Hello, fellow book nerds!
This week, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. I had hoped to get this post up earlier, but here we are!
I posted recently about my completed POPSUGAR Challenge. This post is going to be much smaller, as I reflect back on my Top 10 Books/Series that I read in 2017. While I’ve read dozens of wonderful stories this year, I’m excited to focus in on these titles!
#1: Beartown, Fredrik Backman
I absolutely love Fredrik Backman, and I was totally blown away by this book. This story is very different from Backman’s traditional topics, but he handles the subject matter like a pro. I loved the setting, the characters, the conclusion… everything! I especially enjoy how much time Backman spends developing individual characters, even those on the sides of the plot, and expertly winding their lives together. I think this book was very timely, and it gives a gritty look at culture and how we handle controversy when our “celebrities” are involved.
#2: The Child Thief, Brom
This book is a dark spin-off on the Peter Pan myth. Anyone who knows me knows I love Peter Pan. I actually avoided this book for years, because Brom’s Peter is an antihero with a serious dark streak. Despite my worries about whether or not I’d like this Peter, it turns out that The Child Thief was the version of Peter’s story that I’d been missing! I absolutely love Brom’s characters. His story is the perfect blend of darkness and a harsh look at the reality of the human condition. I’m so glad I finally read this one, and I have a feeling I will be revisiting Peter Pan, Child Thief in the near future.
#3: Cyclone, Doreen Cronin
I really enjoyed this cute, middle-grade novel about a girl learning how to forgive herself. These characters are so lovable and real; it breaks your heart as your reading. I think this story belongs alongside Wonder and others like it–books that inspire young people by telling a pretty honest truth about the world. I think my favorite part about this book is how true Cronin stays to her characters; she doesn’t fill their heads with thoughts middle-schoolers couldn’t have. She uses a very normal young person voice to help them and her readers learn and grow on their own terms.
#4: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, Jenny Lawson
This book had me literally laughing out loud! I listened to the audiobook, and having Lawson read her stories to me made this book even more hilarious. While the stories she tells have a lot of humor in them, she’s also very authentic and real about her mental health and her struggles. She proves that talking about things like depression, insomnia, and anxiety don’t have to always be somber and serious. In fact, she does a great job of “normalizing” mental illness without downplaying its significance. I highly, highly recommend this book.
#5: The Girl with All the Gifts, M. R. Carey
I did not expect to enjoy this book at all, but I ended up really liking it! I’m not a fan of dystopian worlds, especially those that involve the undead, so I was taken by surprise when I started feeling for these “hungries”! This is another story with excellent characters who, though fairly blatant stereotypes, fit well into this plot. And the story itself moves at the perfect pace. It doesn’t race through, too focused on action, and it doesn’t drag either. A book totally outside my typical genre, this story grew my interest in science fiction and horror.
On the topic of the sequel, however… I didn’t like The Boy on the Bridge as much as The Girl with All the Gifts. I felt like the characters from the original story were pretty much replicated in new bodies for the second story. And I don’t think the conclusion justified an entire book to build up to it; it would have made a decent epilogue to the first story.
#6: The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
I feel like almost everyone who read this book in 2017 is going to put it on their “Best of” lists. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said, tweeted, written, and so on about this book. Thomas has captured a part of American culture that needs to be talked about more. And she does it through the eyes of a young person, still learning, and yet caught up in the middle of the struggle. If you haven’t yet read this book, make sure it’s on your 2018 TBR!
#7: Library Wars, Kiiro Yumi
This manga series was a lot of fun to read. I really liked the characters (can you tell I tend to prefer books that are character driven…? ha!) and the way they grew through the 15 volumes. I also liked the subject matter, which felt like a fresh look at Fahrenheit 451. The inclusion of librarians in the fight to end censorship and to protect privacy was just the icing on the cake!
#8: The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer
Yes, I did listen to this entire series over the course of only a couple months–including Fairest and Stars Above. I tend to avoid books that show up on popular reads lists, so I was very wary about starting Cinder. Now, I’m just happy I had the whole series published to blow through, because waiting for Winter to be released would have been torture! Another book (series) with great characters who feel very real. I also liked the way Meyer layered the stories, so you weren’t experiencing a horrendous info-dump in the first book. It shows a talent for good storytelling. While I cannot say I loved everything about this series, I can say this is one of the few teen fantasy/adventure series I’ve enjoyed beginning to end.
#9: Not a Drop to Drink & In a Handful of Dust, Mindy McGinnis
This little duology was dark, twisted, bare, and absolutely fabulous. McGinnis is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for her excellent female leads. Lynn and Lucy in these two books are so badass! I could go on and on about how great these books are, but rather than repeat myself, I’ll just refer you to my blog post where I discuss them in great detail.
#10: The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I picked up this children’s book not knowing much about it other than that it had won an award, so I was amazed by the emotional roller coaster inside. Ada is an amazing character, and her story is just beautiful. Being raised in the American education system (yuck), I only have minimal knowledge of what it was like in Europe during the World Wars. This book shed more light than I had gleaned from any textbook, and it was in such subtle ways, tucked around a tale of love and family and friendship. I hope to read Brubaker Bradley’s sequel this year.
I’m contemplating doing a Worst of 2017, but we will have to see how fast I recover… In the meantime, have fun reflecting on your own favorite books of the year! If you’ve read one of these, or have a recommendation from your 2017 reads, leave a comment below!