Thursday, December 14, 2017

Best Books of 2017

This was a big confidential committee reading year for me, so when I saw down I can uncertain if I'd even have enough books to do this...but of course, I did. And how could I not make a list?

When I think of 2017, it will forever be the year of Angie Thomas's tour de force The Hate U Give. If you haven't heard Bahni Turpin's audio version, get it -before- it takes the Odyssey Award (only my prediction, but...)

Anything by Dorothy Whipple. I'd looked at the Persephone Press editions of Dorothy Whipple for eons, but this was the year I dug in. Whipple provides some of the best analysis on social dynamics in the 20th century and is pretty funny, too. I think my two favorites were Because of the Lockwoods (1949) and They Knew Mr. Knight (1934). The Persephone editions have the same dove gray covers, but gorgeous endpapers.

The Line of Beauty (2004) by Alan Hollinghurst. I liked this quiet novel because it had the right feel for a Brideshead-update for Thatcher-era Britain.

The Awkward Age (2017) by Francesca Segal This one is about step-families and aging and dogs dying and all sorts of other hard things.  You WILL cry.

Poor Cow (1967) by Nell Dunn. When I saw the Drabble blurb, I had to buy it, and it introduced me to a fascinating women and a really interesting body of sociologically derived work.

The Cows (2017) by Dawn O'Porter An expansive domestic fiction that deals with just about every aspect of modern life and womanhood. This one made me gasp out loud.

The Leavers (2017) by Lisa Ko. I think the immigrant story everyone was reading was Behold the Dreamers, which I also enjoyed, but this one was haunting, most especially the ending.

The Dead of Summer (2008) by Camilla Way. I listened to Watching Edie, but this quiet, dark book was strangely compelling in the way it captures summer idleness and the potential for violence.

Different Class (2017) by Joanne Harris This book seemed to take forever to read, but it was back to Notes on a Scandal caliber for Harris's take on inside-school politics.

Holly Brown was an exciting discovery, and her This is Not Over (2017) is about the sharing economy gone bezerk. No AirBNB for me.

Lower Ed: The Tooubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (2017) by Tressie Milliam Cottom By really dissecting the motives behind our knee-jerk faith in education as a social good, this book changed my thinking about education forever.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (2015) by Sam Quinones really gets into a new model of drug trafficking. I liked it so much I read his other book about Mexico just after.

Respectable: Crossing the Class Divide (2017) by Lynsey Hanley A really interesting memoir about a hard-working girl determined to make good.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017) by Roxane Gay A memoir like no other -- brave and fierce and candid in a glorious way.

How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir (2017) by Cat Marnell I was a huge fan of Marnell's XOJane work, and frequently wear a lipstick she recommended. Her story of addiction and struggle went beyond the usual misery memoirs to really get at modern young womanhood and what it means to claim control.

More nonfiction than usual, I think...and perhaps more 2017 titles.

Best Books of 2016

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Five months!

Did you read the New Yorker piece, "The Personal-Essay Boom is Over"? It pretty much summed up how I've been feeling about so much online content -- writing blogs, reading blogs, tweeting links to blogs -- I weeded my feed reader aggressively a few months back, have pretty much only been reading posts from former Sassy staffers, The Pool, and a handful of libraryland sites.

So I haven't posted here since some best books lists in December, and I also noticed I hadn't composed a tweet, only RTed since our state library association conference last month. And now there are those new, Facebook-esque targeting and tracking strategies, yuck.)

A machine intelligence might intuit I'm depressed, which with all of the family drama and the horrific and divisive political landscape, that isn't off base...I can't help but notice that my web-based reticence pretty much maps to the presidential administration. Obviously, the daily social media proclamations from the White House have brought a whole new level of scrutiny to online microinteractions.

As much as I believe in transparency, it just seems any candid statement can come back to bite you in completely unanticipated ways. And, after some very bad repercussions from what I thought of as sheer observation, I'm downright reluctant to share anything that isn't 110 percent cheerleader-y because you never know who's watching or who will scroll back absolute years in your accounts like every horrible and alarmist "digital footprint" lesson warns.

Anyway, I used to find the interwebs stimulating, now I just find them tiring. Thanks for reading, though.