Best Books Read in 2017

sheri_z6

I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by! Time for the annual listing of favorite books read over the past year.

My list was surprisingly short this year, mainly because we were in the throes of renovating a house (we finally moved in last week) and I only had enough energy and attention span for romance novels (of which almost none were memorable).

Here's my list:

  1. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brent. This is a coming of age story set in the 80's (nostalgia!) and involving an in-law with AIDS -- it was simply wonderful.

  2. Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Thank goodness for my book group, this choice was quirky, original, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a pretty good discussion, too. Elinor is not your average heroine.

  3. On Writing by Stephen King. This was brilliant, and as someone here said, it was better in some ways than his fiction. It provided a fascinating look at the way he practices his craft.

What were your favorite books read in 2017?

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martin_z

Well, three of the Booker short list - 4-3-2-1 by Paul Auster, Lincoln in the Bardo (the winner) by George Saunders and Autumn by Ali Smith. And Solar Bones (on the longlist) by Mike McCormack.

Nothing else springs to mind...but surely I read more than just the Booker long-list???

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carolyn_ky

I noted several I especially liked this year.

Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson; Letters to the Lost by Iona Gray; My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Bachman; Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova; At Risk by Stella Remington; and The Devouring by James R. Benn.

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woodnymph2_gw

I will list some that I enjoyed this past year, in no particular order:

"The House of Twenty Thousand Books" by S. Abramsky.

"The Confessions of Frances Godwin" by R. Hellenga.

"The Shadowland" by E. Kostova.

"A Writer's Britain" by Margaret Drabble.

"Hillbilly Elegy" (forgot author's name).

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kathy_t

My favorites read in 2017 were:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (the best by far). Thank you for the recommendation, Yoyobon_gw.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Thank you for the recommendation, Reader-in-transit.

The Third Hill North of Town by Noah Bly.

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reader_in_transit

In descending order:

Tell the Wolves I'm Home ---- Carol Rifka Brunt. As Sheri says above, simply wonderful. Kathy, I'm glad you liked it too.

The Garden of the Evening Mists ---- Tan Twan Eng. Thanks, Rosefolly, for the recommendation.

Ordinary Grace --- William Kent Krueger

Sound of Snow Falling (graphic novel with no text) --- Maggie Umber


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kathy_t

So Reader, would Sound of Snow Falling be at the top of your "best books not read in 2017" list?

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reader_in_transit

LOL, Kathy, with your comment!

Yes, it would.

In fact, I "read" it 3 times, and every time I discovered new details, colors, nuances.

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merryworld

This was a good reading year, though I read a lot more non-fiction than fiction. I enjoyed all the books I read, but a few stand out.

Favorite fiction in no particular order:

Birthday of the World - Ursula K. Le Guin

A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles

Last Days of Night - Graham Moore

Favorite non-fiction in no particular order:

A Hero of the Empire - Candice Millard

The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert

Lab Girl - Hope Jahren

Seven Brief Lesson on Physics - Carlo Rovelli

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

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donnamira

I read more books this year than usual, since I retired halfway through the year and have more time to read now! But one set really stands head-and-shoulders above them all: N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. The first 2 books won consecutive Hugo awards in 2016 (The Fifth Season) and 2017 (The Obelisk Gate), which one author has seldom achieved, and I won't be surprised if The Stone Sky, the 3rd book, wins 2018. Set in an Earth-like world that is missing its moon and tectonically unstable, with certain inhabitants who can transfer energy to quell or initiate geologic events, the story has themes of oppression, cultural prejudice, betrayal and revolution, as well as a mother-daughter conflict. It's told from various perspectives in not only first and third person voices, but also in second-person, which all comes together in the third book, and makes an impressive whole.

Another book I really enjoyed was Dick Francis' autobiography, The Sport of Queens, written back in the late 50's, shortly after he retired as a jockey and before he began writing his popular thrillers.

Others that were memorable: Jemisin's other series, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the Dreamblood Duology; Robert Charles Wilson's Axis and Vortex; and Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, and Kimberley Brubaker Bradley's The War I Finally Won.

Reader-in-transit: so it must have been your comments about Maggie Umber's book that led me to it! I bought it, and enjoyed it so much that I sent it to another bird-watching friend as a Christmas present.

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reader_in_transit

Donnamira,

I'm so glad to hear you also enjoyed Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber. Isn't it a wonderful book for bird-watchers or people interested in art, or both? (In my case, it is both). I gather you are a bird-watcher also?

Merryworld,

How fortunate to be able to say "I enjoyed all the books I read".

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donnamira

Reader, I am a case of both too. :) I have been interested in art since a child, and a backyard bird watcher since I became a homeowner. If you were on the Christmas bookmark list (sorry, too lazy to go check at the moment), my bird feeders are all on the level just above the patio in the garden photo side of the bookmark.

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Bestyears

Last February, I joined the Goodreads Challenge and set myself a goal of 100 books for the year. Earlier this month, I was nervous I wasn't going to make my goal, but then discovered that I had marked a bunch of books "completed", but hadn't entered the date -and so they weren't counted. All up to date now, and I'm at 103 with time to spare! I'm glad I did the challenge, because, for personal growth reasons, I'm trying to challenge myself more on an ongoing basis these days. However, having said that, I felt such pressure near the end of November and found myself focusing on completing whatever I was reading, rather than simply enjoying the process of reading. Having hit the 100 mark, I'm now back to enjoying whatever is in front of me.

Thank you for starting this thread -I've already added a few to my Goodreads list.

In no particular order, but some of the most enjoyable books I read in 2017:

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard.

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy]

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

Midstream by Reynolds Price

The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donja Bijan

Mother, Daughter, Me by Katie Hafner

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

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Rosefolly

Hmm, favorite books of 2017. Since I don't keep notes or lists, I'm never sure. However, I remember enjoying Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (SF), and the final volume in Robin Hobb's Assassin series, Assassin's Fate (fantasy). I also enjoyed Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, though I doubt I'll re-read that one so it is borderline for making this favorites list.

Donnamira, I have N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy on my bookshelf, and plan to read it soon.

For me it was not a great reading year. I did a lot of re-reading of previously read novels and wasted a lot of time playing solitaire on my iPad. I also read a fair number of throw-away, fast-food books. Most of the time I did not seem to have the concentration to really dig in and read, though occasionally I did.

I hope for a better reading year in 2018.

Rosefolly

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yoyobon_gw

hands down......A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

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msmeow

Wow, so many kudos for A Gentleman in Moscow! I'll have to try it again - I didn't get very far.

Donna

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merryworld

Wow, Bestyears, 100 books! I am too slow a reader to ever be able to read that many in a year, unless they were children's picture books. I often wish I could read faster so I could read more wonderful books. I recently heard an interview of Celeste Ng and Little Fires Everywhere is on my TBR now, a list which keeps growing and I cannot seem to pare down as it takes me too long to read a book and new books keep popping up on my radar.

It looks like I'm going to have to add Tell the Wolves I'm Home to the list, too.

Donna, yes give A Gentleman in Moscow another go. I thought it was wonderful and is one of my favorites, but it's OK if it isn't your shot of vodka.

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msmeow

Merryworld, your slower pace probably allows you to absorb more detail and enjoy the process! I am a quilter and keep telling myself it's not a race, and to slow down and enjoy the process. :)

Donna

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Rosefolly

There are things I do slowly, too. I sew and knit and am very slow at both, especially at knitting which is still a fairly new skill for me. But I do careful work and strive to do them well. There is nothing wrong with moving at the pace that suits you best.

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sheri_z6

So many good recommendations here! I'll add one final book to my "best" list for the year, Anne Fadiman's The Wine Lover's Daughter: A Memoir, which I received for Christmas and flew through in just a couple of days. Her Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader is one of my all-time favorite books and I really enjoy her writing. This one is a memoir of her life with her father, Clifton Fadiman, literary critic, editor, radio show host, all-around intellect, and wine enthusiast.

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carolyn_ky

msmeow, my mother enjoyed quilting and made many beautiful quilts after she retired. My brother-in-law told her once it was a good thing she wasn't doing it for a living and charging by the hour.

I am the proud owner of half a dozen of them, one a cross stitch done in shades of green that I use as a bedspread in a guest room that houses some of her things she began housekeeping with; e.g., a travel trunk, a kerosene lamp and a flat iron. The good old days, huh?

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kathy_t

As I suspected, I do need to add Commonwealth by Ann Patchett to my list of favorites (just finished it today). It should be third on my list, just below Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

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vee_new

Not a memorable reading year for me. I just make a note of the title and author of the books I have read and on checking my list I find several I cannot remember anything about though this may say more about my memory rather than the content/title/author. So the rather feeble 'best' are

Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones. Set on a South Seas island where Great Expectations is the only book available to the school children,

The Grande Duchess of Nowhere by Laurie Graham which follows the life of a minor-royal at the Russian Court up to the time of the Revolution.

Emma Darwin by Edna Healey. The life of the wife of Charles D.

Surprisingly, although the content of many books fades fast I can usually remember where I was when I read them!


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kathy_t

I also can easily completely forget books I've read. In fact, if I remember correctly (ha!), that's one of the reasons I started keeping a journal. I often only write a sentence or two (or four) about each book, but it's usually enough to jog my memory. Do you think this means the act of reading is more dear to us than the books?

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vee_new

Kathy, I'm glad I'm not the only one! For me, I don't think 'the act of reading' is more important than what I'm reading. I really feel I'd rather not be reading if it's a really trashy novel. I no longer bother to plough on as I might have done years ago.

What do other RP'ers think?

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annpanagain

I sometimes need the act of reading, to while away a few minutes waiting for a TV show or to get to sleep. I usually pick up a book I have read before and let it fall open to any page.

Not a good idea with a bus to catch as I have sometimes got engrossed and looked up to find the time has gone and so has the bus I meant to go for!

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Rosefolly

I have never missed a bus due to reading, but I have missed getting off a bus at the right stop for that reason. That can be unfortunate if I end up in a dubious neighborhood. Fortunately I rarely ride buses anymore.

For me the act of reading is in itself important, but much less so than what I am actually reading. Like Vee, I don't bother to finish a book that fails to hold my interest. I probably abandon a quarter or so of the books I pick up. There are thousands of books out there, and more published every year. If I live another 40 years and read 100 books a year that means that there are only 4000 books left for me. Sobering thought, that. I'm not going to waste time on books I don't enjoy. It does not all need to be great literature (and it won't be) but it does all need to be a rewarding.

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carolyn_ky

Sobering thought, indeed. Forty years from now, I will be 121. Note to self: Read more books. (We used to have a bookstore called Readmore. They carried mostly paperbacks, and most of them cost $.39.) I miss the cent key and the cheap paperbacks.

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Rosefolly

Carolyn, 40 years from now I will be 105. I hope I do live that long - that is, provided I am still reading - but I was speaking extravagantly to make a point. There are far too many books worth my reading to waste my time of books that don't bring me pleasure.

And that is true for you, too!

Paula

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Rosefolly

Carolyn, if you come across this post on this old thread (as I just did), on a Mac you can make the cent sign ¢ with Option-$. The Option key on the Mac is the same as the Alt key on a Microsoft computer, so I imagine it might do the same thing. It is certainly worth a try.

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carolyn_ky

Rosefolly, thank you very much, but it doesn't work for me with my H-P laptop and Microsoft Word. I don't get anything.

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