renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
To say my reading goals were high for 2016 understates the case. I refuse to say they were unrealistic. They were simply not quite doable for someone who has varied interests and also has trouble focusing for long periods of time on one task (in this instance, reading) due to Anxiety Brain and depression. I adjusted a bit in May, toned down some goals, and started tracking them differently. It's been a big help!

I also wanted to read more nonfiction. I've read seven pieces so far in 2016. That's more at this point in the year than any other since college! \o/ I'm finally trusting that I'm smart enough to parse, critique, and understand nonfiction. My goal is to have a year where I can read 15-20 nonfiction titles. But as the fall book season approaches (and Worldcon!), I'll be happy this year if I make it to 10.

100 Unique Women Writers

Predictably, my reading challenge hit the skids due to illness and life. I'm at 26/100, which is pretty great given that most of the books making up the list are prose. There's a few pieces of sequential art and one piece of short fiction, but the majority is books. Since novelettes count toward this, I'll catch up when I read some of the ones that are hanging out in my jar. I'm still using the jar, but Doreen is on holiday and I've been drawing three at a time and choosing from those instead of taking the first draw only.

What I have learned: I am a big fan of quotas! Quotas are helpful as long as you don't make them too restrictive and give yourself breaks. They helped me find a lot of great books. Eight of my favorites were read deliberately as part of my reading challenge with its built-in quota! Because it was so flexible I never felt boxed in or trapped. Quota power! *\o/*

Overall I'm pretty happy, although I feel like I'd be doing better if I wasn't getting socked in the brain by chemical imbalances all the time. But I'm working harder at remembering to be kind to and patient with myself.

Here's my list of my favorite reading so far in 2016, in no particular order!

2016 Mid-Year Favorites

cover of Binti with a black girl's face on a pitch black background rubbing orange mud with orange fingers onto her faceblue and white starburst gradient cover of Year of Yes title and author name is bold red text with a gold shadowwhite color of My Love Story with transparent art of the three main characters and the title in bold pink

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti wants to go to university, so she leaves her home against the wishes of her family and immediately everything goes wrong. But Binti is clever and tough and quick-thinking, and what follows after disaster is watching her step up and be a hero. This was part of's novella line, and it's created some neat dialogues around conflicts between cultures, death, accountability, and consent. There's a lot to chew on. I loved the friendship in this book the most out of everything.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
I don't watch any of the television Shonda Rhimes creates (I am so bad at television), but I saw a rec for this book and grabbed it on a whim when I spotted it at the library. It's very funny and self-aware, and it made me feel much better about anxiety-ridden me.

My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara & Aruko
[ profile] rozurashii recced me this manga. It's still in progress and I've only read the first seven volumes, but I love how adorable and comfortable this manga is. Takeo and Yamato are the most precious Teens. There's cute romance! Great friendships! Delicious food! It is truly a hug in manga form.

blue black cover of Ninefox Gambit with spaceships flying towards a huge space fortresscover of Monstress with an dark haired Asian young woman in a white robe standing in front of an elaborate animal statue as she looks over her shouldercover of Ms Marvel and Kamala pulling open her dress to reveal her costume as she runs to battle

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
This is the weirdest and most fascinating book I've read so far this year, featuring a disgraced captain, a disembodied general who is a tactical genius, and Robot Pals. I reviewed this for Barnes & Noble and then wrote more feelings here, too. Highly recommended for people who like their books to brain wrestle with them.

Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
This is a gorgeous comic about war, power, and race, and an exploration of what creates monstrous people. What does it mean to be a monster to yourself, your friends and family, in the world? The art is stunning and its darkness compliments the darkness of the story perfectly. I read this in floppy, but I am so tempted to get the trade when it drops later this July because the art is that good.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa , Adrian Alphona, Nico Leon, & Ian Herring
I love Ms. Marvel. She's one of my favorite superheroes right now, and her positivity and empathy as she navigates hero culture while juggling school, friends, and family is heartwarming. This volume is about Kamala being overworked and stretched too thin to keep track of everything going on around her and it's lovely and hilarious. The writing and art are top-notch and the whole volume holds together perfectly. This is why I keep pulling this comic instead of switching to trade only: it's so good.

orange red cover of Mars Evacuees with the dark silhouettes of four kids posing in standing positioncover of the Steerswoman with a blue stone attached to a keychain lying on top of a spread open mapcover of Downbelow Station with a small image of a space station orbiting a close planet on the left side of the cover

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougal
This was a delight; adventures on Mars and in space! Teamwork between friends! More Robot Pals! Girls being super smart and it not being something that drives them apart. First contact between human and alien pre-teens! *happy sigh*

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
This was a great Lady Friendship story complete with Competence Porn and entertaining applications of the scientific method. There's a mystery at the center of this fantasy narrative and it's great. I loved the relationship between Bel and Rowan so much. I'm so glad there are sequels to this!

Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
This was my first Cherryh! It was densely political, but it has some of the greatest, most subtle world building and characterization. I ended up super entralled. It reminded me so much of how Kate Elliott layers her stories and then punches you in the gut with final revelations. Sign me up for more of Cherryh's work.

cover of All the Birds in the Sky with the title and author name in bold text over a blue background and a bird pattern overlaid on topcover of Illuminae with an orange-tinted nebula with random text and redacted text running through itcover of A Darker Shade of Magic with a red caped figure jumping from a black circular cityscape to a red circular cityscape

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
This book has been Controversial at Lady Business HQ on what it gets right and what it misses on, but I continue to really like the story it's telling and am still fond of getting a story that has a mixture of fantasy and science fiction and romance that respects all of those different things and builds something fascinating with it. Can I count this in Robot Pals? I think I can, so I will. Another win for Robot Pals.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
This is a science fiction thriller set in space after a vicious attack, and what happens when disaster strikes after the survivors flee. There' A.I....but I would not put this in the Robot Pal category. I loved Kady and her skill with computers and her desire to rescue someone she cares for when they're all she has left.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I'm so late to the Schwab party, but consider me fully on board. This was an entertaining jaunt through multiple fantasy worlds that is my favorite kind of fantasy: not too heavy, great characters, and a straightforward quest narrative that actually has a resolution, leaving the loose ends to be not plot-related but character-related. I have the sequel to this but haven't cracked it open yet. SOON.

gray black cover of The Vagrant with a man holding a baby walking toward the viewer away from a destroyed cityspaceblue and black cover of Saga Volume 6 with two cloaked figures staring into a dense cityspacecover of Black Wolves with a close up of a tattooed man wielding a sword in the midst of a fight with an unseen opponent

The Vagrant by Peter Newman
I am super surprised I loved this so much, but I loved all the main characters, and there was a baby! Apparently the way to get me to like super dark fantasy: queer characters (I do what I want), core of optimism, and BABIES. I have been promised a copy of The Malice (which isn't out here yet) in August when Ana and I meet at Worldcon. CANNOT WAIT.

Saga Vol. 6 by Fiona Staples & Brian K. Vaughan
I jammed this in my eyes the day it released, which is why it's on the list. I was maybe 5% nervous they wouldn't pull off the continuation after the last volume's cliffhanger, but they managed to and also leveled up. I'm so into the direction of this comic now that certain characters are a big part of the narrative. I am so sad I gobbled it up so fast and there's not another volume until next year, since I KNOW I cannot handle this comic in individual issues. *puts on waiting pants*

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott
HA HA HA THAT'S RIGHT. THIS WHOLE ENTRY WAS AN ELABORATE PLOY TO REC BLACK WOLVES AGAIN. Because I still love this ridiculously huge book even more than I did in 2015. It ages in my brain so well! It's got staying power. I wrote some reviews of this book. Maybe one will sway you! Team #BlackWolves! >D >D >D


I debated including stats because in the past few years they've been stressful for me (ugh, math) and the people around me (who have to repeatedly explain to me how to do percentages). But they're useful in seeing some of my trends. The totals are gonna be a little wonky, because some of the categories overlap and also I count artists as creators. :)

All Items: 89
Books: 27 (30%)
Short Fiction Collections & Anthologies: 4 (4%)
Short Fiction: 3 (3%)
Graphic Novels/Comics: 8 (9%)
Floppy Comics: 33 (37%)
Manga: 17 (19%)
Non-Fiction: 7 (8%)
Library Books: 25 (28%)
Digital: 9 (10%)
Women (unique): 56 (63%)
Men (unique): 45 (51%)
POC (unique): 18 (20%)
New Women: 26 (29%)
New POC: 14 (16%)

That's been my literary 2016 so far. What have you loved?

Date: 2016-07-04 08:33 am (UTC)
tamsin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tamsin
Do you know garridebs's Monstress vid? I think you might like it.

Date: 2016-07-04 08:41 pm (UTC)
tamsin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tamsin
It's really good. I don't know the comic - though I plan to read it - and it made me feel so much for Maika.

The Vagrant

Date: 2016-07-04 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When you mentioned queer characters in your section on The Vagrant, do you mean the book has queer characters? Or where you just talking about what you like in general.

Date: 2016-07-04 07:57 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I loved Year of Yes. Downside, I am now always constantly hoping every essay/self-help collection will be just as good and they just are not.

Black Wolves - yay (just because).

I am attempting to order Ninefox Gambit through our shop - wish me luck!

And turns out The Vagrant author is coming to our shop btw.

Date: 2016-07-04 08:38 pm (UTC)
bluemeridian: Bright red autumn olive berries (Default)
From: [personal profile] bluemeridian
I've started listening to Black Wolves! (Do you get a toaster after you get a certain number of people to read it?) I haven't gotten to the downfall yet so it's very nail biting waiting for it.

Date: 2016-07-05 04:45 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
For some reason I was never able to get into Cherryh's Union/Alliance books. But I adore the Chanur series, with its really ALIEN aliens (methane-breathers who speak in matrix messages!) and an early example of good gender trope-inversion. There's some wonderful character growth in it too, especially watching Pyanfar mature from basic competence into a true cultural and political leader.

Date: 2016-07-05 05:49 am (UTC)
viridian5: (Maze by James Jean)
From: [personal profile] viridian5
I bounced off the first Chanur book hard, which is unusual since I enjoy the majority of Cherryh's work, but loved the rest of the series.

Date: 2016-07-05 04:38 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
"Dense and political" is one of those things that may or may not work for me, depending largely on the flavor of the politics. I would say that the Chanur books are pretty political as well, but it's different from the Union/Alliance politics. But there's a trilogy-long arc about Pyanfar learning to maneuver thru increasingly-wider political circles, which I found fascinating.

Date: 2016-07-06 01:05 am (UTC)
calissa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] calissa
I think it's always a good idea to tweak goals at the mid-point. Most of us aren't clairvoyant, after all, and life has a tendency to throw curve balls.

I really need to get on to reading Illuminae, especially as I'm likely to end up with the sequel for the Aurealis Awards.

Date: 2016-07-06 10:20 pm (UTC)
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
From: [personal profile] calissa
Wow, that's a huge target! Have you read 150 books in previous years or were you shooting for a record?

I'm glad you have people looking after you. *hugs*

Illuminae definitely sounds intriguing! Now, if I could just get through a few more books so I could get to it...

Date: 2016-07-18 10:06 pm (UTC)
calissa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] calissa
Good luck!


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