Although PJ insists that I didn’t read much last year, I did in fact read quite a few books, certainly enough to have a top 5 list. (But I’m only including books that were actually published in 2006 on the list.)

  1. Fun Home: By far, the best book I read last year was Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her relationship with her father. I’ve already blogged about it, so I’ll just refer here to my previous post. But again, it’s a great, great book.
  2. Hard: The best gay novel I read last year was Wayne Hoffman’s Hard. My previous post about it is here.
  3. The Last Time I Saw You: Rebecca Brown’s collection of short stories is amazing. I’ve decided that I won’t be teaching it next quarter in my Lesbian & Gay Lit course because I don’t think it fits with the other texts we’ll be reading, but I might teach it in my Women & Writing class over the summer. I’ve written about this book here.
  4. History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism: This book by historian Judith Bennett is the best academic book I read in 2006. (Actually, I’m still reading it, but it came out last year so I’m counting it here.) It’s a study of feminism, women’s history, and the discipline of historical studies. It’s very well written (not “academic” at all — in a good way) and I really like her perspective on the issues of patriarchy, feminism, and history. I’m also thinking about this book for my Women & Writing class this summer. Her chapter on patriarchy is simply foundational for any class that deals with “the patriarchy” as a topic. I highly recommend it.
  5. I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir: The best traditional-form memoir that I read last year is John Kilmer-Purcell’s book about his days as a boozing drag queen with a hooker drug addicted boyfriend. It’s a real page turner, to say the least. In the post-James Frey world, I guess we’re all sceptical of outlandish memoirs, but even if this book were all a fiction it would still be a great read. It reminds me quite a bit of Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs — maybe gay men are getting into a rut when it comes to memoir as a genre, or maybe this means that there’s a market for these kinds of books and that’s why they’re getting published. Regardless, I Am Not Myself These Days is an entertaining read.

I guess the most disappointing book I read last year was Leslie Feinberg’s Drag King Dreams. Well, I haven’t actually finished it yet. And I really don’t think it’s Feinberg’s fault that I’m not enjoying it — how many people write two masterpieces in one lifetime? Stone Butch Blues is one of the most amazing books ever written; it’s undoubtedly impossible to live up to that standard every time Feinberg writes a book.

I guess I need to get to a book store soon to start on 2007’s books! Any recommendations?