Well, in spite of the unforeseen fourth child who would take center stage for the rest of 2017 (post-March) and sweetly proceed to derail all previous family order and routine, I managed, somehow and not without a minor amount of “cheating” (reading some tiny fast reads!) in December, to hit my goal of reading 104 books in 2017. The most I’ve ever read in a year’s time. I am proud of myself for setting such a large goal and actually pulling it off, despite some major obstacles to my typically free-wheeling schedule.
I’ve got much more to write as it pertains to individual book reviews, genre favorites and overall recommendations, but I’ll restrict this and subsequent posts to recapping my entire list and offering super brief notes. This way I leave you coming back for more!
JANUARY 2017 (5 fiction, 1 poetry, 1 non-fiction)
- The Rosie Project (fiction), Graeme Simsion. HIGHLY recommend, top 12 favorites for the year!
- Find Your Brave (spiritual), Holly Wagner. Meh, it was good, but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking (sorry!)
- A Court of Mist and Fury (fantasy/fiction), Sarah J. Maas. TOP 12. NOT YOUNG ADULT, no matter what any bookstore tries to tell you. Beware the marketing of young adult books to your kids, moms and dads! Also, this is the second book in an ongoing series, so don’t read it as a stand-alone. And as a disclaimer, the first book is not as good as this one, but PUSH THROUGH!
- A Night Divided (historical fiction – middle school), Jennifer Nielsen. Definitely recommend for your middle schooler/young reader. I read this because my 5th grader asked me to.
- Truly Madly Guilty (fiction), Liane Moriarty. Not my favorite of Moriarty, and it only takes 5 seconds on Goodreads to see that this book did not wow many of her loyal fans. However, I would HIGHLY recommend Moriarty books on the reg. Just don’t start with this one.
- Oscar Wilde: Selected Poems, Oscar Wilde. Only served to solidify my lack of interest in poetry. This was actually painful, which I hate to admit. Maybe it was just bad selections on the editor’s side?
- The Peach Keeper (fiction), Sarah Addison Allen. Fun and easy read. Definitely a weekend or vacation pick up.
FEBRUARY 2017 (8 fiction, 5 non-fiction)
- Coraline (fiction – middle school), Neil Gaiman. A little on the scary side, per typical Gaiman style. Know your kid and their sensitivities before you let him/her pick this one up.
- Troublemaker (memoir), Leah Remini. Part (mostly) tell-all, part memoir/bio. Truthfully I picked this up to get the inside dish on Scientology and wacky celebs (i.e. Tom Cruise), no other reason. And she delivers!
- Freakonomics (non-fiction), Steven Levitt. Meh. Psychology was my college major and I enjoyed some of this because of how they tie in psychology and social behavior to our environment and economy dynamics, but wouldn’t hand it out as a recommendation. I would recommend and probably enjoy the podcast as entertainment more than the reading of this book.
- Because of Winn-Dixie (fiction-young reader), Kate DiCamillo. Cute story, and the audiobook was charming. Great as a family read-aloud option.
- Jesus Among Secular Gods (spiritual), Ravi Zacharias. HEADY and requires some thinking. Would recommend if you enjoy C.S. Lewis or Henri Nouwen or need to reboot your smarts after indulging in too much reality television.
- Killing Lincoln (non-fiction), Bill O’Reilly. Listened on audiobook, and thoroughly enjoyed. Even when I knew what was coming, I was still tense and nervous! It’s a great narrative on the assassination of Lincoln.
- The Gallery (fiction – young reader), Laura Fitzgerald. Meh. Ever feel like a book is trying too hard??
- Commonwealth (fiction), Ann Patchett. My first time to read a Patchett novel, and I only picked up b/c the cover was cute. I did this one half audio/half book, and enjoyed it. Not enough to remember that I read it and tell everyone about it, but enough to remember that I had a good time reading/listening.
- A Man Called Ove (fiction), Fredrik Backman. LOVED. Cried, laughed out loud, got angry… lots of full-scale emotions during this one. A top favorite for the year and I highly recommend. In my mind it’s a modern classic, but I know there are some who just couldn’t get into it.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (fiction), Margaret Atwood. If you have not heard of this one then I’m positive you must have slept through 2017. I honestly grabbed this prior to the sudden craze, only because it was on the Amazon Top 100 Reads list and I’m trying to read everything there. It’s very good, very well-written and very dark. Would not recommend across the board, but I “enjoyed” it.
- Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (non-fiction), Stephen James. I have to read this one all over again. So much to take in. Every mom could use a little help sometimes and this had some great moments.
- Catcher in the Rye (fiction), J.D. Salinger. LOVED. Hilarious, full of cheek and personality, also some scandal and swearing, so just know that. SO cleverly written and obviously a classic. Once you read it you can understand why. One of those main characters you love and appreciate as a fictional person and not someone you have to actually do life with. Yikes.
- Misery (fiction), Stephen King. My first King novel, and definitely not my last. I wouldn’t classify this as horror myself, but definitely creepy, dark, and gory. Stephen King is a genius storyteller, even if you don’t love his genre or topics. I would never pick up ‘It’, but I’ve got The Shining on the backburner…
- When Breath Becomes Air (memoir, non-fiction), Paul Kalanithi. Heartbreaking and beautiful. Be ready to cry.
- The Sparrow (fiction), Mary Doria Russell. Sci-Fi for sure. This one took me a little while to get into… It’s very different, but pretty cool. That said, I am not interested in picking up the sequel or prequel. Has a bit of an Avatar feel to it.
- Pretending to Dance (fiction), Diane Chamberlain. Book Club Pick. Decent storyline. Quick read. Didn’t love, didn’t hate.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (fiction), Mark Twain. I am SO pleased to say that I fell in love with this book unexpectedly. I never had any desire to read Twain, but man I enjoyed Tom so much! And I am always glad to say I’ve clocked another classic.
- Curious Case of Benjamin Button (fiction), F. Scott Fitzgerald. Strange… Sad. Didn’t love, didn’t hate. It’s basically a long short story if that makes sense.
- One True Loves (fiction), Taylor Jenkins Reid. Easy read, great for a weekend or a getaway. Good story, but nothing too original. I enjoyed it for a random pick up.
- One In A Million Boy (fiction), Monica Wood. LOVED THIS BOOK. Rich in characters and a sweet, original, well-developed plot. Would absolutely recommend. I know my book club was kind of ambivalent, but I think across the board this book would be well-received. Would make a great movie.
- Dark Matter (fiction), Blake Crouch. Great thriller and an interesting concept. Another that would make a good movie someday. If you like fast-paced thrillers I would suggest this one! Almost everyone in book club was a fan.
- Another Brooklyn (fiction), Jacqueline Woodson. Meh.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (fiction), J.K. Rowling. I REALLY had some hesitation going into this one. Not that I wouldn’t want to drag out HP as long as possible, but I just couldn’t get over my fear that this would spoil something magical (no pun intended). It was great. I loved being back in that world again. If you’re an HP fan and you’re nervous about this one, don’t be.
- Forgotten God (spiritual, non-fiction), Francis Chan. I wish I had read this in a hard copy not kindle… I feel like it needs another read through. But I think it is a great read for someone looking to understand the Holy Spirit.
- Red Queen (fiction), Victoria Aveyard. I honestly do not understand why this book was so popular. Reads like every other dystopian YA book out there just less interesting. #sorrynotsorry.
And that’s the first quarter reading recap for 2017. I started off swinging!
To give a final wrap up on this 1st batch, here’s your top 5 recommendations:
First Place: A Man Called Ove
Second Place: Rosie Project
Third Place: A Court of Mist and Fury (I don’t think this would fly for everyone, but I simply can’t leave it off my top 5. EVER.)
Fourth Place: One in a Million Boy
Fifth Place: When Breath Becomes Air
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Dark Matter, and if you want to revisit classics, Tom Sawyer and Catcher in the Rye.