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?”

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”

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”

Consent and The Lovely Bones: a Book Review

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Rating: 2/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a book with a “y” somewhere in the title

Lovely Bones book cover

This freaking book — I waffled on what to rate it and I ended up rating it the lowest of my zillion Goodreads friends who’ve also read it. Because I tend to read comic books that are badly marketed, distributed, and have like no reviews, when I do read a “popular” book, it can be an odd experience. Like will someone call me out for not liking it? Not that Goodreads is call out culture…yet…maybe if they fixed their interface and put it on faster Amazon servers.

The Lovely Bones is set in the late 1970s and about Susie Salmon, a girl who’s murdered by her neighbor and serial killer. Continue reading “Consent and The Lovely Bones: a Book Review”

A Menagerie of Three Stars: Mini Reviews

Ah, the three star, right in the middle. Some three stars books are there because they’re slightly disappointing. Others get three stars because they’re interesting and decent, but not quite great. They may even be the start of a series I will enjoy greatly, but they’re by first time novelists or finding their footing.

My late 2018 summer reading was full of three out of five stars. And let me be clear, all of these books, I’m very likely to continue reading the series (if applicable) and following the author’s work. Continue reading “A Menagerie of Three Stars: Mini Reviews”

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”

The Hate U Give: A Great American Novel

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: 2017 Goodreads Choice Award

Review contains no spoilers you wouldn’t find on the back of the book or in the upcoming movie trailer.

My post-The Color of Money read was supposed to be “light.” Hahahaha. This is what I get for never reading the backs of books as they can be spoilery. In many ways, The Hate U Give is a great complimentary read to The Color of Money.

This fictional book is about being a black teenage girl in today’s America, and it deals with layers of identity, trauma, growing up, and current societal ills. Thomas’ writing is so engaging, and I definitely stayed up too late to continue reading.

Starr was an incredibly easy main character to like and care about. I both personally, through lived experiences, understood Starr’s trauma so deeply — we both lost close friends as teens to hate (albeit in different ways) — and didn’t at all — my white privilege. I loved her family, and how she learned about her voice. Continue reading “The Hate U Give: A Great American Novel”

The Many Lives of Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura

Beyond Uhura by Nichelle NicholsBeyond Uhura by Nichelle Nichols
Rating: 4/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a biography

Nichols is an incredible person. Full stop. I’m so glad I read this book, and I recommend it to anyone who’s a Star Trek fan, interested in Nichols’ life, or generally curious about Hollywood and performing from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Let me tell you, Nichols leads a life.

Beyond Uhura was published in 1994 when Nichols was 62. This was an interesting period in Star Trek history because creator Gene Roddenberry had just died; it was clear there would be no more Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) movies; Nichols and other cast members had started publicly talking about William Shatner (TOS’ James T. Kirk) being a shithead; and many TOS actors wrote or would write autobiographies in this decade.

Nichols is a clear storyteller. And you can see how the stories presented here are the stories she tells herself about her life, her career, and her worldview. These I’m sure are mostly the stories she’d honed from the 1970s to Beyond Uhura’s writing on the convention circuit and in interviews. Though I will never say no to hearing again the story of how Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her not to quit TOS. Continue reading “The Many Lives of Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura”

Rural Queer Girls in the Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a book that has been made into a movie

I have to stop reading books that remind me too much of my childhood. This story centered around Cameron, a tween/teenager growing up queer in rural Montana in the late 80s/early 90s. Cameron is about seven or eight years older than me and my rural hometown was more populous, but wow, the little cultural connections and relations I made while reading this were numerous.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post starts off slowly. I had a hard time getting immediately swept into the narrative, perhaps because it did remind me of small town Oregon. Where you spend your days outside with the girl you have a crush on. However, unlike Cameron, my crushes (except one) never panned out to be actual queer girls. Continue reading “Rural Queer Girls in the Miseducation of Cameron Post”