I am still coming to terms with the fact that another year is coming to an end. Looking back now, I would say that it wasn’t the best reading year, mostly due to the number of reading slumps that I experienced along the way. There were weeks where I couldn’t read anything to save my life and the thought of picking up a book made me even less excited to read it. All the same, I will still consider 2017 a memorable one because this year I was willing to broaden my horizons and explore new genres, specifically literary-fiction, non-fiction books and classics, and all of them have become my go-to choices when buying new books.
This year I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 80 books and for the first time ever I did not finish it. But I will in no way allow this to drag me down. After all I read for my own enjoyment…and anyway, quality over quantity right? I ended up reading a total of 66 books, which according to Goodreads translates to 21,486 pages and I’m quite happy with that number.
My shortest read was The Yellow Wall-paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (55 pages) while the longest book was The Diviners by Libba Bray (800 pages). My first read of 2017 was Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, a heartbreaking story that opened my eyes to the horrors of WWII. I enjoyed her writing so much and I’m really looking forward to read Salt to the Sea next year. I ended the year with Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield, a collection of short stories that are simple yet profound.
Top 10 Favourite Books of 2017:
These are my top 10 favourite books of this year and I recommend all of them!
The Diviners– Libba Bray
The Sun and her Flowers– Rupi Kaur
The Secret History– Donna Tartt
The Language of Thorns– Leigh Bardugo
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind– Yuval Noah Harari
The Muse– Jessie Burton
Homegoing– Yaa Gyasi
Crooked Kingdom– Leigh Bardugo
Gemina– Amie Kaufman
Purple Hibiscus– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It’s next to impossible for me to choose a single book out of this list as my ultimate top favourite, but if I was forced to make a decision I would probably say Crooked Kingdom because my love for Kaz Brekker, Inej and the rest of the characters in the Grisha universe knows no bounds. I remember that fateful evening when I finished this book, my face was all red and blotchy and I was trying to hide my tears from the rest of the family. Honestly I am still caught between wanting to hug the book to my chest and throwing it across the room for destroying any semblance of self-control I’ve ever possessed. But it was all worth it!
I love rereading books and revisiting my favourite characters, and this year was no exception. I reread a total of 19 books which seems quite a lot but Saga and Harry Potter make up most of that number.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower– Stephen Chbosky
Saga Vol 1-6– Brian K. Vaughan
Since you’ve been gone– Morgan Matson
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour– Morgan Matson
The princess saves herself in this one– Amanda Lovelace
Harry Potter series– JK Rowling
The Graveyard Book– Neil Gaiman
The Night Circus– Erin Morgenstern
New favourite authors I discovered this year:
Donna Tartt– The Secret History was my first Donna Tartt book and it became an instant favourite. It is one of those books where you end up not knowing what to do with yourself after finishing it. Donna Tartt is a wordsmith goddess who is able to write the most pretentious and flawed characters in existence but still makes you love them dearly. I am really looking forward to read The Goldfinch next year!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– After finishing Purple Hibiscus, I knew I had to buy the rest of her books. Her perfectly detailed descriptions paint a wonderful picture of Nigeria and I loved reading about it so much. Also this book confirmed my innate love for character-driven stories and I hope the rest of her books are just as wonderful!
Anthony Doerr– I picked up The Shell Collector on a whim but I am so happy that I did. It is a collection of short stories that focus on nature and the human condition in all it’s forms. His writing will compel you to go outside and revel in the beauty of nature. He explores the experiences of different people, their suffering, grief, loneliness, hope…and unites them with the surrounding nature, giving each story a unique touch while at the same time combining them all together through the beauty of the universe. I am sure that All The Light We Cannot See will be just as beautiful.
Ali Smith– After reading Autumn I can confirm that Ali Smith is a genius when it comes to storytelling across a timeline. I was struck by her unique tone that changes according to the need of the story, from poetic, to conversational to downright crude and I think this is what makes her books so remarkable.
All of these books mentioned were released in 2017 and this fact makes me even more disappointed because I’ve been anticipating their release for so long. I guess I need to learn not to allow the hype to get to my head…and my bank account.
> Caraval by Stephanie Garber– I was so excited to read this book purely because it was constantly being compared with The Night Circus, which is my all-time favourite book. Fun fact: it has nothing to do with The Night Circus. Nada. I wasn’t a fan of Garber’s writing style at all. I felt like she was trying too hard to be poetic and atmospheric but ended up being too superficial and juvenile. I also didn’t like the romantic relationship in this book mostly because it felt quite rushed, forced and unnecessary and there are certain scenes that the book could definitely have gone without. I also hated the way Garber used suicide and abuse as plot devices and I would definitely not recommend this for those who are triggered by these topics.
> An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson– Review Link
> The Inexplicable Logic of my life by Benjamin Alire Saenz– Review Link
> Origin by Dan Brown– Dan Brown’s books always tackle various interesting topics so I was really looking forward to read it, even though I’ve never been a huge fan of his writing style. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions that this book raises and it made me want to read more about the subject. However I think this book fell flat when it came to the writing and the characters. The characters lack any sort of depth and ironically the only character I found truly interesting was an Artificial Intelligence. The writing felt childish at times and long paragraphs describing the history and general information about the subject slowed down the story way too much. I think this book would have been much more interesting if it was written as non-fiction.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”
-The Secret History, Donna Tartt
“This goes to show you that sometimes the unseen is not to be feared and that those meant to love us most are not always ones who do.”
-The Language of Thorns, Leigh Bardugo
“There is no greater power on this earth than story.” Will paced the length of the room. “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense—words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions—words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.” Will grabbed the sheaf of newspaper clippings he kept in a stack on his desk. “This, and these”—he gestured to the library’s teeming shelves—“they’re a testament to the country’s rich supernatural history.”
-The Diviners, Libba Bray
You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”
-When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
“You want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”
-Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
Looking back at all these wonderful books that I’ve read makes me even more excited for next year and all the books that will bring with it. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful year and made some wonderful memories and I hope 2018 will be a good one! To quote Neil Gaiman:
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
> Goodreads: My year in books