2023 in Review

Reading Stats

61 Books

20,992 Pages Read

Average length 346 pages

Average reading time 4 days

50 Fiction / 11 Non-Fiction

18 Fiction Anthologies

41 Novels

2 Non-Fiction Anthologies

5 Memoirs

4 Essay Collections

Top Ten Books in No Particular Order with links to my reviews

“Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection”
Edited by Madeline Dyer
Type: Fiction Anthology
“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir”
Written by Samra Habib
Type: Memoir
“The Thirty Names of Night”
Written by Zeyn Joukhadar
Type: Novel
“A Master of Djinn”
Written by P. Djèlí Clark
Type: Novel
“The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred”
Written by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Type: Essay Collection
“We Don’t Swim Here”
Written by Vincent Tirado
Type: Novel
“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019”
Edited by Ibram X. Kendi with Keisha N. Blain
Type: Non-Fiction Anthology
“Invisible Son”
Written by Kim Johnson
Type: Novel
“To Shape a Dragon’s Breath”
Written by Moniquill Blackgoose
Type: Novel
“The Free People’s Village”
Written by Sim Kern
Type: Novel

“Making It So: A Memoir” Review

A head shot of Sir Patrick Stewart takes up most of the cover with his chin resting on his clasped hands. He's wearing a black suit jacket with a green shirt under it. Written by Patrick Stewart
Published by Gallery Books, October 2023
479 Pages
Completed October 7, 2023

The long-awaited memoir from iconic, beloved actor and living legend Sir Patrick Stewart!

From his acclaimed stage triumphs to his legendary onscreen work in the Star Trek and X-Men franchises, Sir Patrick Stewart has captivated audiences around the world and across multiple generations with his indelible command of stage and screen. Now, he presents his long-awaited memoir, Making It So, a revealing portrait of an artist whose astonishing life—from his humble beginnings in Yorkshire, England, to the heights of Hollywood and worldwide acclaim—proves a story as exuberant, definitive, and enduring as the author himself.

This was quite an interesting read. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” has always been my favorite show since I was very young and Captain Picard my favorite of the captains. Sir Patrick Stewart is certainly a story teller – given his background in theater it’s not really a surprise. The memoir is very detailed and heavy with a lot of information about his childhood and background. I think some might be a little frustrated that it takes most of the book to get to his Star Trek days, but it was clear he had a lot he wanted to say about his childhood and early days working in the various theaters. Theater got him out of his situation and gave him a future so naturally that what he wanted to talk about most. It’s what he’s returned too every time in between his other work. It was also important to get through all of that to really understand how he ended up getting into Star Trek. He’d never even watched the original series, but his children had so they had to tell him what it was all about! He also talked about working on the film “Dune” and the “X-Men” movies and other films and shows. Sir Patrick was also very honest about his childhood with his violent father who abused his mother and how that impacted him growing up, and about his own mistakes in his first and second marriages. He had a lot to get through and deal with to be who he is today.

“A Two-Spirit Journey” Review

The author Ma-Nee is shown on the front cover dressed in native style holding a drum in her hands. She is looking up off in the distance. Her shirt is blue with stripes of green and red on her chest. There are ribbons attached to the stripes. She is wearing a beaded necklace that circles her neck multiple times.Full Title: “A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder”
Written by Ma-Nee Chacaby, with Mary Louisa Plummer
Published by University of Manitoba Press, April 2016
256 pages
Completed August 22, 2023

A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby’s story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.

As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. She also suffered physical and sexual abuse by different adults, and in her teen years became alcoholic herself. At twenty, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Abuse, compounded by racism, continued, but Chacaby found supports to help herself and others. Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counsellor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in Thunder Bay.

Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humour, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.

This one was a hard read especially during Ma-Nee’s childhood and teenage years. So much happened to her during that time. The only bright spot was her grandmother. I did enjoy reading about her later years and the work she did to help others. I also enjoyed the explanation of the writing process that was provided at the end of the book.

“We Have Always Been Here” Review

The cover has shapes that look like the heads and shoulders in multiple colors - light pink, dark pink, light green and dark green. The title is written out across the cover taking up most of it and then the authors name is at the bottom. There's a circle logo for the Canadian Reads that says it was the 2020 section for that award. Full Title: “We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir”
Written by Samra Habib
Published by Viking, June 2019
272 pages
Completed July 2, 2023

Samra Habib has spent most of their life searching for the safety to be themself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, they faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From their parents, they internalized the lesson that revealing their identity could put them in grave danger.

When their family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, their need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture their creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in Samra’s life wanted to police them, the women in their life had only shown them the example of pious obedience, and their body was a problem to be solved.

So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes them to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within them all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.

This was a really interesting memoir. There was so much to learn and understand about Samra and their past. I really liked learning about their history and their exploration of their own queer identity. I’m glad that Samra was able to find themselves by finding other queer Muslims to be around. I also recommend checking out their photography project (which Samra talks about near the end of the book) Just Me and Allah which documents the lives of LGBTQ Muslims.

Note: Samra now uses they/them pronouns. While previous publications about them and descriptions of the memoir may refer to Smara with other pronouns they/them is correct and should be used.

Books Finished so far in 2023

Below are the books I’ve read so far in 2023, not necessarily in order within the month of completion.

Books Finished in January

Nophek Gloss The Graven , by Essa Hansen
I liked the characters though the plot was a bit confusing and sometimes frustrating, but I still enjoyed it. I will need to check out the next book.
Black Sun – Between Earth and Sky , by Rebecca Roanhorse
This was a really interesting book. I enjoyed the different points of view characters their stories as things progressed. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jonny Sun as Jomny Sun
A surprise graphic novel! It was a fun read.
Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Zelda Knight, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spiritand Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, edited by Joshua Whitehead
This applies to the above two because I’m saying the same about both. I really enjoyed the stories in both anthologies. They each have a lot of interesting characters and stories about the characters. As with any anthology I read I look forward to looking up the various authors and seeing what else they have written.

Books Finished in February

Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
This was an interesting read – some history I already new about and some I did not. There was a lot of stuff I would say is important for us to know.
The Vanished Birdsz by Simon Jimenez
The way this story unfolded took some getting used to but I really ended up enjoying it. There’s a lot going on and a single paragraph can span several years which makes things even more interesting. The characters make it all wroth it.

Books Finished in March so far

Some Kids Left Behind: A Survivor’s Fight for Health Care in the Wake of 9/11 by Lila Nordstrom
I really enjoyed reading this and I feel like I learned a lot about the aftermath of 9/11 from the point of view of people like Lila – people who lived near the towers. There’s a lot I had never heard about or realized. Also a lot comparisons to be made about what is going on now with COVID