I read 38 books this year; nearly 10,000 pages. Here are 5 that stood out (in no particular order):
Just Kids by Patti Smith.
I love memoir/autobiography. To me this book really captures what I imagine life in New York City was like when Patti Smith was young. It captures youth, resilience, and friendship.
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman
I read the book before I watched the TV show. Both are great. What I like about the book is the commentary and sociological context she provides to her experience. The author also does an OK job acknowledging her privilege too.
Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus
I enjoyed this book for several reasons. One, it exposed to me this movement that was just out of my reach in the 90s, having grown up in a conservative environment. I knew of this movement, but was never able to engage with it. I think the 90s me would have appreciated this exposure to feminism. Better late than never, I guess.
What We Talk about When We Talk about God by Rob Bell
Rob Bell keeps me hanging on to a spiritual life. I love his honesty, theological humility, and logic.
see also: Frank Schaeffer, Brian McClaren, Karen Armstrong.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
If Sedaris writes something, I read it and I love it. Then I listen to it; his audio delivery is truly brilliant. He also wrote a beautiful essay in the New Yorker this year, which I mention here.
And, yes, I realize none of these books are novels or fiction. I DID, in fact, read some good fiction this year, but they didn’t crack the top five. Maybe next year. Despite what this list indicates, this year was perhaps my most diverse reading year in terms of genre. You can see the full list here.