Although I didn't read as much this year as I did last year, it was still an interesting year in books. Here are my top 10 books this year with a short blurb as to why they made the list (as always, these are listed in the order I read them):
Susan Power, Sacred Wilderness. This was a new book that I taught in my American Indian literature class. I appreciated its emphasis on spirituality while still being a funny, redemptive read.
Joseph Harris, Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. This is a book that I read with my students in my portfolio class. It helped us understand a variety of ways in which we can use other people's ideas in our own writing. My students told me that they wished they had read this much earlier in the program since it deepened their understanding of how to use others' arguments to develop their own ideas.
David Treuer, The Translation of Dr. Apelles. This book. Wow. Good enough to include two years in a row (since I reread it this year). A gorgeous, postmodern novel that students in my American Indian literature class adored.
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. This was one of a couple of novels I felt I was way overdue in reading (another was Anne of Green Gables--which I had never read before). Interesting exploration of global dynamics after 9/11.
Joseph Boyden, The Orenda. It took me awhile to get into this novel, which had been recommended to me by a clerk at Birchbark Books (Louise Erdrich's bookstore in Minneapolis). The novel really took hold of me, though, enough that when I found out about the controversy surrounding Boyden towards the end of my reading, I was really disappointed.
Randa Jarrar, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. I loved this collection of short stories written by my Fresno State colleague and friend. Randa has a unique voice: funny, insightful, timely.
Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again. One of my students chose to do a unit plan on this novel in verse, so I decided I needed to read it. It's a thoughtful novel about the challenges of immigration.
Linda Lawrence Hunt, Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America. This historical examination of two daring women's journey walking from Washington to New York was fascinating.
Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down. A couple of students tweeted that this novel was a free download for a short time and that it was a quick read. Although I was grading, I stopped to read this fascinating examination of a teenage boy's response to his brother's death: the desire for revenge and stepping away from the cycle of violence.
Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow. The last book I read this year. I really enjoyed this novel that I think was ultimately about friendship and ingenuity against the backdrop of 20th century Russian history.