Books of 2017: A Review in Statistics

Consider this my interlude: This is so not my favorite reading year. I gave birth to a little human in the beginning of 2017, is why.

(See my 2016 books review here, which is probably my best one yet.)

So, I read six books in 2017. And I didn’t even finish one of them. So, 5 1/4 is more like it. But I will say that two of these were absolute gems–I’m going to hold these close to my heart for the rest of my life, or until my memory gives.

Here goes what (hopefully) will be my shortest yearly book review, starting with my highest to lowest rated books of 2017:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihira – 5
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay, and Siobhan Dowd– 5
Sandman (v.1-6) by Neil Gaiman – 4
Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo – 4
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – 4
The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney – 1

And now, here’s a breakdown of the statistics I was most interested in.

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Books of 2016: A Review in Statistics

When I realized that it was the end of February already, I told myself I couldn’t keep putting off my yearly book review. Imagine my surprise when I sat down and perused my bookshelf via Goodreads for my 2017 books and realized that I had completely forgotten to review my 2016 books! Well, it did make perfect sense, considering I had recently birthed a new human being at the very start of 2017 and spent the rest of the year adjusting to that lifestyle.

I briefly considering skipping over 2016, but that was–I had the pleasure of remembering–a damn good reading year. I was pregnant for nine months of that year, which meant that my extracurricular activities had narrowed considerably, and my reading time shot up.

On the flip side, I had ceased to be pregnant in 2017 and that human I was growing suddenly became an entity outside my body that I had to look after. Therefore, as you can imagine, my reading time took a nose-dive last year.

Comparing the quantity (and quality!) of my 2016 and 2017 books, it would honestly be a tragedy if I only did a review of my 2017 books. So, this post is focused on my 2016 books. Click here for a separate review of my 2017 books.

Without further ado, starting with 2016, here are the books I read, from my highest rated to least:

Hyperion by Dan Simmons – 5
Claymore by Norihiro Yagi – 5
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick – 5
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace – 5
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson – 5
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli – 5
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo – 5
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin – 5
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz – 5
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne – 4
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – 4
Room by Emma Donoghue – 4
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin – 4
Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean by Roanna Rosewood – 4
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin – 4
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri – 4
My Friend Dahmer by Perf Backderf – 4
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – 4
Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai – 4
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – 3
American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 3
Branding Is Sex: Get Your Customers Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything by Deb Gabor – 3
Serpentine by Cindy Pon – 3
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne – 2

And now, here’s a breakdown of the statistics I was most interested in.

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The Birth of Idris Masamune Hanaumi

We pull up to the empty parking lot and I wince, contracting. When it passes, Kent asks me if I want to go in. I don’t see Andrea’s car yet, so I opt to wait a bit longer, but then Michelle walks up to us and helps me out of the car. The three of us make our way towards Austin Area Birthing Center just as Andrea arrives. Relief sets in; our access to communication is here. Wait, another contraction. Oww. Okay, it passes. Inside, I meet my midwife for the first time, Victoria, and she shows me to my birthing room.

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My Birthing Playlist

Stars The Night Starts Here
Death Cab For Cutie – Soul Meets Body
James Blunt – Out Of My Mind
Nobuo Uematsu – One-Winged Angel
Taylor John Williams – Falling Slowly 
Sixpence None the Richer – There She Goes 
The Cure – Lovesong 
Gigi D’Agostino – I’ll Fly With You 
The Presets – Girl and the Sea
James Blunt – High
Solange – Rise
Sondre Lerche – Sleep On Needles
Calvin Harris – Feel So Close
James Bay – Let It Go
Holly McNarland – Beautiful Blue
Placebo – Pure Morning
Maroon 5 – Secret
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Aqualung – Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You)
Five For Fighting – 100 Years


Releasing expectations at 39 weeks

This morning, I commenced my maternity leave from work with red raspberry leaf tea and meditation. As I felt the hot liquid trickle down my throat and warm my core, I induced my thoughts to settle like the sand in a cup of water that was recently stirred but is now still. It was then I realized what had been hovering over my head the past week: Expectation. Despite repeated caveats that every birth and every body is different, I had formed expectations.

I had been expecting labor to begin anytime since Thursday, December 29th, when I found out my cervix was 1 centimeter dilated and 60% effaced. I had been expecting to have the same experience as my mom, who was 1 centimeter dilated with me for 10 days before she went into labor (which would have been yesterday for me). I had been expecting that my baby, like me, would be one of the 5% born on their due date (it seemed fateful that the due date would fall on my mom’s birthday, January 11th). And now, two days away from the due date, with my cervix still at 1 centimeter dilated, but 80% effaced, and only mild cramps pointing to signs of labor, I am faced with the realization that it is very possible that the average delivery date for first-time moms being a week and a day past the due date will apply to me.

Most of all, I had been expecting that labor would go a certain way: free of medical intervention, sensual and otherworldly, and–like my pregnancy–relatively easy. But, as I was reminded this morning when I read a text from a friend who had recently given birth by an unexpected c-section, you can never predict how labor will go. If I find myself entering a new week next Monday still pregnant, so be it. If I find myself at 42 weeks pregnant with a 10-pounder chilling in my womb, so be it. If I find myself needing to be transferred to a hospital from my birthing center, so be it. If nothing goes the way I expected, so be it.

Sipping the last of my tea, I repeated an affirmation: My birth will happen exactly the way it should.