My 2016 in books + 2017 goals

Long time no post. It is time to reprise my blog for 2017, but recapping my reading goals for 2016! I did a goodreads reading challenge.  This year I did a good job of tracking my books, but I wish goodreads gave me a way to tally my books by category. Maybe I should use more selves.  To recap:

My 2016 goals:

  • Read 40 books
  • Read 20 non-fiction books
  • Read 20 books by women and/or people of color


  • Read 45 books
  • Read 20 non-fiction books
  • 27 books by women and people of color
  • 22 books by women
  • 13 books by people of color

It was down to the wire, I was reading that last nonfiction book on 12/31.  During the summer I found I was behind on nonfiction books and I read 10 in a row – that was harder than expected.

Here are some thoughts on my readings:

Fave Fiction: Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani. So I ended up getting a young adult novel (oops) and it turned out to by my fave of the year. I wish there were action teen movies like this when I was a kid. The heroine finds out her dad was in the yakuza and then has to save her family. She works with her BFFs and they take on the yakuza. #squadgoals
Fave Nonfiction: Ghettoside by Jill Leovy. A title like Ghettoside does not set it self up for high hopes, but this book was excellent and felt timely for me to read. Leovy spends a few years with dedicated homicide detectives in South Central LA and follows them through lots of investigations into the murders of mostly young black men – the kind that don’t get picked up by the media or solved.
Most surprising fiction: The Cartel by Don Winslow: I usually don’t do epic books, but this was so interesting and gave you a great picture or cartel life in Mexico from multiple angles.
Runner-up: A.X.Ahmed’s series about Ranjit Singh, a Sikh immigrant trying to find home in the US, get paid and runs into all sorts of mysteries and life drama. This was basically a Stuart Woods book with a South Asian lead. #Winning. Can’t wait for the 3rd book in the trilogy.
Most surprising non-fiction: Red Notice by Bill Browder. This book was memoir by a hedge fund manager with the first fund in Russia who ends up on Putin’s blacklist. Disturbing page turner.
Runner up: True Tales from Another Mexico by Sam Quinones: This book was excellent with so many varied portraits of Mexico covering everything from popsicle town, to basketball to unions to drag shows to the “Bronxistas.”
Book I wished I skipped: The Single Shoe Mystery #1: Amazons recos failed me, this was one of the most vapid mysteries I have ever read. I was wishing the 11 you old kid would get time in the story because the adults were so annoying.
Runner up: Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang. I was really excited about this one, it’s a procedural serious about a police officer in NYC Chinatown. But I couldn’t really get over the overt racism from the White and Chinese characters against Black people. Every comment about a black person followed the refrain of “evil no good gangbanger” (or much less polite terms.) Systemic racism is no joke.

Other recos from this years reads:

  • Major Taylor Bio by Conrad Kerber – Major Taylor was a groundbreaking athlete and barely gets any press. Amazing what he accomplished in a super oppressive and segregated time (and how much he endured.)
  • Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello – this is a funny memoir about building an eBay business and the culture of luxury retail.
  • Lucifers Banker by Bradley Birkinfeld – ok it is a douchey banker, but this is an interesting expose on Swiss private banking and a reminder (in case you needed it) that big banks only care about the $$$.
  • American Pain by John Temple – pain clinics in Florida and the enterprising felons who run them but don’t quite while they are ahead
  • House of Versace by Deborah Ball – wow, fascinating family
  • Cumulus by Eliot Peper – techno thriller that takes place in Oakland
  • Disrupted by Dan Lyons – well it is basically life in Silicon Valley

And for mystery fans:

  • Jade de Jong series by Jassy Mackenzie – loved these, a South African P.I. and occasional contract killer solves mysteries
  • Detective Elouise Norton series by Rachel Howzell Hall – It is like Law & Order SVU South Central LA edition starring nuanced black women.
Lesson learned: it takes a lot longer to read non-fiction books than popcorn fiction.

2017 goals

  • read 20 nonfiction books
  • read mostly fiction by people of color

Do you have some recommendations for me?  I am tagging them here on Amazon.

Reading the week: No funding in San Mateo County for Sidewalks, Happy at the Oscars, and Troubles in Tech


Here is what is on my reading list this week:

Reading this week: Promoting Biking in Southside Chicago, Polar Vortex, and Oakstop Co-working


Thought I’d share the things that piqued my interest this week!  Enjoy.