bukes of the year


Laugh out loud mordant.

Mary Olivier: A Life

I can’t imagine why this perceptive, penetrating novel isn’t considered a modern classic.

Of Human Bondage

This is, of course, and God knows why it took me so long to read it. It’s wonderful. I am looking forward to everything else by Maugham.

The Aquariums of Pyongyang

Included not so much for its writing as for its astonishing and chilling survivor testimony from the North Korean gulag.

The Halfway House

A despairing, beautiful, haunting account of Cuban refugees in Miami.

Lilith’s Brood

Octavia Butler was the single most important find of the year, and this may be her masterpiece.

The File

The ideal book to read on the 20th anniversary of the fall of East Germany.

The American Painter Emma Dial

As vivid and sad as a drowned bird in a swimming pool.

The Story of a Marriage

Set in my San Francisco in the forties, and containing a couple of twists that I did. not. see. coming.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

Gossipy and absorbing; good background for the appointment of Sotomayor, and terrifying in its portrayal of the ultra right wing Roberts court.

Tales from Outer Suburbia

An artifact from the world of my childhood, which never existed.

Ice Bound

The memoir of the doctor who, while wintering over at the South Pole, found a lump in her breast. A love song to the ice.

China Mountain Zhang

I didn’t know science fiction could do that.


Or that.

Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living

(sings) “C! S! I! RO!”

Seed to Harvest

Saint Octavia hear my cry.
Kamikaze Girls

Entirely responsible for my newfound love of Lolita culture.

Brother, I’m Dying

Immigration is murder.

The Girls Who Went Away

Essential companion reading and a corrective to Juno.


Not my first Butler but the first to sink its fangs into my throat, to my great delight.

Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe

Doreen Baingana c’est moi, if I had grown up in Uganda and become a wonderful writer.

Tales of Nevèryön

Reformatted my brain and opened a new eye.

The Arrival

As predicted, the best book of the year.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Smashed my heart into tiny shards.

Books by women: 14/24
Books by writers of colour: 11/24 – I owe this entirely to the fantastic 50books_poc community.
Books from the San Francisco Public Library: 18/24. I LOVE YOU SFPL.

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