I’m in the middle of my 46th book of 2017 as I write this. It was hard to narrow down my top seven pics for the year,maybe harder even than choosing an ice cream flavor at Sweet Cow, but I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge (with a few exceptions including but not limited to fixing our unruly towel bar and almost anything to do with computers). If you want my thoughts on everything I’ve read, including the books I didn’t love, connect with me on Goodreads. I also post my books on Instagram, but only the ones I like. Once in a while, I buy Kindle books because they’re only 1.99 but they usually go unread, partly because there’s no cover to woo me, and partly because I much prefer pages to screens.
1| All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
by Brynn Greenwood
Between the books and all the randomness (Friday is Preschool Pajama Day! Remember to defrost the chicken! Call the web guy about the funky margins on my blog! Don’t forget to never update WordPress without software husband’s supervision ever again!) there’s a lot to sift through in my head… But when I ask myself which book was my favorite read of 2017 this one shoots straight to the top. I’m not sure I’ve ever rooted harder for a character than I did for Wavy. She is the heroine to end all heroines. The book jacket says this is a love story and it certainly is, but it’s also a heroine’s impossible journey and a coming of age story. Beautifully written, page-turning plot, believable characters, and it had me crying like a baby. Wow.
2| The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
I have read a lot of true crime but nothing creepier than this work of fiction. So. Many. Nightmares. Beside the plot being so compelling, the writing was just beautiful. Atwood sucked me right into this dystopian misogynistic society and left me wondering if we are closer than we think to creating such a thing right now. And the end note… Ugh, the end note! So! Good!
by Jocelyn Glei
While it wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking—I’d read most of what Glei wrote before, albeit via random blog posts and newsletters, etc—it was concise, witty, funny, engaging, and compelling. But the best part was it literally changed my life as far as helping me break my email addiction/obsession. I’m not 100% cured but I’m significantly better since reading this book about six weeks ago.
4| Slow Motion
by Dani Shapiro
I’ve been on a Dani Shapiro jag… Ever since I read Hourglass this summer, I’ve been obsessed. I read Devotion this fall, and now this, which is my fave of hers so far. Her writing is so sharp and vivid. It engages all the senses AND compels you to keep reading to find out what happens next. What else could you want in a memoir (or any book)? This is a story of family, growing up, and identity. If books were related, and if you can compare memoir to fiction (they’re not and I am) it would be Sweetbitter’s big sister. Although I felt way more connected to Shapiro than I did to Tess (the protagonist in Sweetbitter). Maybe I felt an extra surge of love for this book because I, too, was involved with a toxic guy in my early 20’s and I could relate to being in an unhealthy relationship where the only way to get out is to grow up.
5| El Deafo
by Cece Bell
This graphic novel reminds me a little of Judy Blume, if Blume drew cartoons. It’s the autobiographical story of our heroine Cece, who is growing up deaf among hearing friends and family. I️ loved reading this with Sweet Pea, who is now five. There were parts that were over her head but still super enjoyable for both of us. It’s a story of identity, resilience, friendship, and confidence. I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers of any age, who will see themselves in young Cece and her quest for belonging.
6| Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere was hauntingly beautiful writing, a plot filled with twists and turns, characters who leap off the pages. Set in the idyllic town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, we see that things are never quite as they seem, particularly when it comes to the inner workings of a family—any family. Ng is a genius. Don’t read this book without tissues.
7| The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
I couldn’t put this book down. The dialogue, the characters’ mannerisms, and body language were so realistic. I normally don’t love a book if I don’t fall in love with the protagonist, but this was an exception. I found Nate to immature and grating yet Waldman helped me understand him, which allowed me to tolerate him. I adored Hannah. The genius of this book was that I felt Waldman excavated the mind of the non-commital immature dude, came back from her journey, and over a few glasses of wine, told every woman who ever wondered what the hell happened with a relationship that seemed to be going somewhere until the guy mysteriously bailed, exactly why it ended, by simply telling us a story. This would be a perfect book to take on vacation.