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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 10 Books of 2017

This was a banner reading year for me. My goal was to read 52 books (a book a week), and in the end Goodreads tells me I've read 67 books. That is the most in my recorded history, and I'm exceptionally proud of that number considering we had some extremely stressful and crazy times this year (including the month we moved, where I managed to read one measly book, so clearly I made up my numbers elsewhere, which makes that number even more impressive).

Anyway, we've now come to the end of 2017, and it's time for one of my favorite posts of the year! Actually, this is also one of the hardest posts of the year. Like I said last year, choosing my top 10 reads feels so arbitrary. Some are super obvious and fully deserve to be on this list, but others got on here just by whim. If I wrote this list last week or next week, it would look different. There were sooo many favorites, so many good reads this year, and it's super hard to whittle down just the top 10. Other books I read may actually stick with me longer or deserve to be one here, but at this moment, this is what my top 10 list looks like.

Just a note, I'm not including any of my re-reads from the year. Otherwise, this list would be entirely dominated by Jane Austen (as I re-read her entire oeuvre in the last quarter) and L.M. Montgomery (as I finished up my re-read of the Anne series earlier this year).

Okay, here we go:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Oh, how I loved this one! The writing was just amazingly beautiful, the characters so pointedly drawn, the humor just so exactly my type. I want to re-read this again some day to savor it slowly. Just beautiful.






My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

The surprise hit of the year! I had zero expectations for this book, and spent the first half very unsure if I could handle this sort of historical playfulness, but in the end, it won me over completely! It was so funny, so ridiculous, so sweet and romantic, so imaginative, and just so, so much fun. Can't wait to read the next one they write.





To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

New favorite author of the year (and new favorite author name as well). This book is perhaps not quite as memorable as The Snow Child (see below), but I related to the main female character in this one quite a bit, and it has some spectacular writing and really beautiful moments, and if I were to re-read any of Ivey's books, this is the one I'd want to re-read first.





The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This. This is what I want my magical realism to be. This book was beautiful and magical and wonderful in every way. Read it in the winter.








Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I don't have enough words to express how deeply happy this book made me, but also how deeply sad. I defy anyone who reads this book not to fall in love with Amy, and then not to cry bitter tears with the knowledge that she died too young.






The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I have such a hard time recommending this one, because the language is really hard to handle. But it's been a long time since I've read a YA book that's stuck with me the way this one has. There was so much to think about here, so many ways this book changed my perspective or made me think about questions of race in ways I hadn't before. I used to live in South Side Chicago, and the descriptions of Garden Heights felt very similar to the areas around where we lived (although my specific neighborhood was rather more white). It was just interesting to hear this kind of voice, which does not get represented in literature enough.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

I have to admit that I'd kind of forgotten about this book until I was going back through my Goodreads archives to make this list. But once I started thinking about it, and thinking about the incredible writing, and the intricate descriptions of poverty, and friendship, and relationships, I couldn't not put this one on the list.





Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Again, the language and content make me hesitant to recommend this one, but again, the writing and the impact this one made on me make it too important to not include on the list. It was just so, so, so good. Backman is an incredible writer.






The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Probably the best non-fiction I read this year. It was a fabulous story, and I was amazed at Brown's ability to make me feel the drama and suspense of these races (that I knew the outcome to!) so much that I was sitting on the edge of my seat biting my fingernails through the whole read.






Deep Work by Cal Newport

I went back and forth on whether to include this one or one of the many other ones that deserve a spot on this list. I'm not actually sure if this one will stick with me the way the other books on this list have. I only just finished it two days ago (I'll talk more about it on my December reading-wrap-up), and maybe I'm only inclined to include it because it's fresh and on my mind. But whatever. It was fascinating and I really liked a lot of what he talked about, and there's not enough non-fiction on this list anyway, so it gets a spot.




Some reflections on this reading year in general: I read some amazing books this year. It was one of my best reading years ever, and I'm very happy about that. I read the most books I've ever read in a year (something I'm still thinking about and will probably write a post about soon). There was more literary reading and classic reading and re-reading of favorites, and that was fun for me. That being said, I feel like there were some holes. I didn't read nearly as much YA or middle grade fiction as I usually like to, or even as much nonfiction as I usually like to. I'm kicking around the idea of making some more intentional reading goals for next year, but I've yet to decide if I'm in a place to make that work. I'll let you know what I decide when I post about my resolutions.

Anyway, how was your reading year?







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