Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My 2017 Reading List

Kind of funny that I thought I'd read more being back in the U.S. and having access to the public library system. The opposite side of the coin is, life is much busier and goes at a faster pace here, so end result: fewer books read. Final tally for 2017: 43 (and several of those were novellas).

I'm rather appalled to look back and see I finished only one non-fiction the entire year. Reading was my escape from what was happening in real life and I turned to novels. Not a lot of standouts, sad to say. It's my own fault because I haven't taken the time to learn about what's new and good out there. I'd go to the library, check out a ton of books and end up returning most of them unopened because of lack of time and/or disinterest. Many days I didn't read at all, because by the end of the day I was too tired. I fell behind on following blogs, on reading books and articles and magazines... Has anyone else found that it takes a lot of emotional energy to engage in books? I don't remember that being an issue in the past, but it sure was this past year.

My one and only non-fiction was "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown. I love her books and her honesty; her words resonate deeply within, and I find myself physically nodding my head as I agree with much of what she writes. I haven't read her latest, "Braving the Wilderness" although I checked it out; again, that lack of emotional energy coming into play.

The other non-fiction I started is a book I haven't finished, one Ivan and I are reading together: "The Summer of the Great Grandmother" by Madeleine L'Engle. Just hit a little too close to home with mom's hospitalizations and then Sharon's death. Hopefully we'll be able to finish it in 2018. We plan to read all four books in L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals series (this is #2).

Now for the fiction... Maybe because of what was going on, the books that touched a chord were those that didn't necessarily end happily, but felt like they ended honestly. Like "The Atomic Weight of Love" by Elizabeth J. Church. Spanning the 1940s through 1970s, we follow Meridian Wallace from university in Chicago to Los Alamos. Her search to find meaning and purpose in the life she's chosen reads more like a true life memoir than a novel. The story bore no relation to anyone I knew, but it brought to mind scores of women like my mom from that time period.

"The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin was another heart rending story. One of the publicity blurbs said, "You don't want it to end" and that's exactly how I felt.  I sighed when I finished it, and would have petted the cover except it was a Kindle download from the library.

My last book of the year was another sad but satisfying book: "The Story of Arthur Truluv" by Elizabeth Berg. I loved how the author brought such disparate characters together to create a "family" of sorts; well, more like a mini community that supported one another. The book was not at all what I expected, and maybe that's the reason I liked it so much.  

Aimed at the young adult audience, "Amy & Roger's Epic Detour" by Morgan Matson made me laugh, cry and want to physically cheer the duo on in their grand adventure across the U.S. It also made the mother in me want to wring their scrawny necks!

My wackiest choice of the year was without a doubt "Sourdough" by Robin Sloan. This doesn't fit neatly into any genre. It's part romance, part sci fi, part magic realism...but always fun. And funny! This book made me snort laugh.

Rounding out my top picks for the year are two by favorite authors. I signed up on the waiting list for both months in advance, as soon as I knew their publications dates. Neither disappointed.

"Glass Houses" by Louise Penny is the latest Inspector Gamache novel set in Three Pines, Canada. Ever since reading "Still Life", the first in the series, I've been hooked! Would love to see these made into movies; the plots are unexpected, and the writing lyrical. Not your typical mysteries at all.

I'll end with what had to be one of, if not my absolute, favorite books of the year: "To Be Where You Are" by Jan Karon. The thing with Karon's books is that the characters have become like friends, to be welcomed back into our homes again and again, picking up where you left off like you do with good friends. More character than plot driven (although yes, there is always a plot), to read a Mitford book is like sitting down for a nice long chat over tea with a good friend, preferably on a porch with a light breeze blowing and the scent of lilacs in the air. Comfort reading at it's best!

Only eight books out of 43 made the reading list for last year. The rest of what I read was okay, but not good enough to pass along here. So how about it, friends, what have you been reading that you can recommend?


Betty W said...

43 books sounds great to me! I can't even finish one (ashamed...).

The Bug said...

I loved the AJ Fickry one too! And of course my Armande Gamache... I can’t believe I haven’t read the new Jan Karon! I’m going to put it on my list RIGHT NOW!

As for any that I’d recommend - maybe I’ll do one of these posts too so I can even remember. Ha!

rita said...

I certainly don't read like you do!
Have you ever read Terri Blacstock?
On my long drives to see Mother I listen to audio books Mike gets out of the church library. Shadow in Serenity, puts you into the head of a scam artist. If I run, my current listen, into someone running from the authorities even though innocent.
Always enjoy and learn from your posts.