The year is quickly coming to a close, and I am thanking the higher forces for finally ending 2017. It happened, and it seems like it was really only a good year for Taylor Swift. However, some positive things did come out of this year. So, to celebrate, I’m here with a list of the ten of the best stories that I read this year. These are listed below in no particular order, and not all were published in 2017.
Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg
Four years was worth the wait for the sequel to Openly Straight, one of my favorite books ever. Since the first book in the duology was the first book I had ever read with a queer main character, these books hold a special place in my heart. I found Openly Straight when I was beginning to question and explore my identity and being able to read about characters who are figuring out who they are was just what I needed. If anything, I found myself relating more to Ben than I did to Rafe, so I’m so glad Konigsberg decided to write this sequel. I just love this book so much!
When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
I picked up this book for a few different reasons: I had heard so many great things about McLemore’s writing, I was studying magical realism in my Spanish literature class at the time, and this book was sitting on the “New YA Books” shelf at my library calling to me. When I started reading, I was surprised to find a transgender main character whom I could really relate to. Plus her writing style is absolutely magical and easy to fall in love with. I could go on and on about this book, so I’m having trouble briefly summarizing why I love it. Please, just read this or any of her other books and thank me later!
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
This book/series has its issues, but reading and enjoying the good parts of it have helped me find friends in the book community, and there was just something about the storyline that I really clicked with. The Raven Cycle is a series that I actually wasn’t sad to see come to an end because it stopped where it needed to, the way it needed to. Despite what I just said, I can’t wait for the spin-off series that Stiefvater’s planning because this is definitely one of my favorite series!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I want to say this book is amazing, but that just doesn’t do it justice, and I don’t know what word(s) would. I listened to the audiobook for this one, and Bahni Turpin’s narration brought this story to life for me. Police brutality is something we hear about in the news way too often, and it’s one of those topics that, as a privileged outsider, you don’t even know what you don’t know. This book opened my eyes further to this subject, and I love that. Plus, I’m a sucker for good stories about family and friendship, which are two other themes this book focuses on.
TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media & Congress… and Won! by Riki Wilchins
I received a copy of this through NetGalley, and I am so glad that I did. This book is an in-depth account of a bunch of critical points in the history of transgender rights in the US. Even better, it was written by Riki Anne Wilchins who lived through and participated in many of these events. I loved reading about my people’s history, and I am so glad this book exists because I never would have known nearly any of this without it!
El Deafo by Cece Bell
This graphic novel was absolutely adorable! When I pick out graphic novels, I find myself reading mostly middle-grade ones, and I feel like that’s because they tend to have a theme of trying to fit in. El Deafo is semi-autobiographical in that Cece Bell uses the characters to illustrate what it was like to grow up as “the Deaf kid” in school. It shows how hard it is to find your place when you’re different from all of your peers, and I really appreciate stories like this. Overall, Cece (or El Deafo, as her superhero-self goes by) is a loveable, relatable character that I loved!
Ida by Alison Evans
When I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, I could tell from the description that it was about a girl who could time travel, but I never would have expected the twists and turns that this plot took. Plus the diversity featured in this book wasn’t forced or a point in the marketing which made it that much better and more natural to the story. Honestly, Ida was one of the first science-fiction books I had read in a long time, but it has made me want to read more, which is the sign of a great book in my opinion!
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey and Sfe R. Monster
I never wrote a review for this book even though it really deserved one. The story follows a sixth-grade trans boy trying to start HRT, figure out how to talk to his crush, and help his baseball team win the championship. I loved that this was a story about family, friendship, first crushes and navigating middle school in general with a main character that just happens to be trans. Of course, some events happen because he is transgender, but it’s balanced well between the other plot points without any single one taking over, and I appreciate that.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
I remember loving poetry as a child, and I don’t know what made me stop reading and writing it. Whatever the reason, Milk and Honey helped remind me of my love for this art! Kaur’s writing is so emotionally charged, and I loved it. This book got me back into reading poetry, and I am so thankful for that.
“Axolotl” by Julio Cortázar
This is the only read I have listed here that wasn’t a book. This is a short story that I read for my Latin American short story class last semester, and it was honestly this best story we read. Later in the same semester, I ended up writing a paper about the social commentary and theme of “otherness,” which made me fall in love with the story even more. I’ve since read more of his works and Cortázar has become one of my favorite authors.
(“Axolotl” appears in Cortázar’s short story collection, Final del Juego, shown to the left)
What were some of your favorite reads in 2017? See you next year, everyone!