As tempted as I am, I’m not going to read any more books this year. I’ve read 35, which is 15 more than I was aiming for. I think I’m good.
This was the year I rediscovered my love of reading and the first year I started reading more diversely. Yeah, those are definitely related. Somewhere between my bisexual epiphany in ’13 and the start of this year, I lost my patience for stories that were exclusively white, straight and cisgender. There are so many great diverse books out there that I’d never need to read anything else unless I had a damn good reason.
Anyway, this year–this month, actually–I completed two diverse reading challenges: Diversity December Bingo and Julia Ember’s 12 Days of Diversity Christmas Retelling Readathon. I read 11 books in this month alone. Being on break does wonders for my ability to do whatever the heck I want, clearly.
Out of those 35 books I read this year, I have a few favourites.
My Favourite Books Read in 2016
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
By Benjamin Alire Saenz
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
We Are the Ants
By Shaun David Hutchinson
There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.
Far From You
By Tess Sharpe
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.
That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.
Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
The Captive Prince Trilogy
By C.S. Pacat
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomises the worst of the decadent court at Vere. But in the lethal web of Veretian politics, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen is caught up in a dangerous play for the throne, he must form an alliance with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: he must never reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else . . .
Sidenote: Captive Prince is absolutely my problematic fave because it is fucked up, okay? It’s also not YA by any stretch of the imagination so definitely inform yourself of the potential triggers before reading if you need to, slavery, rape and pedophilia being chief among them.
And I Darken
By Kiersten White
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.
Highly Illogical Behavior
By John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
If I Was Your Girl
By Meredith Russo
‘Important and brave. Read this wonderful book, just read it.’ — Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places
Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school.
Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with.
Amanda has a secret.
At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.
A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.
By Will Kostakis
The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.
All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?
Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.
The above books aren’t the only ones I enjoyed, but they’re definitely the ones I most vividly remember being my favourite. That doesn’t mean there weren’t others I didn’t enjoy just as much. My memory is fickle so here are some others I also liked:
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
- You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
- The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
- Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie
- More Than This by Patrick Ness
- The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
- Ash By Malinda Lo
Anyway, every book I’ve listed anywhere in this blog post has at least one viewpoint character who is queer. That’s the way I like it. Next year, I’m going to aim for 40 books and most of that will be taken up by the 2017 Diversity Bingo.
Good fucking riddance, 2016, and let’s batten down the hatches what is likely to be an… interesting 2017.