Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2017

Another year of reading in the books! (Get it? In THE BOOKS?) As always, I was humbled and dazzled by the books I managed to read this year - there were so many good ones, most of them heartbreaking in one way or another. (I'm a sucker for tragedies.) I'm also beginning to see patterns in my reading, and how the writers with whom I choose to spend my time reflects what I'm doing or thinking or struggling with at any given moment.

This year, I read my most diverse range of authors yet, which was wonderful and necessary - especially during a year so rife with political tragedies and systemic inequalities. Many of the books helped me see the world in a new light, or expanded my view of an issue, or showed me something about myself I'd previously ignored. While other areas of my life felt stagnant (another post for another time) I grew more as a reader this year than in any other. For that I am grateful, and I have the following books to thank.

The Best Books I Read in 2017

Total books read in 2017: 29

Gender breakdown: 
Female: 19
Male: 8
Anthologies: 2

Diversity breakdown:
White: 15
POC: 13
Anthologies: 1

Genre breakdown:
Novels: 16
Memoir/CNF: 10
Short story collections: 3

Month I read the most books: 
August and November (4 each)

Month I read the least books:
October (1)

Most fun I had while reading:
All the Lives I Want, Alana Massey. (A collection of essays about famous people the author has never actually met. Not the best book, but definitely fun in a surreal and sometimes sad way.)

Most overrated book/disappointing ending:
I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Ian Reid. (A book club pick that everyone hated. We chose it based on its great reviews, and it did NOT live up.)

Best family drama: 
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng. (She's basically the queen of family dramas, and consequently the writer I most aspire to be like.)

Prettiest prose: 
Imagine Me Gone, Adam Hazlett. (Gorgeous writing, but every page was a fresh wave of grief. Proceed with caution.)

Best book club pick: 
White Tears, Hari Kunzru. (Some people in book club hated this novel, others loved it. No one was in the middle. For the record, I loved it.)

Best book by a friend: 
Felt in the Jaw, Kristen Arnett. (Stories about lesbians in Florida, and that's all you need to know.)

Most engrossing book: 
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo. (A doomed marriage. Tragic offspring. Magic misconstrued. And it all takes place in Nigeria, which is one of my favorite settings. Couldn't put it down.)

Most epic book: 
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee. (This book covers about 80 years and five generations, and Lee manages this task beautifully.)

Most disturbing book: 
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado. (There are images from this book I will never forget, and that's good. I don't want to forget them. "The Husband Stitch," especially, is a masterpiece.)

Best book of 2017: 
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng. (We're all shocked, I know.)

The full list of books I read in 2017, in order: 

The Wangs Vs. the Wold, Jade Chang
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli
A Thin Bright Line, Lucy Bledsoe
Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
The Red Parts, Maggie Nelson
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
White Tears, Hari Kunzru
The Small Backs of Children, Lidia Yukanvitch
Hourglass, Dani Shaprio
The Idiot, Elif Batuman
Scratch: Collected Essays, Manjula Martin
The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg
Imagine Me Gone, Adam Hazlett
Hunger, Roxane Gay
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jennifer Wait
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
All the Lives I Want, Alana Massey
Felt in the Jaw, Kristen Arnett
I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Ian Reid
The Fire This Time, Jessamyn Ward
American War, Omar El Akkad
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jessamyn Ward
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo
The Futilitarians, Anne Gisleson
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

See also: 
The Best Books I Read in 2016