I'm a librarian, so I have lots of books that I don't always have time to read, but here's the ones that really stood out that I read this year.
  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. An incredible look at medical ethics and historical trauma, as well as women's health care. A MUST READ for, well, anyone who is or knows a woman.
  2. The Coal Tattoo, by Silas House. Silas is a master Appalachian storyteller, and this is just such a beautiful story of sisterhood, religion, and leaving in the face of tradition.
  3. The Orange Eats Creeps, by Grace Krilanovich. What a surreal ride. Loosely, teenage druggie punk vampires are on the loose in the Pacific Northwest, but stick around for the Twin Peaks vibes. I have never read a book like this before, but I have been looking for another ever since.
  4. The First Bad Man by Miranda July. TBH, I have never read July before, and these characters are not inherently good or likeable, but damn if she doesn't make you root for their love and happiness. I think about these characters all the time.
  5. Bandette, Volume 1: Presto! By Paul Tobin. If you're looking for a sweet little graphic novel to cleanse your palate, then this is it. Bandette, our favorite thief with a heart of gold, goes on capers adorably, with heartwarming results.
  6. Kindred, by Octavia Butler. This one is not so easy to read, but absolutely worth it. Butler explores African American historical trauma through space and time travel back to the antebellum era. This is an old book, but seems shockingly timely.
  7. All the Rage by Courtney Summers. Another one that's not so easy to read, Summers does an excellent job of taking on rape culture in this YA book. She takes on the good ol boy/small town mentality and deftly describes the toll of sexual violence on victims. Another must read.
  8. Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce. A haunting novel about a woman who is thrown in a continuous downward spiral. No bootstraps here, Marie trudges through finding satisfaction in life beyond her obvious skill in working in restaurants. Some young Anthony Bourdain vibes here, in terms of sex, drugs and culinary perfection.
  9. The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson. Truly a timely examination on what a family consists of outside the realm of gender, Nelson uses her own life experience to theorize about sexuality, gender, marriage and child-rearing. Heavy on the philosophy , so you may want to read it more than once.
  10. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Good gracious what took me so long to read this? Well-researched, smartly written true crime with a bent toward architecture. It's a bestseller for a real reason.
  11. Lumberjanes, Beware of the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson. Girls, in the wilderness, using their natural skills to solve magical quests, and supporting each other throughout? An answered prayer from the feminist graphic novel gods.
  12. Clothes Clothes Clothes... By Viv Albertine. What a badass. I love women who can handle their life on their own but show vulnerability. Viv gives a full account of being a punk turned mother and back.
  13. M Train, by Patti Smith. She made me cry over a cafe, for Pete's sake. A celebration of impermanence and fleeting beauty. I am not made of stone.
  14. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. I am so biased because I love everything she does. Carrie writes a memoir that doesn't exactly show that she's convinced of her talent or skill, but her love of the band and the spirit of music and fandom.
  15. Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen. I've been following along with AHP since her Hairpin days, and I adore this book. Quick tabloid-length examinations of the academic theory behind celebrity scandals but easy enough for anyone to read. I am selfishly hoping for another.