I had a goal this year of reading 52 books, which was overly ambitious – I only read 31. I’m glad I made the plan, though, because it made me keep a list, which I’ve never done before.
- To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey
- Julian Comstock, Robert Charles Wilson
- World Made By Hand, James Howard Kunstler
- The Witch of Hebron, James Howard Kunstler
- A History of the Future, James Howard Kunstler
- The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch
- Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
- The Nightmare Stacks, Charles Strauss
- American War, Omar El Akkad
- Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff
- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
- The Delirium Brief, Charles Stross
- Warlock, Oakley Hall
- Rogue Male, Geoffrey Household
I am not a discriminating reader – I like almost all fiction I read. There’s not a book I read in this category I didn’t like somewhat, although the Kunstler books were the biggest let down. They’re post-apocalyptic, which is a genre I groove on hard, but reading World Made By Hand, I started to get a weird vibe about how women, minorities, and gay people where treated, but it was subtle enough that I put it aside. The Witch of Hebron wasn’t quite as bad, so I put it aside, but A History of the Future definitely gave me the heebie-jeebies. I looked up the author, and of course he’s a bigot, the kind that thinks they’re smarter than everyone else and they have special insight that the rest of us sheeple are missing out on. Fuck that guy and his books. I know people say “separate the artist from the art,” but once I knew what was up, so many things in the books made more sense.
My two favorite books were the first one and one of the last ones I read, To the Bright Edge of the World and Warlock. Both are stories of the Old West, although quite different. To the Bright Edge of the World is about a woman left behind as her husband goes off to explore Alaska and her own personal journey, and Warlock is an almost absurdly masculine novel about the clash of male egos in a small Arizona town. It has Stephen King-level stand-ins for God and the Devil, with God as a drunken one-legged judge and a cool murdering gambler as the Devil.
- Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
- The Man Who Quit Money, Mark Sundeen
- The Unsettlers, Mark Sundeen
- A People’s History of Christianity, Diana Butler Bass
- A Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor
- Help Thanks Wow, Anne Lamott
- After You Believe, N.T. Wright
- Simply Jesus, N.T. Wright
- The Third Reconstruction, Rev. Dr. William Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
- Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, Brian Zahnd
- In the Hands of a Happy God: The “No-Hellers” of Central Appalachia, Howard Dorgan
I had a religious awakening in the last year that can’t be summed up easily. It left me hungry to read as much as possible about a positive version of Christianity.
My favorite book in this category, The Man Who Quit Money, isn’t actually a religious book. It’s a study of Daniel Suelo, a man who has lived without spending money since 2000. His own religious upbringing both inspired him to live this way and caused him significant strife.
Other books I particularly enjoyed are Simply Christian, which helped me overcome a lot of the baggage from growing up Southern Baptist, and Sinners in the Hands of a Happy God, which is a fantastic tale of a pastor’s journey.
- Zero Bugs and Program Faster, Kate Thompson
- Rosalie Lightning, Tom Hart
- Bitch Doctrine, Laurie Penny
- Life in Code, Ellen Ullman
- Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann
- Unbelievable, Katy Tur
- Beginning Spring Boot 2, K. Siva Prasad Reddy
It’s strange how few technical books I read. Zero Bugs and Program Faster was a must-read for its overly confident title alone. It was pretty great. Laurie Penny and Ellen Ullman are fantastic writers and their books rocked me.