2022 Books of the Year
I love reading!
It was an interesting year for reading! I started gravitating towards fiction for the first time in a few years. I barely read anything about music after winter thawed into sprint. Like 40% of the books I read I heard about from listening to Gender Reveal.
I do notice that an embarrassing amount of my favorite books of the year are by white-trans people: I think my excitement about feeling like I knew now, better than ever, which stories are going to make me feel seen blinded me a bit from the other joy of reading, which is living vicariously through adventures. 2023 I think is going to include a lot more fiction, and a lot more perspectives, than 2022.
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The year started off with me feeling like I was in this kinda weird funk that I was having a hard time naming, that I still don’t really know the cause of, so I was escaping into one of my old comfort zones - the rock-n-roll story. I delighted in Tranny by Laura Jane Grace, all about growing up trans and an anarchist in Florida of all places. Grace’s discussion of the development of her identity was really beautiful to me, along with the behind-the-scenes looks from Warped Tour (you wanna talk about whether or not punk is dead).
Almost right after I dove into the gorgeous textures of Just Kids by Patti Smith, a classic that it was about time for me to sit down with. When I look at the spine of this book these days, it transports me to the breakroom of Coveside Coffee where I used to work - I would read that book down there and eat knishes during my shift break and feel cozy as all get out. Patti Smith is such an incredible writer, everything she writes feels like it’s turning the page that you’re reading into a thick scrap of parchment paper that you found in your etherial aunt’s attic.
Like I said earlier, I read a lot of books this year about the trans* experience - I have a good time keeping my ear to the ground about which books might be in the “trans cannon” and what kind of fun we can have with the cannon. The books that rewarded that curiosity the most - Darryl by Jackie Ess, is like a person slowly realizing that they’re caught in the web of trans storytelling. The central character, Darryl, and his wife start getting into an “alternative lifestyle,” that leads to a lot of self discovery. The first 40 pages of Darryl were a little debauched for me, but once I got over that hump I got really engrossed in the story.
For memoirs, I was really moved by Natural Mother of the Child by Krys Malcolm Belc, all about their lifetime of gender dysphoria and the way that that interacted with becoming a parent, having a pregnancy, and giving birth. I couldn’t put it down and loved the playful writing style and structure. I also really liked Man Alive, by Thomas Page McBee, which is all about trauma, transition, and doing things the hard way. I read that book in one day while I was on vacation in New York City sitting on a balcony drinking instant coffee. Dreamy stuff.
and of course, I read Nevada by Imogen Binnie. I loved it.
A few more favorites:
The Faggots and their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell, with illustrations by Ned Asta. I loved the revolutionary storytelling and the fable structure. A masterpiece of worldbuilding, and really good for the spirit.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Not anything like I was expecting! I was not expecting such a relevant story about the way inhospitable labor conditions create inhospitable family conditions, and vice versa.
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker Martin. Cinematic, terrifying, teleportation. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Felker Martin.
happy new year!
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