Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of 2017: Books

2017 was, once again, just an okay reading year. I unfortunately didn't find any new favorites, and life was so busy that I didn't read nearly as much as I usually do. But still, there were plenty of books that I enjoyed this year!

Best book: I wouldn't consider it a favorite book or anything, but in terms of simple enjoyment, it was probably Something New. I really like Lucy Knisley's graphic novel memoirs...they're fun and quick reads. I thought it was funny that this was the first book I read in 2017, and in my review I mentioned that the thought of planning a wedding seemed overwhelming and stressful. I didn't know that a couple months later I'd be planning my own wedding. :)

Worst book: Make 'Em Laugh, by Debbie Reynolds. I really liked her previous two memoirs, but this one just seemed completely unnecessary. It was dull and repetitive, and it was a sad experience to read it not long after her death.

Biggest surprise: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Finally, a Neil Gaiman book that I actually loved! :)

Biggest disappointment: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. I was really looking forward to this collection of short stories. I thought they would be quirky and wonderful, and the cover is gorgeous. But they were just a little too weird for me, in a way that I don't find appealing.

As I've said repeatedly, I didn't get much reading done this year, so understandably I didn't do so great with my goals. Here's a recap...

-Read 60 books. I only read 46.

-Get my own-but-unread books down to 100. I was so close to this goal at one point! So close. And if I'd read a little more then I definitely would have met this goal. But then after the books I got for Christmas, I'm back hovering around 120 again. Getting better every year though!

-Read 5 new-to-me classics. Not quite, but if you define classics very loosely, then I read three this year. Two "modern classics": Cold Comfort Farm and The Haunting of Hill House. I also read a children's classic, The Trumpet of the Swan.

-Read a really big book. Nope. None at all.

What were your favorite and least favorite reads of 2017?


  1. 120 UNREAD books, oh my. I like how you structured this post. I shall do my top 5 this week.

    1. I know, it's crazy! That's why I'm putting myself on a book buying ban. (It's just too easy to buy cheap books quicker than I can read them!)

  2. I didn't have a lot of new faves in fiction. I put down a lot of books fiction and non-fiction. What I'm happy about is starting to develop a decent scholarly/serious nonfiction habit.

    46 is good for a busy year. I'm not great when I have slow periods, so I have no idea how I'd handle a busy year.

    1. I do enjoy nonfiction a lot too, but usually memoirs and such rather than ones that could actually be called scholarly. :) 46 was decent, but I wish it had been more.

  3. Oh, man. You made me want to count my unread books... but also not. ;) I think that I have at least 500. :/ I used the library a lot last year and got better about saving money rather than buying ALL the books, but I still have a bit of a problem. :)

    I really got into nonfiction in last year, which was a surprising and fun twist to my reading life. I hadn't read much nonfiction since I went through a serious phase in high school, and in the past few years had kind of (irrationally) convinced myself that the genre was dry and boring. And hard. ;) It turns out that that isn't the case. :D

    Some of the books I read for the first time in 2017 that stand out to me (in no order, and probably missing some great ones in a glaring and tragic oversight...):
    Creativity Inc. - Nonfiction about Pixar's history and their philosophy of fostering creativity in the workplace. Going into the book, I thought that it would mostly be behind-the-scenes goodness and anecdotes about making their movies. It really didn't have a ton of that sort of content, but I highly enjoyed the managerial perspective and thought the whole book was really interesting.
    Echo - Middle grade historical fiction/magical realism. Music plays a prominent role in this book, and the audiobook was great because it included instrumental elements rather than just seeing music on the page. I definitely think that this is one of those instances where the audiobook has a distinct advantage over print.
    The Mischief of the Mistletoe - A fun, fluffy, Christmassy, regency romance with Scarlet Pimpernel and Bertie Wooster vibes. :) I just read this a few days ago in the effort to read a holiday-themed book before it was too late, and was so pleasantly surprised. I hardly ever read romance (due to a low tolerance for sappiness, and a propensity for eye-rolling ;), and didn't expect to have a stupid grin on my face throughout the book. :D
    Lonesome Dove - A beast of a western that made me laugh and (almost) cry. I don't cry easily at all, but if I was a crier, this would have done me in.
    The Light Between Oceans - Historical fiction set in Australia about a young couple living by themselves on a remote island (in a lighthouse). Something about the story and language really gripped me.
    Just Mercy - Nonfiction about our criminal justice system and the death penalty. This was so sad and good, and sent me down a long trail of books about similar issues.
    In Cold Blood - Very gripping true crime/imaginative nonfiction. I totally see why it's a classic now.
    The Golem and the Jinni - Magical realism/historical fiction with great atmosphere and a unique storyline.
    The Brothers K - Family drama about baseball, religion, politics, and relationships (weird combo, but it totally works). This had a lot of offensive language, but I really, really liked the story, characters, and writing. I hate it when I like a book so much, but am unable to recommend it widely because of something like language. :/
    A Mother’s Reckoning - Sue Klebold's (the mother of one of the Columbine shooters) memoir/account of the tragedy. I remember being at my Grandparent's house near Denver when this happened when I was eight, and seeing it unfold on the news. Seeing the story from Sue's perspective was heartbreaking and thought provoking.

    1. Apparently I exceeded the amount of characters allowed in a comment, which is a little sad. I do like talking about books. ;) Anyway...

      Least favorite:
      Revolutionary Road - This modern classic had been on my shelf for forever, and I finally picked it up with confidence that I would like it. But yeah, I didn't like it at all. I couldn't get past the intensely unlikable, angsty, and selfish main characters. I didn't even like or appreciate the writing style. At least I was able to finally take it off my shelf and make room for another book. :)
      When Dimple Met Rishi - This was a YA contemporary new release that I kept seeing everywhere. This is definitely not one of my go-to genres, but sometimes I'm curious to see what all the fuss is about. I should know better by now. The main character was awful and rude (with no character arc), the "romance" was terrible, and there was no plot. Hopefully I learned my lesson. ;)

      Okay. I could probably go on, but I'll leave it there. I read a lot of books in 2017, and my goal for this year is to actually read less. I'd like to make myself to watch some TV shows that I've been putting off (and finally pick up some hats that I've been wanting to knit!), and maybe learn to draw and do some hand lettering. Reading is easily my favorite hobby, but I feel like I need to force myself to make space for some other things. I might even make more of an effort to go out and be social every once in a while. ;)

      Thank you for sharing your year in reading! And apologies for the ridiculous ramble of a comment - I'm pretty sure that I say that every year when I comment on this post! ;)

    2. Ha, I love long bookish comments! :) I've heard really good things about Echo and almost picked it up a couple of times, but now maybe I'll wait and try the audiobook! And I saw the film The Light Between Oceans.

      Every time I see your progress updates on Goodreads I think, wow, she reads a lot! :) I know how it is balancing hobbies though. I try to figure out the best times to knit or read or whatever to maximize the time I have, ha.


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