The 15 Best Books I Read in 2017

I tried for a top 10 list, but couldn’t narrow it down that far.

I finished 132 books, abandoned 5, and am still working on 1. (I had to return it to the library midway through and haven’t gotten it back yet.

26 of them were re-reads, which means I read 106 new books, which is record number of new books for me. I read 43,326 pages last year, which is 5,134 pages more than the year before. 9 of the books I read at least partly as audiobooks.

I don’t have high-brow tastes, but I do like an entertaining tale with good writing. Of the 100+ books I read in 2017, I liked 15 of them enough to recommend to others. Honestly, that’s not bad odds.

  1. The Sun is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon (YA literary) At this point, I’m convinced anything Nicola Yoon writes will be amazing. This is a book about a young lady who’s family is from Jamaica. They’re about to be deported, and she’s trying to figure out a way for them to stay in the country. She meets a young Korean man, and they end up spending the day together. The book is from the point of view of the two main characters, but also from other characters, whose lives these two touch for a moment here and there. This is a book about love and culture and identity, but also about how sometimes we don’t realize how much of an impact we can have on a person by just a momentary encounter.
  2. The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stievfater (YA fantasy light) This is a series of 4 books. I’ll be totally honest; the first one took me awhile to warm up to it. I was listening to it on audiobook, and I thought the language was odd. I was actually going to stop listening to it, but I was driving through the middle of nowhere, still had miles to go, and couldn’t get reception to download a different book. I figured it was better than nothing and kept going. I’m so glad I did! It merges myth and legend against a modern day setting. I fell in love with the characters, their romances, and their adventures. I will warn you that I did not love the ending. A bad ending can ruin a book for me, and this one wasn’t bad… it was just somewhat disappointing. It’s still worth reading, but be careful if endings are a thing for you too.
  3. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (YA real world) Rowell is another YA author who, in my mind, writes consistently good books. Bonus recommendation: Carry On. This book is about a nerdy girl who writes fan fiction and struggles with anxiety. When she gets to college, she has to stop using her safety nets (getting lost in fan fiction, her sister) and start participating in real life.
  4. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (YA horror) This is a book of short YA horror stories. I have my favorites, like In The Forest, Dark and Deep, Sleepless, and The Dark Scary Parts and All, but every single story in the collection was good. They mixed big names, like Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake with less famous authors.
  5. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (memoir) Not going to lie, I cried, even though I knew full well that the author died before I even picked up the book. It was a beautiful meditation on an interesting man, and what it means to be human.
  6. A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown (memoir) This is a difficult read. Not because of the language, which was simple and direct, but because the subject matter is so tough. Cupcake (her real name) ends up in foster care after her mom dies, which is where she’s raped by the foster mom’s son. No one seems to care, and she spirals into self-loathing and drugs. Only because of an inner core of steel does she manage to get herself clean and become a successful lady. I already knew that everyone’s got a story, but this just reinforced the idea that you can never know what someone’s gone through unless you’ve lived it or they tell you.
  7. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (literary) I couldn’t put this book down. It was sad and funny, about a group of people who are trapped together when terrorists take them hostage. But after awhile, the line between captor and captured blurs, and they all start to find out that they’re just a group of people trying to figure things out in the world. I can’t really describe it, but if you like literary fiction, you should read it.
  8. The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis (YA horror) Alex’s sister was killed by a predator. When the police don’t charge him, Alex kills him. Three years later, she’s used to being an outcast and keeping her secrets. But when she develops a friendship, and then starts dating a popular boy, she realizes that she can’t keep her secrets (or her rage) to herself anymore.
  9. The Emperor of Anyplace, by Tim Wynne-Jones (YA literary with fantastical elements) This book was chosen by YA book club, and it’s so many different things. I didn’t expect to like it, but loved it. It’s part family drama in modern day, part mystery set during World War II. Two men from opposite sides get trapped together on a small island during the war and must deal with being trapped with the “enemy.” When Evan finds the book detailing what happened after his father dies, he tries to solve the mystery of who his grandfather really is.
  10. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert (self-help) Are you a creative person who feels stuck, or feels like you need permission to create? Then read this book. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about why the world needs more people who are passionate about art, all kinds of art. (Notice I didn’t say, “who are good at art.”)
  11. When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon (YA romance) Dimple and Rishi’s parents have arranged for them to get married, when they’re older. But Dimple wants to be her own person, to learn more about web development, and not even think about romance. Their parents throw them together at a web development workshop and expect everything to work out. This is just a sweet but fresh romance. It’s light reading, but good light reading.
  12. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (YA literary) This is what I’d call an “issue book.” That is, it’s meant to present an issue to the reader. Some of them get so heavy into their message that they forget to also provide an entertaining ride. This book, however, delivers. It’s clear what Angie Thomas wants to say, but she doesn’t overshadow the author’s protagonist, Starr, when she does it. Starr speaks for herself and tells us what it’s like to navigate between two different worlds, especially when someone you love was killed for reasons you don’t understand.
  13. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (historical fiction) The first 100 pages are sloooooow. They’re all set-up, but it’s important set-up. Once I got past those pages, the rest of the story flew by. I’ve read the first two so far and have loved them both. These books have a bit of everything: history, war, romance. It’s a non-stop thrill ride.
  14. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold (memoir) I truly believe this is an important book. When tragedies happen by human hands, we all seem to point fingers and say, “Someone should have known.” The problem is that most of the time, people didn’t know. Sure, they might have known something was off, but let’s be honest, who ever thinks that someone they love is capable of brutal violence? Sue Klebold confronts those statements and more in her book about her son, Dylan, one of the shooters at Columbine High School. Sometimes it seems like she’s talking to herself, still trying to understand what could have happened. She blends her own recollections with information from experts. It’s haunting, but hopefully eye-opening as well.
  15. On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony (fantasy) When Zane shoots Death, he finds out that he has to take over the job. As he’s collecting souls, he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy. A fun, fast-paced book.

There you have it. If you read something on my recommendation, stop back and let me know what you thought.

What was the best book/ books you read in 2017?

4 comments on “The 15 Best Books I Read in 2017

  1. Your opening reminds me of a list I came up with about twenty-five years ago, that of “My Top Five Favorite Comic Artists”. There were about twelve of them, as I recall…

  2. Ramona Mead says:

    I’ve tried to write a post similar to this and couldn’t narrow it down to a number. I read so many amazing books last year! I finished 126 books last year and DNF-ed about a dozen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s