I don’t usually do reviews, but I might be changing that and this was a great book to maybe start the trend. I’m not going to waste time with bad reviews, so I’ll be only posting the books I really loved. I read Difficult Women both as a print galley as well as in digital format. It’s out January 3rd! Go get it.
The women in Roxane Gay’s recent short story collection are indeed difficult women. They are real women. They are multidimensional and flawed. As usual, Gay is able to use her talent to give distinctive voices to each woman in their respective stories. Once again I’m floored by how visceral her writing is, in the best way possible. These short stories make you feel a barrage of emotions, from discomfort to grief, to pity, to empathy and everything in between.
Independent Bookstore Day which started out as California Bookstore Day last year is a day to celebrate our indie bookstores. Last year I made it late and missed out on a lot of the specialty items. This year I got to my favorite indie Bookshop Santa Cruz at opening.
They had lots of great things planned. They had a wheel of prizes where I won a book on California by a local author and participated in a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt gave me a moment of pause in the category asking for a classic I’d never heard of, but I prevailed! I wasn’t able to do the literary trivia, but I think my speculative fiction book club ladies are down for it next year.
I came home with some nifty stuff, especially the Roxane Gay book which had been my main goal. I also bought some fuck socks inspired by Christopher Moore’s Fool. There are there three socks included to cut down on that blasted lost sock problem. Also some snarky tea towels which I’m almost not wanting to use. I didn’t realize Roxane Gay’s book would be autographed which made it extra special!
Did you participate in Independent Bookstore Day? What stores did you go to? What awesome loot did you come home with?
Jezebel just started a video series ‘in which Hillary Crosley Coker trails interesting and kick-ass women as they navigate this thing called life.’ The first guest was trans activist, author, and the all around awesome Janet Mock (fun fact: I walked in the SF Pride Parade last year and she was the Grand Marshal).
So I was thinking which bookish broads would I like to see interviewed. This list is just the beginning so blow up the comments section with others you’d like to see as well.
*Roxane Gay – It’s no secret that I love her. So a whole interview? Bring it on.
*Toni Morrison – This feels like a gimme. Of course Hillary should interview TMo.
*Mallory Ortberg- She’s hilarious and talented and does amazing commentary with classic paintings featuring the ladies.
*Kelley Sue DeConnick – Comics count too! KS is a freaking powerhouse and is making awesome things happen with comics like most recently Bitch Planet.
*G.Willow Wilson- We can’t leave her out. It’s not fucking allowed. Not only a great novel writer (Alif the Unseen) she also writes the Ms. Marvel comics.
*Jennifer Weiner – Genre always gets left out. JW is a champion for the ladies getting love in literary circles and not only writes some great books, but also has on point The Bachelor live tweeting skills .
*Seanan McGuire – I just love what this lady does. She just helped kickstart Queers Destroy Science Fiction and writes in a variety of genres.
*Jacqueline Woodson – Just won so many awards for Brown Girl Dreaming which might have changed my mind about poetry.
I am making my vow right here. Next year I’m going to do better at writing this blog. I’m not sure I want to put a definite amount of times a week I’m going to be posting, but I have to do better than what I’m doing now.
Here we are in December and I’m on my second stretch goal. This year didn’t go as planned in the sense that I made goals that were ridiculously overambitious in the sense that I was trying to read a lot of the bigger, tougher books. Nothing wrong with that, but it took on the guise of being ‘assigned reading’ at that point. I ditched the list about halfway through the year and while I ‘missed out’ on some, I picked up some amazing books this year that were so much fun or that are going to stick with me in one way or another. For the sake of clarity I’m going divide my favorite books between books published this year and backlist.
Books published in 2014
An Untamed State and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. For me, this was the Year of Roxane. She rocked my world with both these books in two completely different ways. I can’t take about one without talking about the other. An Untamed State was breathtaking. I had to remind myself to breathe the whole time I was reading it which I did in one sitting because I couldn’t bear to put it down. Bad Feminist is one that spoke to my ideals. I want to give a copy of this one to everyone I know.
Station Eleven by Emily Mandel. I was resistant to this one because I generally don’t do the whole dystopia thing as a rule, but Station Eleven was so much more than that. Mandel really delved into the plight of humanity instead of focusing on the event of the flu epidemic.
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I had to force myself to put TQotT down so I could savor it. I’m anxiously awaiting book two of the trilogy. Strong female protagonist, strong world building, and a gripping plot all made it work for me.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I listened to this on audio and she made me almost want to go back and binge on Parks and Rec (my husband and I are probably the last people to watch it). She’s amazing and inspirational.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriques. Can we have more books about the immigration experience like this? I need to go back and read everything in Henriques’s backlist now.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. My husband introduced me to The Princess Bride when we first started dating. My parents were more rom coms and Stallone type action movies. I was an instant fan so I felt pretty great getting the audio narrated by the Cary Elwes and the surviving cast (except Mandy Patinkin and Fred Savage). We loved the hell out of this. It’s a great bit of nostalgia where you relive great moments but find out there was more going on than you realized. The bits about Andre the Giant were the best.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie. I also read Half of a Yellow Sun and watched Achidie’s TedTalks. I know I said it was the Year of Roxane, but I would be remiss in also naming it the year of Achidie as well in terms of making me think of things in a different, better way.
Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe. I credit this trade in getting me into comics. something I always wanted to do, but was super intimidated by. Rat Queens led me to Saga, Sex Criminals, The Wicked and the Divine, among many others that have been fun to lose an afternoon in.
The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. So much fun. A fantasy series that has amazing world building, strong interesting characters and my new favorite quote. “A boy may be as disagreeable as he pleases, but when a girl refuses to crap sunshine on command, the world mutters darkly about her moods.”
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I had read American Gods last year, but Neverwhere was amazing. Coupled with the BBC radio performance starring James MacAvoy, I was blown away by the fantastical characters and setting.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. To be honest, the way Julie Otsuka wrote this threw me off at first; first person plural is a rare method, but it brought the book together nicely. I couldn’t help, but be drawn into the plight of the women in the story.
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. I love books about books. This is a gem of a book that isn’t that well known as far as I know. It made me want to buy a bus and fill it with books and drive around the United States.
I also kept up on a lot of series that are auto buy for me. I wasn’t disappointed in any of the newest installations of any of them. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye and InCryptid series, the last book in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, and Chloe Neil’s Chicagoland Vampires all were everything I have come to expect from them.
I really don’t want to talk about the disappointments I’ve had in books. The good far outweighed the bad this year. I did better about not forcing myself to finish books I wasn’t connecting with. I’m seven books away from finishing my stretch goal of 300. I’m thinking I’m going do some rereading since the month tends to get busy with Christmas and vacations. Next post I want to tackle next year’s goals and books I’m looking forward to. So get your thinking caps on now for yours as well.
What were some of your favorite books this year, either backlist or published this year?
This is kind of a Literary Loot. It’s a t-shirt Literary Loot for BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay. I have a confession. I have a weakness for bookish shirts as well as t-shirts from my local restaurants and hangouts. This is the latest addition. I meant to post it earlier. I kind of did on Twitter. I love it so hard. My only problem I found when I wore it? The people who have no idea and think it’s about not being a feminist and are thrilled. I don’t have time to stop and explain how awesome her book is and how it’s about not being perfect. Oh well, totally worth it.
Autobuys is about books that I am already having on preorder or definitely planning on buying.
August is a good time for my weakness which I call snark and violence otherwise known as Urban Fantasy. It’s not high brow I know, but I’m not going to apologize for it either. Like Amy Bloom’s answer to ‘what books are you embarrassed you haven’t read,’ “I’m a grown woman.” Me too, Ms. Bloom. This is going to be a fun month for being a grown woman.
Blood Games by Chloe Neill (Aug 5)
Chloe Neill is the epitome of snark and violence for me so I’m totally looking forward to the latest in her Chicagoland Vampires series.
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (Aug 5)
I flat out loved An Untamed State and then I started following Gay on Twitter. What a freaking treat that is. I look forward to reading her Ina Garten live tweeting, her romantic unrequited relationship with her UPS man, and really everything she tweets. Bad Feminist is something I want in my hot little hands yesterday.
Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells (Aug 11)
Another contender for the S&V crown Cursed Moon is the sophomore installment in Well’s newest series that combines urban fantasy with crime procedural.
The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory (Aug 14)
I adore Gregory. I have sense I discovered The Other Boleyn Girl and quickly read her backlist. I’m anxiously awaiting the last in her Cousins’ War series.
Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Aug 19)
I devoured Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series and have faithfully followed her into her latest Cainsville series. While nothing like her previous urban fantasy series, Cainsville is a mix of part fantasy, part mystery and I like it.
The Wicked + The Divine #3 by Kieron Gillen (Aug 20)
Comics are books dammit and I’m reading this. It’s on my pull list so I’ll be driving my happy ass there to pick it up probably the next day. This one is about gods who become pop stars every ninety years only to die two years later.
Rat Queens #8 by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Aug 20)
Let’s just assume every month I’m going to put TW+TD and this one in my autobuys. Otherwise it’ll get old really quick. But now you know. This series about a group of kick ass warrior women who have zero fucks to give and you need to be reading it now. The newest cover isn’t available, but here they are in their awesome glory.
There are probably some others that will be bought, but these are my pregame. Any books that you have preordered or will automatically buy?