2017 Reading Survey

Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it . . .

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love, but didn’t:

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Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore

Most surprising (in a good way):

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That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx

Book you recommended to people most:

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Dark Money, by Jane Mayer, since it was earliest in the year, so I had the longest to talk about it. For the most part, if I was raving about a book last year, it was nonfiction and related to politics or social justice.

Favourite new author you discovered (and have now read more than one of their books):

Hiromi Kawakami and Angela Davis

Best series you discovered: 

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you:

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A Murder in Time, by Julie McElwain

Book you’re most likely to re-read next year:

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Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur

Most unputdownable:

The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin and Human Acts, by Han Kang

Favorite book cover:

Most memorable character:

Cesárea Tinajero from The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño

Most beautifully written:

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Human Acts, by Han Kang, and that includes the translation by Deborah Smith

Book that had the greatest impact on you:

There were so many and if you’ve read any of my blog for the past year you can definitely get a sense of that, so I’m not going to bother trying to pick just one, or even five. It seemed like almost everything I read last year had a huge impact on me.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read:

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Why We Can’t Wait, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Favorite passage/quote:

Quoted in Dark Money, from Isaiah Berlin:

“Total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.”

From Why We Can’t Wait:

It is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privilege voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

From Milk and Honey:

the idea that we are
so capable of love
but still choose
to be toxic

From God is Not Great:

One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs). Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think—though the connection is not a fully demonstrable one—that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell. All attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are consigned to failure and ridicule for precisely these reasons.

Shortest & longest books you read:

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Book that had a scene that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss): 

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The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro—the moment when the title phrase appears in the book.

Favorite relationship (be it romantic, friendship):

Raphael and Merrick from The Bedlam Stacks, by Natasha Pulley

Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously:

The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan
Slade House, by David Mitchell

Book you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone: 

Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake and Tonoharu, by Lars Martinson, both recommended by Jan

Newest fictional crush:

Innon from The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

Best 2017 debut:

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We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Most vivid world-building/imagery:

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

Book that was the most fun to read:

A True Novel, by Minae Mizamura
god is not Great, by Christopher Hitchens (goddamn it drives me crazy to not capitalize the first letter here and so I usually do it anyway, but this once I’ll deal with it)

Book that made you cry:

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The Fate of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

Oldest book:

Wuthering Heights, published in 1847, followed by Anna Karenina (1878) and The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State by Friedrich Engels (1884)

Favorite bookish moments:

As always, reading outside, in libraries, or with my kitty. And, more specifically, these two times when Mike and I were reading the same thing—in the first, two different Murakami novels; in the second, books one and three of the same series.

Guiltiest pleasure:

I don’t feel guilty because I make a point of variety, but certainly one of my most fun and frivolous reads this year was Bridget Jones’s Baby, by Helen Fielding.

Worst read:

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The Boat Rocker, by Ha Jin

Biggest triumph:

Well, I did read Tolstoy this year . . . But I’m much more excited about the number of books in translation I read. I’ve always loved books set in other cultures, but realized that before this year I’d read mostly English-language authors like Amy Tan, Lisa See, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Those are wonderful too, but I wanted to seek out books that were originally published in a language other than English.

Favorite reread:

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Most disturbing:

Hunger, by Roxane Gay (in a powerful way)
Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee—A Look Inside North Korea, by Jang Jin-sung
Without You, There Is No Us, by Suki Kim

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