A 2017 Book Review: 12 new books in 12 months

I’ve always considered myself a voracious reader. Growing up, my mom would sometimes have to take books away from me, because I would stay up until the middle of the night reading and then have trouble sleeping because I was afraid of the dark. I often read books during class (which was, apparently, a problem). It’s not quite as extreme as I’m making it sound – just a short period of my childhood that I remember vividly as full of fairy tales and adventure. When I own my own home, I want to have an entire room filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, for my own personal Beauty and the Beast library. I’ll organize books by topic, or by age-appropriateness, or by another method which I haven’t thought of yet.

Despite this book-hungry childhood, it’s been years since I’ve properly been able to claim that I maintain what I consider to be an above-average reading volume. At the beginning of the year, while getting brunch with some friends, we talked about how difficult it was to find time to read anymore. One of my girlfriends admitted that a 2017 resolution for her was to read a new book each month. That’s all it took for me to join her! Each month, I decided that I would read at least one new book. Below are my favorite reads this year. I’m not terribly picky when it comes to genre (although I do have preferences), so hopefully, you’ll find some appealing suggestions! You can click on any book title in the header to see the Amazon listing.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclaimer here.

January: A Man Called Ove

Best books of 2017

This book had me laughing and sobbing in the span of an hour. It was read on a cold Saturday in one sitting; Ian was hosting a game night in the living room so I had to stifle my sobs, but this book is now one of my favorites. It was slow to rise on the bestseller list and has topped book sales in Sweden. It’s a lovely book about family and old age; I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much more. READ IT.

February: The Butterfly Garden

Best books of 2017

I picked up this book on sale off Amazon and paid for it with a gift card (usually, I’ll only buy books after I’ve read it a few times and know that I want to own it). While it was interesting, and the best book of February, it’s probably my least favorite read this year. If you like young adult fiction and creepy premises are your thing, give it a shot.

March: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Best books of 2017

This is a good-looking book. It’s great for shelf-sitting, but I wholly recommend it for reading, too. Can I say that I give fewer f*cks after reading this book? Maybe. It’s not so much about not giving a f*ck than it is about giving the right f*cks. I felt badass reading this book and will reread it again to maintain that badass feeling.

Also want to give a shoutout to #GirlBoss, which was another March read that is an edgier, wittier version of Lean In, my career bible. Both make fantastic gifts for young professional women.

April: The Vegetarian

Best books of 2017

I joined a book club at work! We exclusively discuss books written by women, which I think is cool. If not for book club, I would not have chosen this book. The story is extremely dark, and not something I typically feel comfortable reading (see Feb’s book read). However, as a book to discuss, it was incredibly interesting. As a translated book from South Korea, there were many nuances in the writing that added an additional layer of mystery to the story. My takeaway? Yes, you should check it out. It’s a quick read and has garnered some critical acclaim.

My favorite read in April was definitely Ready Player One, but it doesn’t count towards this goal since I technically read it first last year. Still, it’s an excellent read, and I highly recommend it to all. It’s got technology, 80s references galore, and kids fighting a big corporation (woooo common themes! Lol). Hopefully, this doesn’t rub people the wrong way, but I could see it becoming the new Ender’s Game for kids growing up today. (Also one of my favorite books of all time).

May: The Girl on the Train

Best books of 2017

The movie adaptation of this book came out in the fall of 2016, but I always prefer reading the book before I watch the movie, so I held off watching it.

I devoured this book in one sitting. I do like a good mystery, and this one delivered. Even though the ending wasn’t a huge surprise to me, I had to keep going because the story is so well written; I just had to know why. I read Gone Girl immediately after The Girl on the Train, and I must say, if you like one, you’ll probably like the other. Different stories and a different twist ending, but definitely in the same genre.

June: Fake Plastic Love

Best books of 2017

Fake Plastic Love is a debut novel from Kimberly Tait, and the book fell into my lap via Books on the Subway, an awesome book sharing idea that I fully support. Essentially, this book unpacks friendship in NYC, with a writing style reminiscent of The Great Gatsby. It started slow, but I liked the story because I found it extremely relevant; there were many parallels I could draw between the narrator and myself.

July: The Bell Jar

Best books of 2017

I’m quite surprised I’ve gone this long without reading this book. It seems like it should’ve been assigned reading in high school. What I liked: in the version I’ve linked in the header, the forward comes with a brief overview of Slyvia Plath’s life, and the journey of publishing her book in America. Knowing the context around the book made me appreciate the story so much more. For a book written in the 60s, it’s astounding how modern and relevant everything feels.

I’ve also been reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Honestly, it’s a little intense. I don’t know if I’ll get through all the books, but I keep pushing on because Ian is such a fan. To his credit, each book is better than the last, and the story that King weaves is impressive. If you like fictional epic sagas with lots of modern references, then this is the series for you.

August: The Name of the Wind

Best books of 2017

I am a complete sucker for good, epic, fiction. This book is so good that I couldn’t even put it down at work until I finished. (That sounds bad, but I promise it only cost me a partial day of productivity😅.) I like my books like I like my TV shows… ALL AT ONCE. Reading this made me realize that I cannot read during the week if I have to do real person things, like go to work. The sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, was consumed just as quickly.

September: In a Dark, Dark Wood

Best books of 2017

2017 became a year of murder mysteries for me. I will admit, back in the day I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew (when I ran out of Nancy Drew books I’d snag some Hardy Boys). In a Dark, Dark Wood is a quick read with a good build up. Like The Girl on the Train, I could guess who by the end, but I kept reading to understand why.

October: The Husbands’ Secret

Best books of 2017

I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually read a new book in October. 😱 Between work, blogging, and my two-week vacation to China, things were busy! Instead, I’m highlighting a book that I read back in September but didn’t make the ‘top book’ cut that month.

The Husband’s Secret was interesting. Recommended by the same friend who lent me In a Dark, Dark, Wood, I found this novel to be less predictable. This was one of the few books that took me a long time to read. Why? I’ll admit, After reading a good 40% of it, I found myself bored. Were it not for this goal, I wouldn’t have finished it. I’m glad I did though! There are two main sections of this novel. The buildup, and the ohmygoshwhat’shappeninghere. Get through the long buildup, and it will be worth it.

November: The Paper Magician

Ever get so overwhelmed by the real world that you just need to escape into a fake one? That’s what this book became for me. Like The Butterfly Garden, this was a sale purchase from Amazon because the cover intrigued me. In fact, I bought the whole series! Well, except for the most recent (4th) book, which just came out this year. I read the whole series in a single day; they’re very quick reads.

I’m a softie at heart. I love fiction, and I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I still enjoy a good YA novel. The Paper Magician series is light-hearted – the classic smart heroine winning with the odds stacked against her (yeah!). I don’t even care that it’s a little cliché. My heart wants what it wants, haha.

December: Swamplandia!

best books of 2017I finished the year off strong with this book. Like quite a few of the books on this list, this is one I would never have picked out for myself. Instead, this was a book club book, like The Bell Jar and The Vegetarian. This book was read, in one sitting, on a snowy afternoon (the first of the season!). Many parts of this novel were frustrating to me. The main characters felt extremely out of touch with the rest of the world, and the naivety of the youngest character was painful to read. Despite that, I enjoyed this novel. There were quite a few things that resonated with me – the awkwardness of the family sitting outside of societal norms mirrors how I sometimes feel when I bring too much of my personal finance passion into the “real world”.

My favorite “new” book of 2017

If I had to choose one, it’d be A Man Called Ove, which was January’s read. It’s the book I’m most likely to read multiple times, and one that I would be happy to gift to others.

I read more books this year than I have in a long time, and this pleases me greatly. Some of these books were published quite some time ago, but they’re all new to me (usually, I’ll read the same books over and over again, but hey, I know what I like). While making final edits to this post, I realized that I’m actually quite terrible at book reviews. I’ve told you all nothing about these books except for the fact that I liked them, and you should read them, too. Perhaps in the future I’ll be more thorough on what exactly I liked about these novels. For now, this is proof that I accomplished a 2017 goal!

Give me your book recommendations! I’m not giving myself a similar resolution for 2018, but I always want to keep reading. 😁

Comments

  1. I love this idea! I really enjoyed “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles this year. Well written, intriguing and beautiful novel 🙂 I also really enjoyed “Lilac Girls”

    1. Author

      Two recommendations, thanks! Lilac Girls looks awesome, I’m definitely tackling that one soon. I think I may make my 2018 goal to read through all the recommendations I end up getting in comments for this post.

  2. I was also a voracious reader as a child and still day dream about that Beauty and the Beast library! A stand-out for me this year was “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. It sat on my shelf forever and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it.

    1. Author

      You know, I can’t believe I haven’t read any Steinbeck novels yet. Adding East of Eden to my list! Thanks for the recc 🙂

  3. I loved Ready Player One! The author has another book Armada, which is not quite as good, but a quick read.

    I just finished Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. It’s a reflection on the American Dream from the perspective of an immigrant couple living/working/studying in NYC during the financial crisis. Great story and the first novel from a Mbue (who yes, is a lady).

    1. Author

      Oh wow Behold the Dreamers sounds intriguing; adding it to my list for 2018!
      I don’t feel like much can stand up to Ready Player One but I’ll likely pick up Armada at some point. Thanks for the recommendations!

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