6 Books I Loved This Year
I need to confess something: This year I read less than last year — and probably than the year before that. I found it harder to…
I need to confess something: This year I read less than last year — and probably than the year before that. I found it harder to concentrate. During the second half of the year, I finished a major revision of my manuscript and I couldn’t bear looking at words anymore, unless I absolutely needed to (i.e. for work).
I also started taking on more hobbies outside of reading (!) and found myself gravitating toward visual, tactile activities. I needed a break! And that’s okay.
That being said, I love a good year-end book round-up. For this list of books I loved, I focused on books that were released this year; it’s not a comprehensive list but more of a highlight reel. These books inspired my own personal growth and craft.
1. Brown Neon
Raquel writes intelligently and beautifully about art, and has been an important figure for me in my own writing for years now. “Brown Neon” is an “art butch memoir, part ekphrastic travel diary, part queer family tree.” It’s tender, honest and thought-provoking. The desert plays a large role in these essays, along with borders, visual art/visual language and heartbreak. Just like the desert, “Brown Neon” is expansive.
2. Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min
My dear friend Lio Min wrote a YA novel unlike any I’ve read in the past few years — music, art, chosen family, creative dreams and more come together in this romance. Yes, it’s about growing pains and feeling seen, but it’s also about what it means to be an artistic person in a confusing world. Lio’s writing always inspires me and this book is no exception.
3. Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho
I will always read more books on friendship, and “Fiona and Jane” definitely made it to the top of my list this year. It’s messy and complicated — so, also relatable and complex. It was the type of book I was sad to put down when I finished reading it.
4. Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith
I admire writers who can weave the personal with the research-driven, and Danyel Smith does that expertly in this book. I learned so much about music history and also reflected on how music shapes our attitudes about the world. Danyel takes us through her childhood through the present, weaving in her experiences in media. There’s clearly so much more to the story, and I hope Danyel gives us another book soon.
5. Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades
Remember how I love books about friendship? This one hit me hard, with its third-person “we” narrative that captured a group of friends growing up in Queens. Rarely have I felt so seen by a group of characters as they move through adolescence and adulthood, asking themselves what life they truly want to live.
6. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems by Warsan Shire
There’s a poem in this book that I cannot stop thinking about (“Bless This House”), and that’s a testament to Warsan Shire’s writing in this collection overall. It’s the type of book I find myself compelled to read out loud. It’s also a book that reminded me to tap into anger a little more often, to write about the things that seem too heavy but can be made lighter when you set them ablaze.
7. Weightless by Evette Dionne
Evette is an incredible writer and editor and I couldn’t wait to read her newest book. We first connected through Bitch magazine and I think she deserves all the things! Start by reading this necessary, unflinching book that dives into how pop culture, health, dating, politics and more are deeply affected by fatphobia. It’s a really important look at how much it shapes everything from our most private moments to public policy decisions.