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: “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City” by Alice Goffman

11. A non-fiction book: On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman

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List Progress: 11/25

This is a book review by a young white woman about a book by a young white woman studying the societal impact of over-policing on young black men. I have no lived experience concerning the subject matter of this book, and neither does Alice Goffman really, but she spent six years trying her best to learn as much as she could living in a lower-class, predominantly black neighborhood in Philadelphia. On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City was published in 2014 as writer Goffman’s doctoral thesis on the impact of mass incarceration and policing in black neighborhoods. It is a powerful book and thankfully one that reads with the rigour of an academic text but none of the dryness. It is a hard read at times, but never hard to read, and worth putting in the time.

On the Run is about the time that Goffman spends in an anonymous neighborhood given the name Sixth Street in Philadelphia and her time with the 6th Street Boys, young black men who live in the neighborhood and are almost all somehow caught up in the legal system. Violent crimes, drug possession charges, parking violations, and any other myriad thing drags out into months and years of court dates, fines, arrest warrants, imprisonments, parole hearings and probations, which quickly snowball and consume a huge portion of their lives and the lives of those around them. Goffman tracks not only the personal impact on these young men, but the ways the entire neighborhoods around them change and how the culture of these communities comes to revolve around some aspect of law enforcement or another. It is a deeply depressing picture of a social condition that has only gotten worse since 2014.

I do not have much more to say other than that this book is a moving study and very well composed and arranged. Goffman includes a long post-script about her own approach to the work and dealing with her own privilege in the study, which I respect despite it not being as interesting to read as the work itself. It was very eye-opening as a middle class white woman and a book I think should be read by a lot more people. And due to some smooth prose, it is thankfully not a slog to get through.

Would I Recommend It: Yes