2017 in Review: Best of Books

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

I’m on track to meet my goal of reading 100 books in a year again! I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, but the truth is that my reading habits came tinged with both a little bit of snobbery and shame–both the product of a religious upbringing and a genuine desire to be an intelligent, well-read human. I didn’t like to admit how many romances, murder mysteries, chick lit, and easy reads I took in, even though I’ve always read “serious” novels and nonfiction in large quantities.

A couple of years ago I said to hell with it and have tried to document every book I’ve devoured on Goodreads just for the pleasure of keeping a list. I read everything. And more lately I’ve given myself permission to stop reading things I genuinely dislike (or actively hate; to this day I still grudge the hours I spent forcing myself to finish a novel in 2014). The result is unadulterated pleasure in books, and lot’s of ’em.

Favorite Young Adult: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
A stunning debut novel about race and the fractured personal experiences that make up our collective cultural psyche.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: The Crazy Rich Asian Trilogy, by Kevin Kwan
This series tells an over the top romp of a story of intertwined families, wealth, and outrageous privilege. The first books is apparently being turned into an upcoming film and I cannot wait!

Favorite New Author: Bill Bryson
He’s been around for yonks but I hadn’t read him until this year and swallowed four of his books in quick succession. His tone is delightful!

Favorite Memoir: The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
In the words of Lin Manuel Miranda, “Here comes the general, rise up!”

Favorite Romance: The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
She’s one of my favorite romance authors and in her deft hands, the old Beauty and the Beast tropes are re-rendered in a fun and interesting way.

Favorite Nonfiction: After the Prophet, by Leslie Hazelton
A historical telling of the early tensions and schisms of Islam which have continued through to today.

Favorite Novel: The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
I’m ranking this category by most “successful” on me personally. This book is a slow paced, English country house mystery/horror novel in which there are no monsters or gore, and as far as I recall no murders. Jeff still came home late one night to find me wrapped in blankets, on the sofa, with every light in the house on because the ending was so unnerving and scary. This book, alongside Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft are my highest reviewed reads of the year.

What were your favorite, or indeed most loathed, tomes of this year?

5 thoughts on “2017 in Review: Best of Books”

  1. It’s nearly 6 a.m. and I’ve just finished it. Obviously I was very engrossed by it, but my reaction now is, “what??” Is the antagonist actually who I now suppose? Or are we really to believe in the “little stranger?” The bit towards the end does seem rather murky but now I feel I need to read it again to see if the theory fits. I’m trying to discuss it without giving away spoilers on your blog! But I’m very curious to know what you thought.

    1. SO difficult to speak without spoilers, but I think the ambiguity is intentional. My biggest reaction to the book was to feel…unsettled. I absolutely love the trope of the unreliable narrator, it’s my favorite fictional device, but this was such a successful deployment of it that I was left totally unnerved. The narrator is so unreliable that the whole narrative of the book is questionable. Madness, human sinister action, supernatural sinister action, what on earth was going on?

      It’s been a while since I read it, so my memory may be very flawed, but is my lasting impression of the novel and it’s effects on me! I might need to re-read it to see if it still effects me the same way.

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