Book Reviews, Commentary

Favorite Books of 2017

Well, 2017. You were full of allllll kinds of surprises. At the very beginning of the year, I made a promise to myself that I would write a book and read A LOT.  I did both. More on the book I wrote later, but I have read fifty books to date, and it’s still the beginning of December. Here are some of my favorites:

Fiction that blew me away:

It’s hard to love My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent. It’s quite possibly the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. But the prose was undeniably amazing.

The first chapter of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, reads like Bridget Jones’ Diary. And then it quickly, beautifully transforms into an absolutely heartbreaking book about love, friendship, and overcoming abuse. This book truly touched me, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I simply don’t have the words to express how phenomenal Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi, is. Like the previous two, the subject matter in this is hard to love. But the stunning way in which the stories in this book are told is just breathtaking. (Hyperbole, much? I can’t help it. This book was that good.)

I wanted to not like A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. I tend to be that way whenever a book gets a lot of buzz. But this book was tender and beautiful and had me crying multiple times on a plane ride. I loved it.

Non-Fiction that Got me Thinking:

I, along with (more than) half the country am really struggling with the current state of things. Someone recommended Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance, to me in January, before it got all the buzz it got throughout the year. I thought it was carefully crafted, very relatable, and shed some light on some serious darkness.

You guys, We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is absolutely required reading for every single human American. And that is all there is to it.

I had the pleasure of working with Bill Lunn on his book, Heart of a Ranger, as well as getting to know Ben Kopp’s mother through the book launch process. As my husband can attest– this book had me staying up way past my bedtime, sobbing tears of sadness and joy. It’s truly a beautiful tribute and a great glimpse into the life (and death) of an American soldier.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, but when I do I always stress that the book must be listened to on audio. His reading in his (dreamy) South African accent is wonderful, and the way he tells his story is flawless.

I debated putting this book here, for obvious reasons. Despite all that has happened with Al Franken in the last 48 hours, I have to say that his book, Giant of the Senate, (again, on audio), was an absolute pleasure to read this year. He broke my heart, don’t get me wrong. But his book was great. Did I mention he also broke my heart?

 

I want to gift Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay, to every woman I know. But they have to be over the age of 35 OR they have to have much of their girlhood defined by Sweet Valley High, 90210, and ubiquity of reality television. Funny, witty, and thought-provoking.

There were others. I really enjoyed What Happened, by Hillary Clinton, however I think she is such a polarizing figure that if you have any sort of feelings about her, good or bad, this book will only make those feelings stronger. I thought Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon, was enjoyable YA, and of course I loved The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Reza Azlan’s God, A Human History, was fantastic (though not as good as Zealot), and Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo was surprisingly thoughtful and definitely hilarious.

So, my fellow book nerds, what were your favorite books of 2017?

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