Friday, December 29, 2017

Best Books of 2017

I love this annual post. It's so fun to look back and reflect on the best books I read over the course of the year. You can find the 2012201320142015, and 2016 versions in the archives (or by following the links). I know some of you have been reading since the very beginning and I hope you enjoy this yearly tradition as much as I do.

If you're interested in this kind of post, I would also encourage you to go back and read the post I did for a Top Ten Tuesday mid-way through the year. I listed my ten favorite books of the year thus far and I used Meryl Streep gifs to represent them all. It's awesome. I also did a great post in August when I finished the 100 Best Novels challenge about my favorite books from that.

A note of procedure, I only ever select new reads for this post. I love rereading books and I have done more of it in the past couple years, but so often I reread books because I love them. It doesn't feel fair to include them in these "awards" because they've already made enough of an impression on me to be reread.
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Most Thought Provoking: Strangers in Their Own Land ~ I read a lot of book this year trying to wrap my head around the political climate in our country. This was far and away the most helpful of them all.

Most Unique: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven ~ Holy cow, this memoir is insane. It did not turn out to be what I expected at all, but it was a wild ride!

Longest: London ~ Rutherfurd's epic clocks in at 1,154 pages. Rutherfurd also took home this honor in 2015 with his book Russka. It's 100 pages shorter than this one.

Shortest: We Should All Be Feminists ~ 49 pages and every one of them was chock full of amazing writing. Everyone should read this. Seriously. It'll take you no time and may drastically change the way you view the struggle for gender equality around the world.

Most Recommended: Bread and Wine ~ Considering I bought copies of this for a couple friends and now it's gotten passed around my whole friend group, I think Shauna Niequist's memoir about food, faith, and family qualifies for this title.

Most Thrilling: The Passenger / The Kind Worth Killing ~ I finished the year with an oddly high number of thrillers since I was hunting for a perfect Halloween read. These two, though, were head and shoulders above the rest. They kept me guessing right to the end.

Most Educational: Just Mercy ~ This is an intensely difficult category to pick from this year because I did so much education reading. However, Bryan Stevenson's powerful look at the justice system and how we handle the death penalty in our country was both sobering and inspiring. 

Tastiest: Under the Tuscan Sun ~ This is more travel-centric than food-centric, but it made me desperately want to pull up a chair to a Tuscan table...which I'll be doing this summer!

Favorite Classic: Wide Sargasso Sea ~ This is a more modern book, but it was on the 100 Best Novels list, so I'm counting it as a classic. I was caught off guard by how much I enjoyed this one. Definitely one of my favorites from the list.

Biggest Throwback: The Gammage Cup ~ I looked for this book for years after loving it as a child. I found it just as charming all these years later.

Most Inspiring: The Defining Decade ~ Reading this book in January really solidified my intentions for the year and helped me think critically about what I want my life to look like going forward and how to start working toward my goals now.

Honorable Mentions: The Hopefuls / The Underground Railroad / Big Little Lies / Never Let Me Go ~ These books don't fall into a specific "award" category, but they were favorites this year for a variety of reasons. Go check them out. They are worth your time. 
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Each month, I select a favorite book of the month. Below are the ones which captured the honor each month of 2017. There are definitely some duplicates from books above, but I like to list them all together as well. I think it provides an interesting look into the types of books that were really capturing my heart and imagination throughout the year. I encourage you to go back and read the posts and see why they each made such an impact on me.

Last year, I felt as though a retrospective theme for the year was "thought-provoking." I think that's right and I think this year has been the natural progression of that. 2016 got me thinking about a lot of things in new ways. This year, I really was intentional about trying to grow my knowledge on issues and experiences unfamiliar to me. It didn't always make for the most exciting reading, but I learned a lot this year. I wanted to continue growing in this type of reading and I definitely did this year. This was my most "substantive" reading diet ever and while I would have loved to fit in a few more pure entertainment reads, I want to grow as a person and citizen more.

I hope to continue this same trend in 2018. Now that I'm done with the 100 Best Novels challenge, I do want to get some more fun reading back into my regime. Balance will be key. Last year, I ended this post with a line that I'd like to repeat this year: Here's to the journey, to the lessons to come, and to the books which will carry them.

What were your favorite books in 2017?

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