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December 2017

Best Books 2017 (part 2): That I DID blog about!

A while back I wrote about books that I read in 2017, enjoyed, and never blogged about. Today's list runs down the books that I enjoyed in 2017 and that I DID blog about! Please note: this list is not solely about titles that were published IN 2017. Books published in 2017 on the below list are in BOLD. Links are to my CR reviews.

After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search, by Sarah Perry. True crime, and one of the best books I've ever read, full stop.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016, edited by Amy Stewart. A nearly perfect collection, encompassing a broad range of essay styles, topics, and length, on topics that you may not always think of as science (sports bra design?) but which certainly are.

Raw dealRaw Deal: How the "Uber Economy" and Runaway Capitalism are Screwing American Workers, by Steven Hill. A bit dense, but very interesting investigative writing on tech, jobs, the economy, and ultimately, what kind of society we want to have.

Getting Schooled, by Garret Keizer. A memoir by a writer who started his career as a teacher, then went back and put in another year teaching after many years away from it. Great stuff.

Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, by Willie Parker. I am anti-abortion, so why was this memoir by a doctor who provides abortions a "favorite"? Because I think it was an important read especially if you ARE going to be anti-abortion. In what ways can we move this issue to one where we care for babies who do arrive, make adoption a better option, and address the base-level inequalities between men and women that lead to women ALWAYS having to make all the hard choices themselves? (MALE BIRTH CONTROL PILL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I'm just saying.)

Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies, by Hadley Freeman. Pop culture. I just plain enjoyed it.

All Grown Up, a novel by Jami Attenberg. I just love Jami Attenberg.

Why I am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, by Jessa Crispin. I don't agree with Jessa Crispin on a lot of things, but on the other hand, I agree with Jessa Crispin on a lot of things.

Dorothy dayDorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty, by Kate Hennessy. A biography/memoir about The Catholic Worker newspaper founder Dorothy Day and her family, written by her granddaughter. So beautiful. So sad. Just like life;

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon. A True Crime classic about Baltimore. Can't believe I'd never read it before.

Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, a graphic novel by Andy Warner. Great history, fun format. I really should read more graphic novels.

The Platinum Age of Television, by David Bianculli. Another great pop culture read.

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire, by Julia Baird. Such a great read that I really didn't even notice that it was more than 700 pages long.

Frank: The Voice, and Sinatra: The Chairman, exhaustive biographies of Frank Sinatra by James Kaplan. Great reads both, although I preferred the former.

What were your favorites this year? I hope very much it was a good 2017 for each and every one of you. On to 2018!

Best Books 2017...that I didn't even blog about.

I read a lot of really good nonfiction this year. But what almost invariably happened was that when I really liked a book, I set it aside to blog about it later when I could "take more time writing about it."

Yeah, right.

I'd set my favorite books aside, wait for this magical mythical moment when I had lots of free time,* it would never come, then the book would go overdue, and I would just have to return it to the library. BUT! I did usually write down the titles of the books I was reading, so that's how I know what great books I read and never blogged about. Here they are:

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West. Actually, I quite enjoyed this book, a collection of essays by West. One of the most interesting ones was how she actually met and talked with a very misguided man who went to the trouble of creating a whole fictitious Twitter account FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of trolling her. Normally I don't feel a lot of communion with millennial woman, but I enjoyed her frustrated but still understanding/forgiving tone. A thoughtful read.

Am I Alone Here?, essays about reading by a man named Peter Orner. I didn't get the whole thing read, but this was an interesting collection about reading and what it means to us.

PrivacyPrivacy, by Garret Keizer. Ohmygod did I love this book. I think I'm making plans to either force this book on you in a Menage, or to host some kind of read-along or something. It's a very short little book with some very big little essays on the nature of privacy and how we feel about it and (don't) protect it.

Arbitrary Stupid Goal, by Tamara Shopsin. Memoir by daughter of the infamous New York City grocery/restaurant owner Kenny Shopsin. I still hope to write about this one. It was a crazy ride.

Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, by Ada Calhoun. Surprisingly good and eerily right-on collection of essays about marriage.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks, by Annie Spence. Lord, this book was so good, and it pissed me off SO bad. This is the book that everyone who a. loves books and b. wants to make people laugh, would LOVE to write. I can't hate Annie Spence for being better at loving books more and being funnier than me, though, them's just the breaks. She gave us a great book.

So there you have it. Some of my favorite books of the year that I didn't even write about. On to more laziness in 2018!

*I actually get some free time. But I don't always want to spend it blogging, I'll admit, especially since I feel my blog writing has been somewhat lackluster lately, and no one wants to spend time doing something that makes them feel lackluster. If I want to feel lackluster all I need to do is get up in the morning.

Citizen Reading: 18 December 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

The New Yorker's "Most read fiction [short stories] of 2017."

The latest Booklist: Starred reviews 2017.

"Some thoughts on celebrity book clubs."

On "the graphic novel's dilemma."

Great Britain is experiencing a "crisis in literary fiction." (Are they really?)

What's at stake if we lose net neutrality? (Oops, too late, it's gone.)

School libraries are "evolving and expanding" with ebooks.

Spy and author Aline Griffith: Obituary.

Where did J.K. Rowling first write down her ideas for the Hogwarts house names?

The Ayn Rand Institute: now giving away its four millionth book.

Former Facebook executive says "his kids aren't allowed to use that s**t" (meaning Facebook). I'm sure he'll be giving away all the money he made at Facebook to atone for helping unleash Facebook.

Filmmaker and author Morgan Spurlock confesses "he is part of the problem."

Market chain Eataly has pulled all of Mario Batali's cookbooks.

A lot of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's archive is now freely available online.

Have you heard of the "Irish Bridget Jones"?

"Here's the full list of goofy-ass Golden Globe nominations."

13 book to screen titles to look for in 2018.

I didn't know they were making a movie based on the forger's memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me? I was not a fan.

"A Prairie Home Companion" has become "Live from Here."


A nonfiction author on how to "rethink fidelity." I happened to catch most of this interview and it was REALLY interesting. I might give the book a try.

A new collection of Sylvia Plath's letters has been published.

The New York Times has a new nonfiction book critic.

A new book about "Americans on the move."

A new history about the tumultuous year of 1968.

An interview with Tina Brown about her new book.

Tina Turner is writing a second memoir.

New York Times: a memoir by illustrator Cullen Murphy;on John Hodgman's Vacationland; two new books on wildfires; on the importance of government; a former hostage has written a book about captive negotiations; on bloodshed (and horse racing) in the continuing war on drugs.


Booklist: Best new books week of Dec. 11.

USA Today: 5 books you won't want to miss this week, including one by Pope Francis. I MUST get the Queen Victoria's Matchmaking book.

Vox magazine: Best books of 2017. This is a VERY interesting nonfiction list.

Minnesota Public Radio: Best nonfiction 2017. Another interesting list.

Sports Illustrated: Best sports books of 2017.

Maureen Corrigan's best of 2017.

Booklist Reader: 2017's most excellent YA nonfiction.

Staff book recommendations at MobyLives.

LibraryReads: January 2018. New year, same old boring list.

Ten books about "women, work, and power."

6 book suggestions for the "young and weird at heart."

10 best documentaries of 2017.

The Mary Sue: 10 books everyone will want to read in 2018.

14 pop culture podcasts from diverse perspectives.


Derek Jacobi has joined Neil Gaiman's Good Omens.

AudioFile Magazine's Best Books of 2017!

Last year I was very excited to partner with AudioFile Magazine to draw attention to their Best Audiobooks of the Year (2016). So I was glad that they contacted me again this year to run a similar post!

AudiofileFor those of you who are not aware of AudioFile Magazine, it's a great resource to keep you up-to-date on all the latest audiobook news, complete with reviews that focus both on a book's content and its narrator--because we all know a very important part of how much you enjoy a audiobook is how much you enjoy its narrator's voice and style!

I also love AudioFile Magazine because they're an independent reviewer--too many review sources these days are owned by conglomerates*. So, without further adieu, here are their suggestions for BEST NONFICTION AUDIOBOOKS OF 2017. The links go to the AudioFile reviews of each title. (Want to see their entire list? Go to their AudioFile Best Audiobooks list.)

CAESAR'S LAST BREATH by Sam Kean, read by Ben Sullivan

DRAFT NO. 4 by John McPhee, read by John McPhee

FINISH by Jon Acuff, read by Jon Acuff

I CAN'T BREATHE by Matt Taibbi, read by Dominic Hoffman

LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER by Colum McCann, read by Colum McCann

THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE by Meik Wiking, read by Meik Wiking

THE MEANING OF MICHELLE by Veronica Chambers [Ed.], read by January LaVoy, Prentice Onayemi

OPTION B by Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant, read by Elisa Donovan

OWN IT by Sallie Krawcheck, read by Ellen Archer, Sallie Krawcheck


WORD BY WORD by Kory Stamper, read by Kory Stamper

What a list. DO check some of these titles out, and DEFINITELY check out AudioFile Magazine!

*Ahem. I'm looking at you, GoodReads, also known as "Yet another way Amazon collects info on people."

**I look at a lot of nonfiction book news, and nowhere else this year did I see that Poundstone had a new book out. I like Paula Poundstone, so yay on AudioFile Magazine for bringing this title to my attention!

Citizen Reading: 11 December 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

How the Internet changed the way we write. I fully expected to be depressed by this story, but it wasn't so bad.

"What is reading fatigue?" Go read this article, so you understand one of my favorite quotes from it: "And that, I've found, is really the key to keeping reading fatigue at bay: ignoring the way our brains have been trained to read in this new social world, and just, well, do what we want."

Asian American writing's "new generation."

The NPR Book Concierge is back!

10 crafty and bookish library displays. LOVE THIS. I want to make that top book tree in my house.

Booklist and AASL: announce the Schools In Need giveaway program.

William Gass: Obituary.

Wow, E.L. James is still dominating the bestseller lists.

A new Kate Atkinson novel is expected next year.

Jacqueline Woodson has a contract for two new books.

It's not getting as much publicity as the Matt Lauer and Al Franken news, but Lorin Stein, the editor of the Paris Review, has also resigned after an internal investigation into his behavior toward female employees and writers.

YALSA 2018 Excellence in Nonfiction award: Finalists.

John Leonard Prize (for a first book): Finalists.

The Albertine Prize (for the best Francophone fiction translated into English): Shortlist.

Ferdinand (the kids' classic): is now an animated film. I love Ferdinand.

J.K. Rowling defends the casting of Johnny Depp in the next Fantastic Beasts film.

Reese Witherspoon has been sued by a writer who claims the movie (and the book) Gone Girl ripped off her work.


The Christian Science Monitor has reviewed Matt Taibbi's new book I Can't Breathe, about Eric Garner.

A new memoir by a woman whose parents' goal was to treat her so badly that she could eventually survive anything.

A new book about why we were seduced by the movie The Graduate.

New York Times: On Oliver Sacks's last book; a new history of the Ku Klux Klan; a review of Scott Kelly's memoir about his year spent on the International Space Station; on language in the digital age, by the BuzzFeed copy chief; on Bill McKibben's new book titled Radio Free Vermont.


Remember that Largehearted Boy is once again compiling the Master List of Best Books Lists for 2017.

Nylon: Best Nonfiction of 2017. An interesting list. I didn't really agree with their liking of the memoir Priestdaddy, but they followed it up by listing After the Eclipse. So yes. An interesting list.

Christian Science Monitor: Best Books of 2017.

LitReactor: Best books of 2017.

Publishers Weekly: Top Authors Pick Their Favorite Books of 2017.

The Root: The 16 Best Books of the Year by Black Authors.

Booklist Reader: Best books the week of Dec. 4.

Daily Beast: My Favorite Books by Women in 2017.

School Library Journal: Top 10 audiobooks 2017. Best Books of 2017.

The Economist: Best Books of 2017.

HuffPost: Best Picture Books 2017.

Goodreads Choice Awards: Best books 2017. LibraryReads and GoodReads win my awards this year for "Consistently Most Boring Book Lists."

New York Times: Readers recommend their favorite books of 2017.

USA Today: "Ten books our critics loved reading this year."

"9 sports books for holiday reading and giving."

Top 10 DVDS, 2017.

"Your kid just learned to read": what books should you offer?

4 cozy (and mildly scary) audio mysteries.


Neil Gaiman's "Wolves in the Walls" VR experience set to premiere at Sundance.

Free book for you...if you like reading chick lit!

The Natural Sequel CoverHi!

So good to be back. In honor of a new year of blogging (yes, I know it's December, but in January I will still be busy digesting too many big meals, and will still be exhausted from trying to make more room in the house for the new toys the CRjrs inevitably score over the holidays, to get excited about the new year), I'd like to give you a little thank-you gift for reading Citizen Reader.

Don't get too excited: it's just a PDF file of a novel I wrote for fun. Of course I had dreams of making it a publishing and paying proposition, but I can't get a literary agent interested and I am not of the type of personality that can self-publish a novel. I did look into that, but it turns out that self-publishing is a ton of work, what with deciding which service to use, formatting, making the cover, etc.

And if there's one thing I'm definitely not interested in, it's more work.

On the other hand, I did write the whole thing and I'd be beyond tickled if anyone wanted to read it (and--if you're so inclined--comment on ways in which I could improve it).

Enough already. What's it about? Here's the jacket copy I wrote:

"Eight years ago, everyone had advice for Fran about her boyfriend, Joe. Snap him up, her mother said. Lock him down, her friends said. Marry me, he said.

But who always wants to be told what to do?

The Natural Sequel is a modern twist on Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, featuring a heroine who wants to be left alone to make her own decisions."

So, there's the cover I made at the right side. I know: not great. I'm no graphic designer and I didn't want to take any more time with it (see: "not interested in more work" caveat above.) And here's the link to a PDF of the book. I'm hoping you'll get some "you time" over the holiday season, and I'd be touched beyond all reason if you'd like to spend a bit of your you time relaxing with my chick lit novel. Happy holidays!

The Natural Sequel (PDF file).

Citizen Reading: 4 December 2017.

Hello! Might I just begin by saying it is nice to be back! I missed writing CR, but more importantly, I missed your comments. In a way it was so lovely to look away from the Internet for a while, but who am I kidding? It's not going anywhere, and now I totally need to read it to keep up with Royal Wedding II news. Yes, I'm that pathetic. But Harry and Meghan are SO CUTE. You know you agree with me.

I had a very good month of work, although there's always (a lot of) room for improvement. In writing news, I got a piece about the many actors who have played Hercule Poirot published at Anglotopia, and I also entered an essay in a contest at a new parenting magazine, Parent Co.: "Grateful Is as Grateful Does." If you have a moment, would you consider checking either of those out? If you like them, and you have a Facebook account, please do consider "liking" them. And if you don't like them, please send me criticisms, okay? I need to improve and would like some pointers on how to do that. Thank you, either way. AND NOW! Citizen Reading, GAME ON:

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

What do the bestseller lists say about publishing in 2017? If you click on only one link this week, make it this one--it's a very good rundown of the year in publishing. And it has my favorite line from this week: "Meanwhile, in fiction, the psychological thriller rooted in domestic and sexual tension—the long tail of Gone Girl—remains a thriving genre. “Readers aren’t sick of those books, but everyone in the book business is,” one editor told me."

"The state of the YA novel: 2017."

Wow, the new Book Pulse site is really informative. Have you been checking it out?

USA Today reviews some of the "Best American" writing collections for you.

What do you think of this new program, wherein "white parents are addressing racism--by reading to their children"?

Amazon sucks. (Related: Barnes & Noble is struggling. Consider buying a book there this holiday season, would you? I know they're not an indie bookstore but it's still more fun to browse there than it is to click around Amazon.)

Librarian professional development: How to become a copyright expert.

National Library Partnership takes aim at low health literacy.

Make all of your displays interactive!

What makes a great financial thriller?

Why we need border fiction "more than ever."

A new kids' book aims to make your kid love Ayn Rand!

Meet the "new queens of spec fic."

Elena Ferrante is back!

Garrison Keillor has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion" is set to be renamed.

The new movie The Man Who Invented Christmas...being brought to you by a bookseller!

Christopher Bollen has won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Personally, I still think it should have gone to Matthew Klam. Kablammo!

Aspen Words Literary Prize: Nominees.

Waterstones Book of the Year: Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage.

Full list of Grammy nominations.

There's a holiday tree of books in the White House...all chosen based on their green covers. Actually, I can't be too hard on that idea. I once did a holiday book display by shelving green and red books together. It wasn't a very helpful display, but it did look kind of cool.


Somebody has written a book about the history of umbrellas.

On Tina Brown and her new book (which I totally want to read): Vanity Fair Diaries.

New York Times: A review of Walter Isaacson's new biography of Leonardo da Vinci; a biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner; a "protective" biography of Joni Mitchell; on Jonathan Eig's new (and thorough) biography of Muhammad Ali; on Great Britain's empire and its effect on cuisine; just how important is improv in the world of comedy?; a book on how dinosaurs have been portrayed in art and pop culture (a great holiday gift for that grown-up you know who still loves dinosaurs?); stunt journalist A.J. Jacobs is back, after trying to organize the "largest family reunion ever"; a book in which crime writer Lawrence Block asked other writers to create stories based on famous works of art; oh, God, another book on bookstores that I didn't write; a history of the Yiddish tabloid press; an oral history about Buffy the Vampire Slayer; for all you Anglophiles, a history of the Koh-i-Noor jewel that resides in the Tower of London; a memoir by Hal Prince; a travel writer's (Patrick Leigh Fermor) letters from the road; and a partridge in a pear tree, I mean, a new biography of Christmas.


All the end of year and "best of" book lists are coming in. This is a select list; bless Largehearted Boy, they're compiling the Master List of Best Books Lists for 2017 (for the tenth year in a row!).


New York Times: 10 best books of 2017.

Los Angeles Times: Best Fiction of 2017.

Forbes: 7 of the best business books of 2017.

Books-a-Million: Best Kids' and Teens' Books of 2017.

The Telegraph: Best Poetry of 2017.

Financial Times: Best literary nonfiction of 2017.

Booklist Reader: Best Books, Week of November 27.

LibraryReads "Favorite of Favorites" list for 2017.

Chicago Public Library: Best Books of 2017.

The Millions: 2017: Gift Guide for Readers and Writers.

Booklist: Spotlight on Sci-Tech.

"Must-read Poetry": December 2017.

Scholastic's Spring 2018 books.


Here's your first look at Jon Hamm in Gaiman's Good Omens.