2017 is almost over? How did this happen? Every year goes by faster and faster. This year, I’ve been lucky to be able to read a lot of great books! I set some lofty goals and I think I came close. All told, I’ve read at least 23 full books I can remember (and/or have documented on Goodreads), although I’m sure I forgot some, and 5 half books (eg, I’ve started and am still reading them). I often read several books at once. I’ll call this an OK showing for me. It’s about 2 books a month. I’d obviously like to read much more than this, but alas, life! (as my daughter likes to say).
Of course, I love all most (almost all). It’s rare I find a book I just can’t finish or don’t want to. I also have favorites. Here are my 10 favorite books that I read in 2017. ( Note: They didn’t necessarily come out in 2017. It’s just when I read them!) There is also a definite theme to my favorite books. Maybe you’ll notice what it is. #resist
10. March: Book 2 by Andrew Aydin, John Lewis, and John Noel Claude Lewis
Why I love it: This book moved me, to actual tears. I read this on an airplane and was balling my eyes out. A kind flight attendant took pity on me and gave me a free glass of wine. If a book can make me cry, it’s automatically a contender for my favorite book list. If it can also make my stomach stir with anger and my chest tighten with hope, it’s a no-brainer it was one of my favorites.
9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Why I loved it: I have written in several of my blogs about how much I love this book. To summarize the book challenged me to think deeper about race and explore concepts I might have otherwise been afraid to. I love any book that makes me strive to be a better person.
8. Kindred by Octavia Butler
Why I loved it: Butler is touted as one of the first African American women to write a science fiction novel. It’s also a great example of the use of science fiction not as just a vehicle to tell a story, but a vehicle to make a point and turn a mirror on people and society. It’s full of complex ideas and emotions. The book hooked me so much I went out and bought the graphic novel version too, which I highly recommend for any graphic novel lovers out there!
7. March: Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Why I loved it: While there were tears shed during the reading of this graphic novel as well. What I really loved was that it showed me that this time, this generation, is just the latest in a long struggle for many to find equality and that much can be learned from the people who fought oppression before us. Plus it’s a graphic novel about the Civil Rights movement and peaceful resistance. It’s probably one of the most unique pieces of literature I’ve ever read. (If you’re interested in reading more about March, see my previous blog on the graphic novel.)
6. We should all be feminists Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Why I loved it: Obviously, I’m a fan of Adichie (see # 9 on the list). I’ve also written about this book previously in my blog as well. The quick answer as to why I loved it? It’s 64 pages of pure insight on not just feminism but the boxes we’ve forced both men and women into and the struggle to break free. There’s no excuse not to read this book. It will enlighten you, no matter who you are.
5. FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell
Why I loved it: I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. It was the first book by Rowell I’ve ever read and I know her books are much beloved. I loved it because the characters are so relatable and it’s about a girl finding her own writing voice, the writer in me felt a deep connection to her.
4. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Why I loved it: It didn’t do what I thought it would. I expected a book about a transgender girl in high school to end in some tragic Boys Don’t Cry way. I readied myself for it. And I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s just say instead of doing the expected, it did something different, something positive. It showed the good in people when faced with their prejudices instead of the bad. (Note: This is another book I’ve written about before. If you want to know more about it, read my more extensive blog in this book here.)
3. Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Why I loved it: This book was a thrill ride that I never wanted to end. What I really loved was reading a story about a girl finding the power inside her to fight back. We need more stories like this in the world. (And, like many others, if I loved it I wrote about it. Feel free to read more of my thoughts on this book here.
2. The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
Why I loved it: This book made me think, hard, not just about hate and prejudice. It’s filled with literary symbolism and written in a simple, beautiful style. I loved it for its prose and I loved it for its story and I loved it for Star, the main character. The world is a better place for bringing her character into it. Thanks, Angie Thomas. (Read more about my literary analysis of this book here.)
1. The Girls by Emma Cline
Why I loved it: This is a recent read for me. I haven’t written a blog about it yet, probably because this is the most personal book I’ve read all year. It’s about a very young girl who gets drawn into a Manson-like cult. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s, as the title would indicate, about girls, about being a girl, what it feels like, the insecurities, confusions and the path you can find yourself drawn down. I could open this book to any page, read a sentence and think, “Yes, I get that.” If you really want to understand girls and how they feel, read this book. It’s terrifying and beautiful and the best book I’ve read all year, maybe in a few years. After reading it, it quickly jumped into my top 5 favorite books of all time. It’s that good.