Reading Resolution Year in Review

I just sat down to look at my list and come up with my Best and Worst books that I read in 2018 and came to a really nice conclusion: I read a lot of good stuff this year. There have certainly been years where even the middle of my list was not that good (looking at you, 2017). But I feel like even the “worst” books of my 2018 are just ones that I have some issues with, nothing that I felt was a complete waste of time. So here’s a fairly positive sum-up of what I read in 2018:

Best Book: On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman. Maybe it’s my upper-middle class white upbringing showing, but this non-fiction study into over-policing in urban black communities was eye-opening and really great. If you’re ever in the mood for a solid piece of non-fiction that doesn’t read like a textbook, I would recommend it. (Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith is a close, close second.)

Most Enjoyable Book: Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell. Of everything on my reading list, this is the one that I’ve picked up and reread parts of over the course of the year. A cozy mix of queer BDSM erotica and domestic fluff, it’s not the most riveting or best-written book, but damned if I don’t love it.

Worst Book: Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu “Worst” feels like far too harsh of a term for this novel, but it just really didn’t do it for me. The main characters manage to be so indecisive that I stopped caring what decisions they ultimately made. Some good parts, but the bottom of the list from a good year. (The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu also graces the bottom of this list for having one of the most rushed endings I’ve ever seen.)

Biggest Surprise: The Shining by Stephen King This was my first King, and with this as my intro, I’m ready to try some more.

And that’s been my year in reading! My friend and I are making some slight adjustments to the categories for the coming year, and I’m excited to hit the ground running with some great books! And thank you to everyone who has read along with me!

Reading Resolution: “Don’t Call Us Dead” by Danez Smith

13. A collection of poetry: Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

List Progress: 19/25

My preferences for poetry tend to be on two extremes: either very stylized, full rhyming couplets and romantic imagery, or very direct and contemporary, free verse and clear topics and viewpoints. Don’t Call Us Dead, a 2017 poetry collection by Danez Smith, is very much in the latter category, and very, very good at what it does. Lovely imagery, lovely but uncomplicated language, and very direct imagery. The whole collection is about Smith’s relationships to his identity as a gay man, a black man, and an HIV positive man, as well as the connections between all three and how he and other gay black men exist in America. It’s very strong stuff and I definitely recommend it. And not just because Smith is from Minnesota like me.

For a slim book, I spent at least a couple weeks reading through Don’t Call Us Dead, as I didn’t want to read more than a few poems at a time. Smith has a fairly distinctive writing voice and I wouldn’t want the individual poems to run together. That being said, I do recommend reading Smith’s poems in this collection form, so one piece informs the other informs the whole. It’s a collection to be savored and lingered over. You need a certain degree of comfort with uncomfortable topics, with how explicitly Smith described gay sex and his relationship with his body after his HIV diagnosis, but these are not poems designed to make you comfortable. Not a breezy read, but one that I would highly recommend, even if you’re not much of a poetry person.

Would I Recommend It: Yes.