Mon, Feb. 22nd, 2010, 02:42 pm || 2009 books write up

add to memories

This is embarrassingly late even for Lunar New Year. I'm hoping "better late than never" still applies.

As with sequential art, I totally sucked at writing things up this year. Grad school: worst time suck ever! Sadly, this means I haven't reviewed almost half of the books on my best-of list. As usual, the list of books here are my favorites read in 2009, not published 2009. And in fact, I have some books on the list that are being published this year, thanks to the wonder of ARCs.

This year, I continued to do , despite completely failing to post at the comm. I think I was doing better in terms of percentages than I was last year, and then I hit November, school started really sucking, and all I could read were historical romances, which are super White. As such, I have roughly the same percentages of women and POC read this year as I did last year. At least there was no backsliding?

I feel like I should say something more intelligent about what I was reading, except I don't think I was a particularly intelligent reader this year.

Anything not linked in the giant list has not been written up; feel free to ask me about anything in the comments.

  • Kim Anderson, A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood: As the subtitle notes, this is about Native women and their identities, past to future. Although the content of the book was extremely helpful for me, one of the things I liked most is Anderson's introduction, in which she directly addresses the reader and asks them why they are reading the book. It was particularly refreshing after a lot of grad school sociology, which always seemed to ask the reader to be an objective observer and take on the view from nowhere. Anderson explicitly rejects that, which makes me trust her much more as a reader.


  • M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: The Kingdom on the Waves: This isn't as surprising as the first book, but it more than makes up for it with its discussion of story and narrative and why it matters. It's hard to say more without spoiling the first book, so I will simply say that my favorite parts of this book are on how Octavian both fits and doesn't fit in his newly found community and the contniued critique of aspects of history many USians don't think about.


  • Minister Faust, From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain: A brilliant but extremely painful read. Faust uses the celebrity psychology book to satirize superhero comics, but this is the first of its kind that doesn't feel like a retread of Watchmen. Faust brings in a lot of racial critique, and though I laughed a lot while reading this book, I winced even more. I do wish there had been more women of color in the narrative, but overall, this is a great deconstruction of White privilege.


  • Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon's Arms: I loved this book so much. It has POC-POC friendships, older women having sex without being made fun of, magic tied in with menopause, and alternate family structures. Although the main character is homophobic, I didn't feel that the book was, and overall, Hopkinson makes me feel positive about so many things that the media and society tend to portray negatively. This is what I wish so much more of speculative fiction looked like, what should be instead of what is.


  • N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: And just in time, since the book comes out in three days (I read an ARC). Read sample chapters! Not only do I love having more POC in fantasy, but I also love having epic fantasy that includes gods, myths, and court intrigue. Jemisin's prose is gorgeous, her gods are powerful and frightening, and her world is a fascinating one. Recommended especially people who love books with intrigue galore, dangerous secrets, and people never quite saying what they mean.


  • Many Ly, Roots and Wings: Cambodian Americans in YA! This is lovely, deceptively simple book about grief, community, and inter-generational conflict. I particularly liked that the heroine is the third generation, not the usual second generation that tends to dominate in YA books, and although the book is partially about her identity as a Cambodian American, it is much more about family and loss and the weight of history.


  • Ramesh Menon, The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering: I feel extremely strange putting something as significant as The Mahabharata on a best of list. It's like putting The Bible in "my favorite books." So consider this a recommendation of Menon's retelling of the Mahabharata. Menon's retelling is extremely sensual—I love how he tells the story of Kunti and the gods—and it was also very readable. He tends to paint the Kauravas as more evil than some other retellings might, although he is much kinder to Karna in the second volume than in the first. This was a good introduction to the Mahabharata for me and consumed most of my reading for September.


  • Raj Patel, Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power, and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System: An excellent look at food politics, particularly from a social justice point of view. I love Patel's focus on grass-roots movements and finding solutions that empower the people most disadvantaged by the system. He also draws attention to alliances between movements. By doing so, he not only portrays the forces at work to take advantage of people, but also shows how people fight back. As such, even though the book shows just how broken our current food system is, it also provides hope for the readers.


  • Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty: I still wish Roberts had more on how class and ability affects her analysis, but this is an excellent breakdown of how the USian idea of negative liberty fails to protect vulnerable populations, particularly Black women. I don't remember how explicitly Roberts critiques the mainstream USian feminist movement, but even if she doesn't, the book as a whole is an implicit critique of the focus on abortion and birth control and how these policies impact poor women of color.


  • Sonia Shah, ed., Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire: As with all anthologies, some essays are better than others, but overall, I found this a very worthwhile read. I'm still not quite sure how to talk about this; I read some of the pieces at a time I needed to, when I was (and am still) thinking about the conversations I want and don't want to have. Having grown up with many not-liberal Asian people, I was so glad to have this book and to have more voices than the ones I grew up with, to have more models for myself.


Also recommended: Swati Avasthi, Split; Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember; Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Kiss and Santa Olivia; Kristin Cashore, Fire; Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The Graveyard Book; Joey W. Hill, A Witch's Beauty; Nisi Shawl, Filter House; Sherri L. Smith, Flygirl; and Drew Hayden Taylor, The Night Wanderer.

Total read: 122 (8 rereads)
45 by women of color, 60 by POC, 101 by women

All books read in 2009
* for POC authors, † for female authors

1. M.T. Anderson, Octavian Nothing: The Kingdom on the Waves, Jan 18
2. Tanita S. Davis, A La Carte, Jan 25 *†
3. Terry Pratchett, Night Watch, Jan 26
4. Laurence Yep, Dragon of the Lost Sea, Jan 30 *(reread)
5. Justina Chen Headley, North of Beautiful, Jan 30 *†
6. Many Ly, Roots and Wings, Jan 30 *†
7. Laurence Yep, Dragon Steel, Jan 31 *
8. Laurence Yep, Dragon Cauldron, Feb 01 *(reread)
9. Jacqueline Woodson, After Tupac and D Foster, Feb 02 *†
10. Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, Feb 05 *
11. Sherri L. Smith, Sparrow, Feb 05 *†
12. Amjed Qamar, Beneath My Mother's Feet, Feb 06 *†
13. Ysabeau S. Wilce, Flora's Dare, Feb 18 †
14. Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Feb 18 *†
15. Barbara Michaels, Black Rainbow, Feb 22 †
16. Neil Gaiman, Coraline, Feb 22 (reread)
17. Sonia Shah, ed., Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire, Feb 25 *†
18. Michael Cunningham and George Alexander, Queens: Portraits of Black Women and Their Fabulous Hair, Feb 27 *
19. Sonia Shah, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients, Mar 03 *†
20. Bernardine Evaristo, Blonde Roots, Mar 05 *†
21. Padma Venkatraman, Climbing the Stairs, Mar 10 *†
22. Many Ly, Home Is East, Mar 15 *†
23. Raj Patel, Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power, and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Mar 18 *
24. Nalini Singh, Angels' Blood, Mar 25 *†
25. Sherri L. Smith, Flygirl, Apr 03 *†
26. Shana Abe, The Treasure Keeper, Apr 04 †
27. Anne Bishop, Tangled Webs, Apr 07 †
28. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, Apr 08 †
29. Anne Bishop, The Shadow Queen, Apr 08 †
30. Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak, Apr 11 †
31. Joey W. Hill, The Vampire's Claim, Apr 11 †
32. Lydia Joyce, Wicked Intentions, Apr 11 †
33. Joey W. Hill, A Witch's Beauty, Apr 13 †
34. Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet, Apr 22 *†
35. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The Graveyard Book, Apr 24
36. Lisa Nakamura, Gilbert B. Rodman, and Beth E. Kolko, eds., Race in Cyberspace, Apr 29 *†
37. Drew Hayden Taylor, Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality, Apr 30 *
38. Karen Harbaugh, Night Fires, May 02 *†
39. Karen Harbaugh, Cupid's Mistake, May 03 *†
40. Karen Harbaugh, Cupid's Darts, May 05 *†
41. Lisa Nakamura, Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet, May 05 *†
42. Karen Harbaugh, Dark Enchantment, May 08 *†
43. Jo Beverley, Forbidden, May 08 †
44. Drew Hayden Taylor, The Night Wanderer, May 13 *
45. Laurence Yep, Dragon War, May 15 *
46. Rosemary Kirstein, The Steerswoman, May 16 †(reread)
47. Rosemary Kirstein, The Lost Steersman, May 18 †(reread)
48. Rosemary Kirstein, The Outskirter's Secret, May 18 †(reread)
49. Rosemary Kirstein, The Language of Power, May 19 †(reread)
50. Elizabeth Hoyt, The Serpent Prince, May 20 †
51. Sherry Thomas, Not Quite a Husband, May 21 *†
52. Elizabeth Hoyt, The Leopard Prince, May 21 †
53. Elizabeth Hoyt, The Raven Prince, May 26 †
54. Liz Henry, ed., WisCon Chronicles 3: Carnival of Feminist, May 26 †
55. Elizabeth Hoyt, To Seduce a Sinner, May 29 †
56. Cindy Pon, Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, May 30 *†
57. Nalini Singh, Slave to Sensation, Jun 05 *†
58. Jo Beverley, Something Wicked, Jun 05 †
59. Nalini Singh, Mine to Possess, Jun 07 *†
60. Connie Brockway, So Enchanting, Jun 12 †
61. Suzanne Brockmann, Freedom's Price, Jun 13 †
62. Paula Yoo, Good Enough, Jun 15 *†
63. An Na, The Fold, Jun 18 *†
64. Robin McKinley, Chalice, Jun 19 †
65. Cynthia Leitich Smith, Eternal, Jun 22 *†
66. Nalini Singh, Hostage to Pleasure, Jun 22 *†
67. Alaya Dawn Johnson, Racing the Dark, Jun 27 *†
68. Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Kiss, Jun 29 †
69. Joey W. Hill, Ice Queen, Jun 30 †
70. Kari Sperring, Living with Ghosts, Jun 30 †
71. Karen Harbaugh, Cupid's Kiss, Jul 02 *†
72. Kim Anderson, A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood, Jul 07 *†
73. L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle: The Initiation, Jul 11 †
74. L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle: The Captive, Jul 11 †
75. L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle: The Power, Jul 12 †
76. Jacqueline Carey, Santa Olivia, Jul 15 †
77. Suzanne Enoch, Before the Scandal, Jul 26 †
78. Meredith Duran, Bound by Your Touch, Jul 26 †
79. Kelly Parra, Invisible Touch, Jul 27 *†
80. Meredith Duran, Written on Your Skin, Jul 29 †
81. Swati Avasthi, Split, Aug 03 *†
82. Nisi Shawl, Filter House, Aug 04 *†
83. Ono Fuyumi, Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow, Aug 07 *†
84. Alison Sinclair, Darkborn, Aug 08 †
85. Marjorie M. Liu, The Fire King, Aug 08 *†
86. Tessa Dare, Goddess of the Hunt, Aug 09 †
87. Geraldine Harris, White Cranes Castle, Aug 22 †
88. Laurence Yep, City of Fire, Aug 26 *
89. Steve Almond, Candyfreak, Aug 30
90. Mayra Lazara Dole, Down to the Bone, Sep 12 *†
91. Ono Fuyumi, Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind, Sep 12 *†
92. Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell, Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels, Sep 13 *†
93. Ramesh Menon, The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering, vol. 1, Sep 20 *
94. Michelle Sagara, Cast in Shadow, Oct 03 *†
95. Michelle Sagara, Cast in Courtlight, Oct 05 *†
96. N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Oct 05 *†
97. Ramesh Menon, The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling, vol. 2, Oct 07 *
98. Bonnie Adrian, Framing the Bride: Globalizing Beauty and Romance in Taiwan's Bridal Industry, Oct 13 †
99. Patricia A. McKillip, The Sorceress and the Cygnet, Oct 19 †
100. Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals, Oct 25
101. Malinda Lo, Ash, Oct 26 *†
102. Joan Ryan, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, Oct 27 †
103. Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others, Oct 28 *
104. Laura Kinsale, The Shadow and the Star, Nov 01 †
105. Glenda Larke, Heart of the Mirage, Nov 10 †
106. Kristin Cashore, Fire, Nov 11 †
107. Pam Rosenthal, The Bookseller's Daughter, Nov 19 †
108. Barbara Michaels, Wings of the Falcon, Nov 20 †
109. Laura Kinsale, Uncertain Magic, Nov 21 †
110. Laura Kinsale, Midsummer Moon, Nov 22 †
111. Meljean Brook, Demon Forged, Nov 29 †
112. David Anthony Durham, Acacia: The War with the Mein, Nov 29 *
113. Mary Balogh, Slightly Tempted, Dec 08 †
114. Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember, Dec 09 †
115. Liz Carlyle, No True Gentleman, Dec 10 †
116. Elizabeth Hoyt, To Beguile a Beast, Dec 11 †
117. Mary Balogh, At Last Comes Love, Dec 13 †
118. Mary Balogh, Simply Magic, Dec 14 †
119. Minister Faust, From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, Dec 16 *
120. Mary Balogh, A Precious Jewel, Dec 18 †
121. Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon's Arms, Dec 18 *†
122. V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic, Dec 25 †(reread)

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