Books Read in 2017

NOVEMBER
The Unorthodox Dr. Draper and Other Stories by William Browning Spencer

OCTOBER
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – Lived up to my expectations. Loved it.

On Food & Cooking The Science & Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee – Ummm, actually still reading this.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – Good one-volume big history.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente – Catherynne Valente can do no wrong.

SEPTEMBER
Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay – Tremendously honest. Enlightening. By far her best work yet. Highly recommended.

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti – Excellent, though somewhat uneven.

AUGUST
Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson – Loved the premise of this book, and the world-building. Went on a little too long for me.

Ghost Fleet A Novel of the Next World War by P W Singer, August Cole – Ugh.

Locke and Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez – Great characters. Fun premise. Feels like it was made up as they went along, rather than having a tight overarching structure to work within.

Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones – I never finished this book. Strong writing, and he is highly acclaimed, but I never got any traction.

JULY
Soul of the Marionette A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom by John Gray – Maybe not Gray’s most cohesive work. Mostly looking at 20th century authors who incorporate some type of gnosticism in their work.

City of the Dreadful Night by James Thomson – Long poem from the 19th century. Dark. “All is vanity and nothingness.”

The Baby Jesus Butt Plug by Carlton Mellick III – I love bizarro fiction. I don’t know why I don’t read more of it. I should rectify that.

Miracles Ain’t What They Used to Be by Joe R. Lansdale Part of the Outspoken Authors series. Long interview, essay, a few stories, and a bibliography. I have quite a few books in this series about different genre authors. I like it.

Bumper Crop by Joe R Lansdale – I went back and re-read some short stories by Lansdale. One of my favorite writers.

JUNE
Cooked a Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan – I really enjoy Pollan’s work, and this is no exception. Prompted me to start cooking more often.

Tiny Pieces of Skull by Roz Kaveney – Interesting fictionalized memoir about being a trans bohemian in the 1970s. Worth reading.

Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M Valente – I love everything by Valente. I loved this book.

Kill Society by RIchard Kadrey – Who will play Sandman Slim in the inevitable television series?

Broken Harbor by Tana French – My first Tana French novel. Solid police procedural. Based on recommendations I’ll probably read more of her work

MAY
Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarestani – Dense, but thought-provoking. Probably worth a re-read or two.

The Wrong Dead Guy by Richard Kadrey – Popcorn. I love everything Kadrey does and order his work as soon as it’s announced.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca – Words of wisdom combined with some insight to classical-era Roman life.

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine – Excellent work conveying the cumulative effects of constant microaggressions combined with outright racism.

Destiny Disrupted A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary — Solid popular history. Recommended. I wish I could find more books like this.

APRIL
Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky — I love the conceit of this story. It also has great characters. Looking forward to seeing the Tarkovsky adaptation.

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev — I expected more about Putin’s information warfare. It’s mostly about Pomerantsev’s various projects when he worked for Russian TV. Interesting, but not quite what I expected.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller, and Jeremy McCarter — Wonderful book-as-object. A well-made, well-designed, beautiful book. Includes all the lyrics, so if you’re not catching a line or two, this will help. And, background information about the development of the show, and interviews with the principle actors. Great gift for any Hamilton fan.

Quest of the Absolute by Honore De Balzac — The first two thirds are excellent, but then it loses steam as it seems like Balzac is trying to pad out the word count.

Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull, David Dalton – I read it for research. Pretty good for these sorts of things. Faithfull is unrepentant about her life of excess and she dishes some about her early days with Mick and the Stones.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh – A compelling character study about a character not afraid to reveal her most shameful dark thoughts. I liked it, and am ordering more Moshfegh now.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – I really, really loved this book.

A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson — Good, but it took me a long time to get through it.

MARCH
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler — I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first work by Butler I’ve read. It won’t be the last.

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor — I really liked this book. Already ordered Who Fears Death by Okorafor and set in the same world.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery — Fun book. Quick read.

Pop Apocalypse by Lee Konstantinou — Didn’t really do it for me.

FEBRUARY
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick — Worthy reminder of the brutality of the Islamic State terror organization. Warrick does the work of journalism by showing what is going on and how it came about. Evenhanded and (thankfully) short on editorializing.

A Theory of the Drone by Gregoire Chamayou — Critical look at the use of drones in warfare. Worth reading.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng — Exquisitely crafted work. Excellent.

How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps by Ryan Cragun — “A toolkit for secular activists.”

The Field of Fight by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Michael T. Flynn – Read this to get a sense of how Flynn might influence The Donald. Reinforced my concern that some on the inside may want to form a coalition with Russia to attack Iran. Maybe that will change now that Flynn’s out.

Animal Money by Michael Cisco — “A living form of money results in the unraveling of the world.” Wonderful, surreal, imaginative, but at 780 pages it’s also quite a commitment. This is the second Cisco book I’ve read, and I’ll keep reading his work, but this was a little too much for me.

JANUARY
Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns – Entertaining. Read it for research.

Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes — Good enough, I suppose. I picked it up because Ethan Zuckerman mentioned its insurrectionist vs. institutionalist framing, and it was blurbed by a few people I respect. Cogent critique of meritocracy, but I found the proposed solutions a little thin. I rarely read these sorts of books anymore, and probably will continue to avoid them for the foreseeable future.

Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti – No one writes like Ligotti. There is so much great stuff in here, but I found reading it all at once a little overwhelming. I might have been better served to space out the stories more.

Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente – Valente is brilliant. This collection is a little uneven, but worth it. “Fade to White” is an interesting counter-point to Handmaid’s Tale.

Gurdjieff An Introduction to His Life & Ideas by John Shirley – Read this for research. Solid introduction by someone better known for their genre fiction work.

Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler – Insanely great. Manages to weave a narrative out of the random ephemera featured at Scarfolk Council. One of the best humor books I’ve read in a long time.

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan – Read this one for research, looking for insight to being a popular musician in the 60s and 70s. Well-written, if somewhat uneven.