underscore this point. Finally, I enjoy big blockbuster sf and action movies more than I usually want to admit to (Independence DayFace/Off!).

1979 – Monty Python’s Life of Brian, dir. Terry Jones
1980 – 9 to 5, dir. Colin Higgins
1981 – An American Werewolf in London, dir. John Landis
1982 – The Thing, dir. John Carpenter
1983 – Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, dir. Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
1984 – Ghostbusters, dir. Ivan Reitman
1985 – Re-Animator, dir. Stuart Gordon
1986 – The Fly, dir. David Cronenberg
1987 – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, dir. John Hughes
1988 – Scrooged, dir. Richard Donner
1989 – Uncle Buck, dir. John Hughes
1990 – Edward Scissorhands, dir. Tim Burton
1991 – The Silence of the Lambs, dir. Jonathan Demme
1992 – Candyman, dir. Bernard Rose
1993 – Jurassic Park, dir. Steven Spielberg
1994 – The Hudsucker Proxy, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
1995 – Sense and Sensibility, dir. Ang Lee
1996 – Independence Day, dir. Roland Emmerich
1997 – Face/Off, dir. John Woo
1998 – The Big Lebowski, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
1999 – Galaxy Quest, dir. Dean Parisot
2000 – O Brother, Where Art Thou?, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
2001 – Moulin Rouge!, dir. Baz Luhrmann
2002 – Chicago, dir. Rob Marshall
2003 – Mystic River, dir. Clint Eastwood
2004 – Shaun of the Dead, dir. Edgar Wright
2005 – Brokeback Mountain, dir. Ang Lee
2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Toro
2007 – No Country for Old Men, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
2008 – Burn After Reading, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
2009 – Thirst, dir. Chan-wook Park
2010 – Even the Rain, dir. Iciar Bollain
2011 – Sunny, dir. Hyeong-Cheol Kang
2012 – Safety Not Guaranteed, dir. Colin Trevorrow
2013 – Snowpiercer, dir. Joon-ho Bong
2014 – The Babadook, dir. Jennifer Kent
2015 – Mad Max: Fury Road, dir. George Miller
2016 – The Witch, dir. Robert Eggers

This is my list as of this weekend, but I’m having doubts about a couple of entries, and I plan to write more about my choices – perhaps year by year – over the next couple of weeks (or months, depending on how my schedule plays out).