Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022

Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022 banner. Features the 10 book covers in the background

Overall, I read 160 books in 2023. This may be the most books I’ve ever read in a year, but as always, read at the pace that suits you and for the type of books you’re reading. Most books I read were under 500 pages, and a large chunk of them were under 300 pages. Read some pamphlets!

The vast majority of the books were fiction, with only 10% nonfiction. I made reading lists for history months: Black History Month, AAPI History Month, Pride Month, and Latinx Heritage Month. What this mostly did was intentionally focus on authors or books I’d been meaning to read from my shelf. I’m a mood reader, so TBRs often don’t work for me.

My most-read “genres” were LGBTQIA+ (81 books), Romance (73), and Fantasy (51). My top-read 7 authors were Kresley Cole (9 books), Mariko Tamaki and Ngozi Ukazu (6), Katee Robert and Tui T. Sutherland (5), and Adriana Herrera and Ilona Andrews (4). I really got into Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, and I’ll likely finish everything in the unfinished series in 2024. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022”

Looking for Romance… Books?

Books covers for my top 5 books

I read 70+ romances this year, and here are my top 5 (so far).

My StoryGraph account says the genre I’ve read the most is LGBTQ+ books, but that’s not a real category, as it can encapsulate almost every type of book out there. Instead, what I’ve become is a romance reader.

If you’re unsure where you might start with romance — or if you’re looking to get a gift for a romance reader — here are my five favorite romances from this year (so far).

Almost all of them are contemporary romances, with one being historical. Four of them feature queer characters. Four of them are spicy (sex on-page), and one, the couple doesn’t even kiss due to their Muslim faith.

But all of them present some of the best writing in romance with strong characters, careful building of tension and relationships, and an ending that nails it. Continue reading “Looking for Romance… Books?”

The Trans Rights Readathon Results

Trans Rights Readathon Campaign Results Thank you! $3,050 raised for Trans Lifeline 30 donors 7 books read and book covers

Sometimes, even I forget that I can do something.

On Monday, the Trans Rights Readathon came to a close. I’m over the moon to report that we raised $3,050 for Trans Lifeline, a trans-led nonprofit that provides peer support and microgrants for trans people.

30 donors, plus myself, pledged to either pay per book I read during that week or made a flat donation to my campaign. I read a total of 7 books by trans authors.

My book list:

❤️ The Unbalancing by RB Lemberg (fantasy)
🧡 Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise (YA romance comic)
💛 Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, edited by Joamette Gil (YA fantasy comics)
💚 Your Body is Not Your Body: An Anthology, edited by Alex Woodroe and Matt Blairstone (horror short stories)
💙 Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander (contemporary romance)
💜 The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (literary fiction)
🖤 Whipping Girl by Julia Serano (nonfiction gender/queer studies)

The Trans Rights Readathon was a decentralized campaign kicked off by author Sim Kern, and anyone could join to read books by/about trans people and donate money to trans causes. Continue reading “The Trans Rights Readathon Results”

How Do You Read So Much?

A large library of bookshelves filled with books ending with a window with a window seat. All two-toned white and green

Reading pace and how I think about the quantity of what I read.

Reading pace is highly individualized, and each book may deserve a different pace. I can read some books in a single night, and some take me years.

Right now, I’m reading Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene,(1) which explores the historical and current foodways that led to African-American/Southern cuisine. The book isn’t a light read as Twitty traces Southern food back to the realities of chattel slavery and uses his family history as a guiding light. The chapters are dense. Some of the chapters depict the worst horrors humans inflicted on other humans.

I find myself reading it slowly. I find myself pausing. I find myself rereading passages. When Twitty lists out ethnic groups, ancestors’ names, geographic places (present or historical), or foods, and I find myself glazing over, I stop and go back. Because the people who were enslaved deserve that respect, unlike the fictional kings of Westeros, whose fictional names and places I will skim or skip.(2)

Again, The Cooking Gene is a good book. It’s just not an “easy” read for me. Nor should it be, and it’s okay that I’m not reading it at my “usual” pace.

The start of rethinking my reading

As an English major in college, my ability to knuckle down and get through a book came in handy. I always read the assigned readings in college.(3) My reading was seasoned in the fire of reading Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and James Joyce’s Ulysses (and the book explaining Ulysses) for two different literature courses in the same semester.

But in my free time, I found myself unable to read books. Continue reading “How Do You Read So Much?”

Books I Read in 2022 & Think You Should Read in 2023

2022 was a whopper of a year. I spent less time than ever watching TV and film; I mostly filled those hours reading more books, writing, and taking care of plants. I went on a lot of walks too.

Overall, I read 126 books in 2022, with reading as my primary entertainment source. I’m a consistent reader, not a quick reader, and this does not count the many times I’ve reread my own unpublished writing or the writing of others.

What matters most in reading is that you enjoy it. Goals help me, but they may not work for you, and I wanted to read this year 45 books that were already sitting on my to-read shelves at the end of last year. I also started recording TikTok book reviews. I love reviewing books, but I want to keep myself from putting in excessive labor and making a PROJECT out of something fun.

I feel like I need to DNF more books I’m not enjoying. Maybe I’ve grown pickier over time, or I realize that I can only read so many per year.

I signed the harper-collins union pledge, image with a hand holding a pencil in solidarity Some of these books are published by Harper-Collins. Since the beginning of November, the Harper-Collins Union has been on strike. They’re on strike for living wages and diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Union has asked book reviewers not to post reviews of HC books, but for end-of-year lists, they have made an exception as long as we support the Union! Sign their letter or donate funds to help these workers.

For 2023, I’ll have another 100 book goal, but more importantly, 50 more books off my shelf purchased in 2022 or earlier.

My Top 10 Books from 2022

Continue reading “Books I Read in 2022 & Think You Should Read in 2023”

The Dearth of Working-Class Queer Novels

Books on their side with page texturing showing - dark green shaded

A gap in our reality and imaginations remains and disadvantages the realities for many queer people.

For many decades, queer people in the US flocked to NYC and San Francisco as a refuge against homophobia and transphobia. As a teen in the 1990s, my best friend would tell me about her NYC dreams. They were important, safe places for us, and queer narratives are full of dreams of those two cities. I relocated from rural Oregon to Seattle for my safety and security. In my hometown, the first openly queer and trans city councilor recently resigned due to racism, transphobia, and homophobia. (They were also the first person of color on the city council.)

But 30 years later, US-based LGBTQ+ stories stay confined to major cities and center on white cis gay men and lesbians who are either comfortably middle class or upper class. The Will & Grace NYC-based characters were lawyers, interior designers, and actors who lived in multi-million dollar condos. In the current re-imagining of The L Word: Generation Q, even broke characters always bounce back with robust family and friend support, and many are still incredibly wealthy: wearing designer clothing, flying private planes, buying a nightclub on a whim, hiding away in vacation mansions, etc., in Los Angeles. Very few break this mold, like P-Valley and (I believe, but haven’t watched myself) the recent reboot of Queer as Folk.

The political realities of LGBTQ+ people and class

It’s not surprising that, after 2016, the New York Times couldn’t find a single queer person in rural or “red” America. LGBTQ+ political issues were for the “coastal elites.” Clearly, every queer person had escaped or would escape these terrible places!

US class statistics show more working-class and low-income LGBTQ+ people than not. Continue reading “The Dearth of Working-Class Queer Novels”

Falling Out of Love with Superheroes

Me as She-Hulk and other images

It’s me, not you?

The Thanksgiving before Captain Marvel (2019), my friends and dinner guests all turned to me and asked, “Who the heck is Captain Marvel?” I spent the next 30 minutes regaling them with the history of Carol Danvers — her high-points and low-points — and answering their many related questions, especially on my movie-focus speculation and which other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters might show up.

No pre-game Wikipedia is necessary when you have me for a friend.

My relationship with superhero comic books was intense. From 2007 to 2020, I wrote comic book reviews. I founded GeekGirlCon, a nonprofit that throws an annual convention celebrating women geeks, including those who love comic books. I’ve spent thousands on comic books, movie tickets, DVDs, action figures, artwork, clothing, coasters, blankets, and bottle openers featuring superheroes. I’ve cosplayed as Alice (Batwoman’s sister), the Winter Soldier, Emma Frost, She-Hulk, and Wonder Woman, among others, and attended as many comic cons as I could. Summer of 2007, I was three feet away from Robert Downey Jr. — who then was just my favorite Ally McBeal boyfriend — on the SDCC show floor as security escorted him to his Marvel signing booth.

Superheros and their superpowers delight me because perhaps, like Jen Walters (She-Hulk), I’m just a tiny and non-physically powerful human who desires to become on the outside what I am on the inside. Maybe I wasn’t thinking of that in 3rd grade, as my mom made me and my brother Batgirl and Batman costumes. Yes, Batman Returns (1992), specifically Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, was my sexual awakening. (I’m sure I asked my mom for a Catwoman costume, but that would’ve been rightfully too sexy for a child.) Continue reading “Falling Out of Love with Superheroes”

Books I Read in 2021 & Think You Should Read in 2022

Nothing has brought me more comfort in my life as a good book, and almost nothing has brought me more joy than when someone enjoys a book I recommended to them.

In 2021, I read 101 books, and I’ve consistently read around ~22,000 pages for the last several years. Of course, this does not count the many times I read my own book as I went through rewrites and edits or the pleasure of reading my friend Max’s unpublished first novel.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many books you read in a year, only that you are reading and you are enjoying what you read. Goals help me. My primary goal was to read at least 40 books I’d had on the to-read shelves since 2020.

For my friends who struggle to read books:

Whatever reading assignment made you hate reading in school, don’t do that. You can stop reading a book at any time, say, “Not today, Satan,” and put the book in a free little library because it might be someone else’s cup of tea.

Can’t focus: try audiobooks. That’s reading too!

And perhaps, most importantly, carve out time for reading. I read before I sleep, and it helps me sleep better. But my favorite reading is stolen moments when I cannot put the book down, and I’m supposed to be doing something else (usually working or doing chores).

Now, for my reader readers, maybe we challenge ourselves with “assignment” reading. For me, it’s usually work-related or self-improvement or a worthwhile book, but the text is dense or the prose style different than we’re used to. Sometimes, I might take notes! Other times, it’s one chapter at a time, and then I can go back to reading cotton candy fun.

Especially since we’re still in this terrible pandemic, it’s perfectly acceptable to put a book down. Maybe it goes in the Did Not Finish pile to get rid of — or maybe you march it right out to your little library in front of your house (oh, hi, it’s me) — or maybe it goes on pause as you read something else for a while. A while can be a couple of days or six months.

Okay, let’s get to those books.

My Top 10 Books from 2021

1. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Detransition, Baby by Torrey PetersGenre: contemporary fiction

In his essay, “Smaller Than Life,” James Baldwin reviews a biography of Fredrick Douglass, and he argues that the book is terrible, not because it’s poorly written, but because it doesn’t show Douglass in all of his humanity with all his flaws. Thus, turning Douglass into a heroic representation of his race instead of a human with whom people can empathize, especially people who are not Black and especially white people. Baldwin argues that this heroification does an incredible disservice to Douglass and the project of racial equity.

I think about this essay a lot in terms of my writing and the types of books I’m drawn to, such as the book in question: Detransition, Baby. Baldwin’s assertion certainly applies to any minority group. The characters and situation in Detransition, Baby are messy. They don’t apologize to cishet people. They are very human, and none of them are or can be a heroification of a trans woman or the model of what it means to a woman. They just are. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2021 & Think You Should Read in 2022”

Books I Read in 2018 & Think You Should Read in 2019

In 2018, I hit 100 books read, just under the wire. I opened and ended the year reading trade paperbacks of Saga, volumes 8 and 9 respectively.

I also attempted to do a book a week (52 books) challenge. I made it 33 weeks, or 63% in my completion of this challenge. I, of course, read comic books too, and a few other books. I stretched myself to review the challenge books, which I ended up finding a bit too daunting and slowing down my progress.

I’ve upped my level of grading — on a 1-5 scale — and what I consider a 5 vs a 4 vs a 3. I had far less 5 star books in 2018, and it wasn’t because I read less books.

My goal #1 in 2018 was to read more full prose and less comic books, success. Goal #2 was to clean up my comic to-read pile. I feel failed at that after I got sick this summer.

This year, I’m looking to read 100 books again, and I’d like 40 of them to be books I already own. My single issue comic book pile does not count, but graphic novels and all my other books do.

Here are my book recommendations for those I gave 5 stars to in 2018:

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles1. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

Genre: pink lions who don’t wear pants, personal is political, 1950s, comics
Recommended for: those who felt everything in 2018

Impactful. Exit Stage Left was impactful and left a mark each time I read it. I smiled. I cried. I felt things. This book follows Snagglepuss who navigates the Cold War as basically Tennessee Williams. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2018 & Think You Should Read in 2019”

Shit I Read in 2014 & Think You Should Read in 2015

If you haven’t already read them that is. 🙂

In 2014, I focused on reading books that I already owned, with the exception of new comics, and that were already sitting on my shelves. I bought less books than other years, and my shelves, like the melting ice caps, have migrated to even more books read. That was my small win.

Goodreads says that I read 96 books in 2014. I probably read more than that because I’ve been shit at tracking the new comics (when they finally come out in graphic novel format) that I’ve read. Not to mention, not all comics are collected in graphic novels.

Here’s some amazing stuff you should read too:


Lumberjanes Vol. 11. Lumberjanes Vol. 1
by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen

Genre: YA comics, Feminist comics, Holy Kittens
Recommended for: EVERYONE

This comic book filled my feminist heart with glee. I know, I rated a comic book number one, but yes, it is that good. Lumberjanes is about a group of teenage girls at camp, and they are — next to the Pawnee Goddess — my favorite group of fictional girl scouts. The girls come from diverse backgrounds, and they solve the supernatural mysteries of the camp with their unique skills and friendship.

Plus, Lumberjanes has catchy phrases like “Friendship to the max!” and “Holy bell hooks!” I do love a catch phrase. It’s pretty rare to see a book filled with girls, much less girls valued for their brains and brawn and who love and care deeply for each other. Lumberjanes reminded me of my very best times with my female friends.

In early 2014, Lumberjanes was the book pointed out by privileged comic book dudes to be ruining comic books for them. I’m pleased to say it lives up to its hype, and it’s done so well that Lumberjanes is now an on-going series, determined to ruin comics forever.


Sister Outsider2. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
by Audre Lorde

Genre: Intersectional feminist essays, Quotable poets
Recommended for: EVERYONE (adults)

Why hadn’t I read this before now? The main question I kept asking myself over and over when reading Sister Outsider.

When I was a child, I spent lots of time in Catholic and Lutheran churches and around people who found great comfort in the Bible and its teachings. (Personally, it either bored, enraged, scared, or seemed like common sense to my younger self.) But if I had to pick text which moved, comforted, and expanded me in the same way, it would Sister Outsider. Continue reading “Shit I Read in 2014 & Think You Should Read in 2015”