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books/readings

year-end reading recap

I read 80 books this year. That makes it an above-average year for me. I’m not posting this to brag. I know people who have read many more books; I know people who have read far fewer books. I’m putting it here because it feels worth recording in some way.

Most of these books were great. Some of them were incredible. Some of them sucked. Most of them were written before 2020, some well before 2020; I am usually lagging behind a bit for my dependence on the trusty ol’ library ebooks.

Giving this a handful of brain cells before I go off to bed, it looks like fiction beat out nonfiction by 58 to 32. Most of the nonfiction was about technology, race, or both. It’s kind of tough to isolate top genres for fiction, though I’d say I picked up more sci-fi than usual for me. Women, nonbinary people, and people of color definitely beat out the cis white males, which was somewhat intentional but, let’s be honest, pretty easy to do when you’re looking for something good to read. (I briefly picked up Joshua Cohen’s 2015 Book of Numbers this year which had me recoiling in horror with its pretentious MFA bro-iness by page 30 or so.)

If I had to pick a number one book that was actually written in 2020, I’d go with Such a Fun Age, which I think actually came out on December 31, 2019 but let’s just let it slide, lol. Darkly witty, deeply awkward, and unflinchingly accurate, it was a perfect tale for our times, even moreso as I gobbled up its clever soapyness in a lonely quarantined world.

I’m not sure what my 81st book read in 2020 will be, but I’m feeling pretty drawn to Wendy Liu’s Abolish Silicon Valley, awaiting me in print form (my library’s copy, no less). As shitty as this year was, I’m grateful I had the time and stability to read as much as I did, and for the fact that my brain still finds so much solace in the written word. Books got me through, folks. Whatever got you through was the right thing for you.

Top 8 2020 releases (that I’ve read so far):
Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
My Dark Vanessa, Kate Elizabeth Russell
Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey
Lakewood, Megan Giddings
A Black Women’s History of the United States, Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross
Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas
Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey
Pretty Things, Janelle Brown

Top 6 fiction:
Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
My Dark Vanessa, Kate Elizabeth Russell
The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne
Caucasia, Danzy Senna
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
The Pisces, Melissa Broder

Top 5 nonfiction:
Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks
Dark Matters: On the Blackness of Surveillance, Simone Browne
Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey
Race After Technology, Ruha Benjamin
Superior, Angela Saini

Top 5 that taught me the most:
The Charisma Machine, Morgan Ames
The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
This Land is Their Land, David J. Silverman
A Black Women’s History of the United States, Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross
The End of Policing, Alex S. Vitale

Top 5 that will probably have the most significant and/or lasting impact on me:
Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber
How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell

5 best audiobooks:
Catch & Kill, Ronan Farrow
Invisible Women, Caroline Criado-Perez
Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil

The complete list:

  1. Invisible Women, Caroline Criado-Perez
  2. Ghost Work, Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri
  3. Artifical Unintelligence, Meredith Broussard
  4. Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil
  5. Sorry I’m Late (I Didn’t Want to Come), Jessica Pan
  6. Permanent Record, Edward Snowden
  7. Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks
  8. The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton
  9. How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell
  10. How to Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi
  11. The Charisma Machine, Morgan Ames
  12. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
  13. A Woman is No Man, Etaf Rum
  14. Hunger, Roxane Gay
  15. Race After Technology, Ruha Benjamin
  16. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Jaron Lanier
  17. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  18. Pretty Things, Janelle Brown
  19. Dark Matters: On the Blackness of Surveillance, Simone Browne
  20. The Story of Arthur Truluv, Elizabeth Berg
  21. Confession Club, Elizabeth Berg
  22. Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg
  23. Night of Miracles, Elizabeth Berg
  24. Caucasia, Danzy Senna
  25. The Giver, Lois Lowry (reread)
  26. Are Prisons Obsolete?, Angela Davis
  27. The End of Policing, Alex S. Vitale
  28. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
  29. The Chain, Adrian McKinty
  30. Emergent Strategy, adrenne maree brown
  31. Superior, Angela Saini
  32. Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan
  33. Hollow Kingdom, Kira Jane Buxton
  34. Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble
  35. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (reread)
  36. Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey
  37. The Murmur of Bees, Sofia Segovia
  38. The Butterfly Lampshade, Aimee Bender
  39. Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener
  40. The Yellow House, Sarah Broom
  41. My Dark Vanessa, Kate Elizabeth Russell
  42. A Place For Us, Fatima Farheen Mirza
  43. Britt-Marie Was Here, Fredrik Backman
  44. The Pisces, Melissa Broder
  45. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (re-read)
  46. Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler (re-read)
  47. Redefining Realness, Janet Mock
  48. The Dearly Beloved, Cara Wall
  49. Get a Life Chloe Brown, Talia Hibbert
  50. Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey
  51. The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
  52. Today We Go Home, Kelli Estes
  53. Lakewood, Megan Giddings
  54. The Whale & the Reactor, Langdon Winner
  55. Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
  56. A Black Women’s History of the United States, Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross
  57. So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
  58. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Erika Sanchez
  59. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
  60. The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez
  61. The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
  62. The Color of Water, James McBride
  63. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  64. The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock, Dave Thompson
  65. Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss
  66. Her Body & Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
  67. Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas
  68. Catch & Kill, Ronan Farrow
  69. Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi
  70. Pet, Akwaeke Emezi
  71. Luster, Raven Leilani
  72. Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
  73. The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne
  74. Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
  75. Wow, No Thank You, Samantha Irby
  76. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (reread)
  77. This Land is Their Land, David J. Silverman
  78. Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber
  79. Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart
  80. On Bullshit, Harry G. Frankfurt
  81. Ring Shout, P. Djeli Clark

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