2016 Reading List
In this space, I'll post the books I've read and a quick 1-3 sentence review of each. Another thing to note, beginning in March I decided that for every book I read by a white author, I would read one by a POC author. If I'm not reading the works of other minorities and not giving them publicity, I'm failing.
So here is the list!
1. Sandra Cisneros - Loose Woman
This collection of poems by one of the writers I admire the most is very raw and amazing. I preferred her abstract poetry over her erotic poetry in this collection but it's all in all a great read.
2. James S.A. Corey's Abaddon's Gate, Caliban's War, Cibola Burn
I'm a sucker for space opera and for books that I can blaze through without wanting to stop. The Expanse series fit nicely in that description.
3. Jasminne Mendez's Island of Dreams
A good pickup about the in-between experience of leaving your country and coming to America. I am biased because I know Jasminne, but I think this book speaks for the over-arcing immigrant experience.
Rating: Must read, support local writers!
4. Marko Kloos - Terms of Enlistment
A good read, it's entertaining for sure although the main character kind of grates on me after awhile. I also think the trilogy is going to get better once I finish reading.
Rating: A good pickup, but holding my breath until I finish the series.
5. Raymond Carver - What we talk about when we talk about love
oh god no. Carver is a great, realistic writer but I think after the fifth story of someone being miserable and smoking and drinking I just kind of gave up
Rating: If you're an English major, go on and pick it up.
6. Jillian Flynn - Sharp Objects
This is the Gone Girl lady and this book is darker and more what-the-effy than Gone Girl. It's also the first mystery book I've read and I found it enjoyable but disturbing.
Rating: Good read.
7. Ainissa G. Ramirez and Allen St. John - Newton's Football: The Science Behind America's Game
This book is a very interesting look at the juxtaposition of sports and science. Hell, for all intents and purposes, it's ESPN'S SportsScience in book format ant talks about things like the Butterfly Effect and Chaos Theory as it applies to the NFL.
Rating: If you have friends who are into science but are baffled by sports, I recommend it.
8. Scott Turow - One L
So this book is a book I should have read before I got into law school. It's a book you should read before you go into law school.
Rating: Pick up if you want to get a glimpse of what life is like as a law student, this is a good one.
9. Raymond Carver - Will you please be quiet, please
No, no more Carver this year.
Rating: *smokes, takes a drink, ends a relationship*
10. PW Singer - Child Soldiers
This is an interesting look at the cruelty of children at war and how tough it is to fight them. Basically, the people who are using child soldiers for the most part are not the type of people to be put of by international condemnation, so they'll use children as soldiers as much as they can.
Rating: Reads more like a treatise and gets a bit redundant at times
11. Neil Gaiman - American Gods
So JK Rowling's got herself in a spot of trouble because she's going to create a new set of magic books in the U.S. As you can expect, people are concerned it will be a lot of "wow look at these magical Indians!". Her defenders will be like "well! if she's not going to do it right, who will?" to which I say: Neil Gaiman in American Gods.
Rating: Gaiman doing magic realism justice is never a bad thing to read.
12. Paul Campo - Don't Go To Law School Unless...
A sobering read and I think it's worth reading alongside Scott Turow's book. It talks about the financial costs of law school and how the market is nowadays.
Rating: Read it if you're considering law school.
13. Dan Abnett- Salvation's Reach
Another Gaunt's Ghosts book, more of the same, which I love, but people might not be so keen on it.
Rating: Pick up if you're emotionally invested in Ibram Gaunt and his command.
14. Daniel Chacon - Hotel Juarez
I'll always be biased towards books from my professors, but this is another collection of short stories where real and surreal lines are blurred.
Rating: A good read, although I still feel his other collection, Unending Rooms, is better.
15. Joe Navarro - What Every BODY is Saying
A look as to how a former FBI profiler made a living. Fun fact, even the best-trained profilers are still right only 50% of the time.
Rating: Pick it up if you want to add a new dimension to your people watching, you pervert.
16. Mario Suarez - Chicano Sketches
The godfather of Chicano literature, this is a great collection of stories about life in a fictitious border town neighborhood. I really liked the stories featured here and how the characters interacted with each other throughout the book.
Rating: A must-read
17. Sandra Cisneros - House on Mango Street
So this is Sandra Cisneros' most-known work. It's good, but it's nowhere as good as Woman Hollering Creek is, even if the audience for Mango Street is younger. It's a series of interconnected vignettes about life in and around that house.
Rating: Read this book first then read Woman Hollering Creek.
18. Hector Tobar - Translation Nation
Hands down the best book I've read this year. It's a journalist's journey into life as a Latino in the US and explores the idea of Latinidad (Spanish language term that is used to reference the various attributes that are shared by Latin American people and their descendants without reducing those similarities to any single essential trait.) and it's just really, really, good. Like, I finally found a book that spoke to my experience.
19. Juan Felipe Herrera - Notes on the Assemblage
So this is a book by U.S. Poet Laureate Herrera and it's a great collection of poems...except for a few where I just, didn't quite get what he was writing about. But then again, I am not a U.S. Poet Laureate.
Rating: A good read.
20. Neil Gaiman - Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
I think Neil Gaiman's short stories only come in two flavors: Really good, or eminently forgettable. This book is no exception.
Rating: It's worth it just or the good stories.
21. Lauren Holmes - Barbara the Slut and other people
So this book, another collection of short stories...I was a bit disappointed because it's....eh. I can't explain it. Part of it was that I was reading short stories from someone outside my element, the other part was that none of them really captured my attention. Except for maybe the last one.
22. Pierce Brown - Red Rising
This book is AMAZING. Think Hunger Games meets Greek Mythology meets an awesome adventure story. It starts out a little bit slow and then BAM it hits you with awesomeness.
23. Leslie Contreras-Schwartz - Fuego
This is the third poetry book this year and I put it right up there with Cisneros' Loose Woman. I dog-eared just about every other page because her poetry was,well, that shit was fire.
24. Flash Fiction Forward - James Thomas and Robert Shepard (Ed.)
This is the first flash fiction collection that I've ever read, and it was inspired by the recent publication of The Ritual and acceptance of White Eyes. It's very interesting, and I highly recommend getting it if only for stories like Don Shea's Jumper. Jack Handey (yeah, that Jack Handey) also makes an appearance.
Rating: It's a good read, but some of the stories were more like....eh.
25. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
I loved this book! Especially because it kind of solidified how I should explain what flash fiction was to people. It also offered a lot of good techniques I've been trying to incorporate into my writing.
Also, damn if it feels good to finish the first book in like several months.
26. Neil Gaiman - Trigger Warning
So, don’t get me wrong, I love Neil Gaiman’s short story collections, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about them (as part of my own personal reading) is that the stories alternate between me loving them and me being lukewarm.
But Trigger Warning had me just liking the good stories and really feeling apathetic about the rest.
Rating: There are better Neil Gaiman collections.