2017 was a great reading year for me! I set out with a Goodreads goal to read 36 books, an average of three a month and I have exceeded that goal by reading 38 books. And there’s still three days left before the end of the year, so I’m anticipating finishing the book I’m currently reading for a total of 39.
I attribute this reading success to several factors. First of all, I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy the things that truly make me happy and reading is at the top of that list. I am making more time for reading really making it a priority. Also, joining Book of the Month Club has greatly attributed to getting good books in my hands each month. Participating in the Goodreads challenge and tracking my books on Goodreads has helped as well. AND I’ve also benefited from participating in two books clubs, one is the Modern Mrs. Darcy bookclub online and I’ve also recently joined a “real life” book club through the Spouse’s Club on post.
Here are the books that I read this year…
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. It is also an indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate for so long.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging, set in New York and China. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop as she takes a walk around her beloved city.
Marlena by Julie Buntin is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel tells the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruty Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson is a poignant look at how the best families are the ones we make for ourselves.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer. This was a hard read and one that captivated me, but I’m not sure that I would recommend.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was my favorite read of the year! It is a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was a book I read for the literature class I co-caught in our homeschol co-op last year. It is the futuristic story of a fireman named Guy Montag. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is a spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson is a timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success.
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp was a book I read with friends and I treasure the discussions we had around it.
This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick looks at practical ways to invest in and love the place where you live. It was an important book for me to read as we moved from Kansas back to El Paso, Texas this year.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance provides a searching and clear-eyed attempt to understand when and how “hillbillies” lost faith in any hope of upward mobility, and in opportunities to come.
Bear Town by Fredrik Backman explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain.
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Monica Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is a suspenseful thriller in which the main character, Lo, witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. There’s just one problem…all passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is another suspenseful thriller that kept me on my toes and up late at night reading.
Reading People by Anne Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is best described as atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed and guessing.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers—one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.
The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh centers around a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime, or just witnessed one. What’s clear to them is that if they leave, they will end up dead.
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker is thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back.
The Dry by Jane Harper finds that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng tells the story of Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead.
Braving the Winderness by Brene Brown is a timely and important new book that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green tells the story of sixteen year old Aza. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman tells the story of the Owens family. For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Now, Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Susanna sets down rules for her children, but in the end, the Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart.
The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee is the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman tells the story of Ove, a grumpy yet loveable man who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a heartwarming story about Eleanor Oliphant. Eleanor struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. It is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor is a thriller/mystery where the main character, Eddie, realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago when a mysterious chalk man leads he and his friends right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
The English Wife by Lauren Willig is a scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
I’m still reading this one, but expect to finish before the new year…
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
I’m already thinking about my reading goals for next year. I also have a good stack of books waiting to be read thanks to Christmas gifts. I can’t wait to get started!!