This year I started regularly using a site that has become one of my favorite ways to share knowledge online: Goodreads. I’ve been keeping track of my reading and my friends’ reading there, plus reviewing some of the books I devour (and I have been crossposting some that to this here blog). I read a lot this year, partly because I now have a commute to work and I read a lot on the subway. In 2009 so far (because, let’s face it, there ARE another few weeks in the year) I’ve read 55 books.
Here are the books that were my favorites. Originally I was going to list books written by friends and acquaintances separately in the interest of being fair and impartial or whatever. But – fuck it. My friends are pretty awesome writers, and their books are notable and still sticking with me months after I’ve read them. So, in no particular order:
1. Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart, by Carol Leonard (link goes to my review). Memoir of a midwife – just blew me away. So passionate and lovely. I’m totally going to push this book on my pregnant friends.
2. Angels and Ages, by Adam Gopnik (link goes to my review). A cultural history/history of science/biography of Darwin and Lincoln. Say no more.
3. Stitches, by David Small. Really sets a high bar for the graphic novel. Beautiful, with gorgeous pacing, silence, and sadness.
4. Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon. Carolyn is a pal of mine who writes lush postmodern fairy tales. I loved Godmother, though it didn’t take my breath away the same way that her debut Rain Village did. She’s been hanging in Berlin and finishing off her third novel, Mermaid, which I will buy and gobble up as soon as it is for sale.
5. Scarlett Takes Manhattan, by Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt. Molly is a longtime pal – her first graphic novel is gorgeously drawn, with great turns of phrase and major filth with a touch of class.
6. We Did Porn, by Zak Smith (link to my long-ass review). Zak’s illustrated memoir about doing porn. Great insights about the businesses and cultures of art and porn. I make a few guest appearances in ways that amuse me greatly.
7. Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys, edited by David Henry Sterry and RJ Martin. I am totally biased on this one because I have a piece in it, and that piece got praised by the New York Times Book Review. That said, this is a really great anthology of writings by sex workers, one that actually represents diversity of experience and background.
8. The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga. I read this novel while I was in India and had a fever. It’s really amazing and dark.
9. A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World, by Marcia Tucker. Lovely autobiography & artifact of contemporary art. Tucker was a curator at the Whitney and then the founding director of the New Museum.
10. Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking, by Tim Dean (click for my review). Though ultimately it didn’t hold together all the way through, this was by far the most thought-provoking book I read on sexuality this year.
11. Hubert’s Freaks: The Rare-Book Dealer, the Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus by Gregory Gibson (click for my review). This book appealed to my particular brand of nerdiness on several levels: material culture, freak shows, weird personalities, American cultural history. It is a lot of goodness, and an interesting approach to what could be a boring story about pieces of old paper.
12. All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay D.C., by Craig Seymour. I am lucky enough to have been able to get Craig to come read at Sex Worker Literati last month – it was cool to hear his writing in his voice. I read a lot of sex worker memoirs, and this was definitely the best one I read in 2009.
13. I Love A Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles, by Lily Burana. Lily wrote one of my favorite sex worker memoirs ever, Strip City, and she’s become something of a pal over the years. She is one hell of a writer. Also, she is pretty and shares my affinity for animal prints.
14. The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, by Michelle Goldberg. This book is a good and non-jargony read about women’s health and rights around the world. It really helped to clarify things that I was grappling with as I settled into my job at IWHC.
15. The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. A really lovely, gorgeously written novel.