2017 was another great year for books! I met my goal of reading 100 books and have enjoyed looking back over those hundy the past couple of days. Some quick stats:
Average Pages Per Day: 92
Average Rating: 4 stars
Repeat Authors: Erika Johansen, Gillian Flynn, JK Rowling,
Jacqueline Woodson, Kierra Cass
In 2017 I wanted to continue to read a more diverse selection of books and I am proud to say that I succeeded! The books I read last year can be divided up into 10 genres and although YA Dystopian is definitely still leading the pack, I enjoyed reading from different genres as well.
This genre remains my favorite. I just love the fantasy and the imagination as well as the tendency for YA books to be quick reads. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about books you probably know that there are few things I appreciate less than books that are unnecessarily long and YA books tend to get to the point. I’m also a sucker for those teenage romances! Here are the stand-outs from this genre that I read in 2017:
The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen – GoodReads synopsis: “Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.” And it’s wonderful.
Telling me to watch my temper is the first
and best way to wake it up.
– The Invasion of the Tearling, Erika Johansen
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – This story is so unique and powerful and dark. It’s like an old school king challenging knights to a competition, but the competition is between two magicians with this back story and teacher/family baggage and it’s fantastic.
Updraft by Fran Wilde – The people fly. Okay. They fly. This dystopian future is one where the earth is so ruined and polluted (huh – I wonder how it would get that way) that humans have had to take to the skies where they live in giant towers and travel and trade is done by flyers who wear wings and learn to soar between towers and towns. Plus there is a religious system and some magic and a tower of like, monk people. And then there is a secret! And a twist! And a surprise!
These are just general run of the mill Young Adult books with no fantasy or dystopia. These are typically the books I read when I was behind on my goal. This year I read a lot of great YA books written by and written about a wide variety of people. It was important and eye opening and I’m grateful to each author for telling their story, but especially grateful to these:
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – A love story told from the perspective of a transgender teenage girl. I read quite a bit of criticism on this book after finishing it, but I think any transgender narrator is a good step forward, right?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – This book made me laugh out loud. It also expanding my understanding on what it’s like to grow up Native in the United States today and the tension and loneliness that can come from straddling two cultures.
“You can do it.” Do you understand how amazing it is
to hear that from an adult? Do you know how amazing it is
to hear that from anybody? It’s one of the simplest sentences
in the world, just four words, but they’re the four hugest words
in the world when they’re put together.
You can do it. I can do it. Let’s do it.
– The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles – Two young women with special needs transition into adulthood. A wonderful opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez – GoodReads summary: “Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American.” This story had me WEEPING.
There were’t enough words in Spanish,
not enough words in English no matter how many classes
I might have gone to, not enough words in any language on earth,
not the right words, nothing to match the depths of what I felt.
– The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez
I read some powerful and memorable stories this year. Whenever there is a plot twist or a surprise at the end, I very rarely see it coming, which makes books like these especially fun to read:
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – This young guy gets a job at some random book store and finds himself embarking on a mysterious weirdo journey.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was one of my favorite books of the year. A woman moves in with an aged author in order to interview her and find out her story. She gets way more than she bargained for and even though I read this story six months ago there are images that still stick with me.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler – A family story that jumps back and forth between the present and the past about the early circus and tarot cards and a curse? I’m in.
I will forever be grateful for the day I realized you could read episodes of Criminal Minds. Out of the 12 thriller or suspense books that I read in 2017 I only rated three of them five stars. Two of them were by Gillian Flynn:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – GoodReads summary: “Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.” So much potential for craziness, right? Right.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – This one was AMAZING. When the main lady was younger her brother was accused of murdering her family. Now she is grown up and connected with a group who believes her brother is innocent.
This is my favorite type of nonfiction to read – books written by people about themselves that are funny and relatable. Some of the WORST books I read in 2017 were also in this category. But some of them were just awesome.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – This book set me on a Trevor Noah binge wherein I watched his stand up special on Netflix and all the YouTube videos I could find. His accent! I just can’t. But also his story about growing up mixed in South Africa was informative and important and… funny!
People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.”
That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing…
I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say,
“Okay, here’s what you need, and here’s how it works.”
– Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – Yes! Lived up to the hype. Jeannette Walls was able to write about her upbringing under the care of neglectful and possibly mentally unstable parents without being judgey or bitter. This story sucked me right in and broke my heart.
I could write about these books I read for days, but I’m sure that is more than enough. What were your favorite books from 2017? Did you read anything good?