I read 34 books this year which is 4 books more than my goal at the beginning of the year. The folks at Goodreads.com made another cute End of Year infographic this year for their users.
This is what my year in reading looked like:
I read a lot of great books and honestly I’m not sure I could pick one as the very best – but these are the five books I enjoyed reading most this year.
ALL The Books I Read This Year
- This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison – Finished 1/24 – I thought that the premise of this book was interesting and the POV was cleverly done but it was a bit slow and the jumping back and forth was occasionally tedious. liked but didn’t love. BC
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Finished 2/22 – I got a lot more out of this book than I was expecting to. The varied narrators forced me to get inside the minds of people from many different walks of life, even when I didn’t want to, even when it was uncomfortable. I liked that every person in this story was coming from a different place, had different things going for them or against them, but none of them were perfect, none of them felt like they had the upper hand in life. This is an emotional and uncomfortable story but it was also important and I’m so glad that I read it. BC
- The Crown (Selection #5) by Kiera Cass – Finished 3/1 – This was a much better read than the previous book. I think we were all a little surprised at how unlikable Edalyn turned out to be, but luckily this seems to have been the author’s intention all along – the second half of the last book saw some hopeful signs of character growth and this definitely continued on into The Crown. Edalyn has grown a lot and seems to have turned the corner. She has learned to let others in and experience the world through new eyes and even better – she falls in love.
- Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner – Finished 3/22 – It was interesting to read a mystery story told with a revolving set of narrators who all have their own point of view of what is happening. I did occasionally find the police jargon (especially the more British specific-terms) confusing, but overall I liked the story. The ending felt a little rushed / wrapped up too quickly but that is so common in so many books. One thing I especially liked about this story was the almost feminist slant to the book. There are no manic pixie dream girls here, no knights in shining armor and there is a lot of lip service given to the complexities of being a woman in law enforcement. BC
- The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg – Finished 3/27 – I love the idea of hygge and enjoyed reading more about it but I found the book to be longer than it needed to be to get its point across.
- Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson – Finished 4/4 – It was inspiring to read the imperfect drafts of such an incredible poet. some of the poems are brilliant, some more incoherent than others. I loved getting to read the poems in her handwriting, complete with scribbled out lines and rewrites. it was like being on a fly on the wall and seeing her process first hand.
- Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer – Finished 4/20 – I think any fan of the Lunar Chronicles will enjoy this one but I’m not convinced it will work for someone who hasn’t read the original series – that said, if you haven’t read the original series yet, what are you waiting for?? It’s amazing! So assuming you have read the original books, is this one worth it? Ummm, yes. Because I assume you are going through withdrawals right now and wondering what the crew is up to. This is a short read that gives you all the fangirling you need. It’s super fun to actually SEE all of the character – it really brings the whole story to life in a new way. And it ends on a bit of a cliff hanger so be prepared to bite your nails at the end and moan and groan a bit that the next book isn’t out yet. Seriously??
- Paper Princess by Erin Watt – Finished 4/22 – This book definitely falls under the category of guilty pleasure. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens as it gets surprisingly racy. The premise intrigued me and I found myself quickly pulled into the lives of the main characters – I devoured it in two days and downloaded book two pretty much immediately. This is not a perfect book but it is a quick, addictive one.
- Broken Prince by Erin Watt – Finished 4/24 – I didn’t love this one quite as much as the previous book but that didn’t stop me from blowing through it in two days again. In book two there are two narrators, which is pretty typical in this kind of series, but I often found myself forgetting whose chapter I was reading which shouldn’t have been a problem as the characters are pretty different. But the plot of the story continues to escalate and kept me hooked to the end.
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – Finished 5/22 – I loved this book. It’s heartwarming and funny but also heartbreaking and shocking at turns. The main character, Madeline, will make a place in your heart as you are reading and won’t leave.
- Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling – Finished 5/23 – This is the written transcript of a commencement speech that she gave at Harvard – so it’s a very quick read but totally worth it. Whether you are a writer, a reader or just a human looking to be inspired.
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – Finished 5/24 – This book starts off with a pretty fascinating premise and I think did a good job of following through on exploring all the ins and outs of the idea of the road not taken and what it would look like if science managed to give us the opportunity to see all of those roads. It is at turns complex, harrowing, fascinating and heart breaking. Sometimes the science fiction leaps taken felt absurd and sometimes a character’s reactions to what was happening felt impossible but this was a book that required numerous leaps of faith so I did my best to ride those waves through to the end. It’s not a perfect story, I have a few qualms and minor irritations with it – but I also think it was an extraordinary undertaking that the author clearly worked his butt off seeing it through to the end. It was definitely a brain bender! BC
- The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – Finished 5/29 – This was a bookworm / travel bug’s dream book. It explores that whole idea of starting life anew somewhere else; taking a big risk and starting over. Mix in descriptions of the Scottish countryside, book references galore and a love story that you’ll want to root for. Can’t go wrong!
- Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan – Finished 6/7 – Another great story by Jenny Colgan, who is quickly becoming a favorite author. This is another sweet love story set in the UK – this time the book’s heroine decides to open up a cupcake shop after losing her job and her boyfriend on the same rotten day. The book follows all the ins and outs of starting the business but also delves into the inner lives of nearly every character that our MC comes into contact with. Sometimes I liked this, other times it felt distracting from the story but on the whole I really enjoyed the book and fully plan to read more Jenny Colgan soon!
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Finished 6/21 – This book took me awhile to get into initially but I did end up enjoying it for the most part. It’s not an easy book to read – between the rather heaviness of the subject matter and the frequent narrator changes – but it definitely held my attention once the story got going. It was hard to keep reading sometimes as the main character just could not catch a break and often the outcome looked so grim that I could barely keep going but I’m glad I stuck with it. BC
- A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – Finished 7/1 – I thought this was a really intriguing take on the world of Sherlock Holmes, not what I was expecting. It’s kind of a mix of John Green and Arthur Conan Doyle. Great for fans of Sherlock or YA lit but maybe not the purists. If you don’t tend to like retellings of favorite stories then you probably want to sit this one out.
- Wanderlost by Jen Malone – Finished 7/8 – This book took me by surprise. At first I wasn’t sure about it – the main character is kind of hopeless initially and her lack of personal initiative really bothered me. But the premise was intriguing and the descriptions of her travels pulled me in. Then the love story caught me totally off guard and kept me reading into the wee hours of the night against my better judgement.
- Map to the Stars by Jen Malone – Finished 7/13 – Jen Malone knows her way around a love story. This book was frustrating to read at some points – the main characters make some pretty terrible decisions that could be avoided with honest conversation but I guess the same could be said of most human beings. That said, the chemistry and banter between the main characters is palpable and it seems like a pretty realistic if groan-worthy look at what it’s like for young movie stars to attempt an honest relationship with someone.
- The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – Finished 7/18 – This was such a sweet read. I liked the family dynamics a lot – the main character has a very unique upbringing that is kind of refreshing to read about. Her parents are incredibly cool and also just really GOOD parents. The love story is great, too. You go through all the emotions with her as she figures out what she wants and then convinces herself to go for it. The story is realistic and feels very modern and real and has a strong vibe of hope and optimism running through it even when the main character isn’t feeling either of those things. My only complaint is that there are so many pop culture references that are fun to read today but might be confusing say twenty years from now when most of the references will be too vague to immediately understand.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Finished 7/24 – This book sucked me in and refused to let me go until it was over. The characters are excellent and the plot will definitely grab you. Anxious for the next book!
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Finished 8/4 – I enjoyed this book but it took me awhile to finish. it’s very long and I picked it up and put it down a few times. I enjoyed all the 80s pop culture references and the plot of the story. I can see why it’s being made into a movie.
- Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel by by Amy Corzine and Charlotte Brontë – Finished 8/8 – I had a hard time following the plot as I haven’t read the novel. I’d consider this a kind of cliffs note version of the original story but I enjoying the artwork and finished the book in one sitting.
- Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by by Mariah Marsden Brenna Thummler
- The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – Finished 8/23 – This book can probably be best described as disturbing. I thought the premise was interesting and Atwood definitely took the story to places I didn’t see coming, but basically all the characters are terrible people and it definitely had scenes that made me squirm uncomfortably. Not for the faint of heart. BC
- Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King and Jane Austen – Finished 8/25 – Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels and I tend to enjoy most adaptations of it. This was no different. I’ve read several graphic novel versions of classic novels now but this series of manga classics is my favorite. They go into just enough details and do a good job expressing the heart and essence of the original without feeling overly abridged. Plus the artwork is beautiful.
- Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Stacy King and Nathaniel Hawthorne – Finished 8/28 – This is one of those classics that I loathed in high school and never actually finished so I thought it would be a good book to try in manga format. I think any effort to simplify Nathaniel Hawthorne is a good thing and definitely enjoyed this more than the original. The artwork is well done and you definitely get a good understanding of the story. It feels like the important details and the heart of the story are all intact. As for the actual story, it will probably never be a favorite of mine but I can understand its importance and even why it would be a good book to discuss in school.
- Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – Finished 9/16 – I love a good road trip story and this definitely fits the bill. it’s also a story of finding yourself, grief, family and figuring out what you want. and some romance for good measure.
- Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance – Finished 9/27 – I found myself relating to this book a lot more than I expected to. While I think the author was a bit muddled on exactly what book he was writing and why, I still got a lot out of it. It’s kind of part memoir / part social commentary but there’s definitely something to get out of it and it makes for good conversation fodder and food for thought. It’s not perfect but it’s interesting and written in a conversational style that makes it easy to read. BC
- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley – Finished 10/24 – I ended up liking this book a lot more than I was expecting to. The cool thing about a book like this is getting to revel in that voyeuristic tendency – the thing in our brain that makes us turn and stare at a car crash. We want to know more even though it’s none of our business. Over the course of the book we learn more about all the characters, how they came to be on the plane and how it might tie into the resulting crash. Of course you find yourself drawing connections that aren’t there or just aren’t relevant. It wasn’t always fun to read – some of the characters are awful and sometimes the jumping from one plot point to another was intensely annoying as stuff would be starting to “get good” and then we’d be forced to read about someone and something else entirely that felt irrelevant perhaps or just not as interesting. And because all the characters are fairly realistic, none of them are inherently good. They all make mistakes and bad choices. But there are definitely a few that you will root for more than the others, which I think is helpful in keeping a reader engaged. I’d probably give this one 4 1/2 stars to be honest. BC
- The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han – Finished 10/26 – This was probably not my favorite Jenny Han but I still found it enjoyable and it definitely grew on me towards the end. It’s written in both the past and present with lots of flashbacks thrown in to kind of fill you in on the backstory of the characters but rather than being helpful it just felt distracting – like maybe this should have been two books instead of one? But in typical Jenny Han fashion, I found myself getting emotionally attached to the characters anyway and yes of course I want to read book two. It has that same sweetness that you are used to if you have read Han before and the juxtaposition of that sweetness meeting the sometimes gritty nature of the so called real world which kind of brings that sweetness to a realistic place that isn’t so saccharine.
- Reading People by Anne Bogel – Finished 10/2017 – It’s not very often that I read a nonfiction book like this from cover to cover. I’m an amateur personality geek and a big fan of the author’s – I’ve been reading her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy for years. I wasn’t sure how beneficial a book outlining various personality tests would be but I actually got a LOT out of this book. She does a good job explaining various tests out there and what the information from the results can do for your actual life and how to best get an accurate result. I definitely turned into one of those people who would not shut up about myers briggs and ennegram and introverts / extroverts, etc. I think I got to know myself a lot better reading this and also a few of the people near and dear to me. The only problem is that now I have much more reading to do!
- Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal– Finished 11/27 – This is one of those books that would benefit from a half star option because it really hovers between 3 and 4 stars for me. I enjoyed the overall plot of this story and getting to know a new to me culture; exploring the ways that we are all the same even when we seem so different either generationally or culturally. There is an underlying mystery that kept me intrigued and a bit of a love story as well. I did feel that the pacing was a bit off and some of the foreshadowing felt forced. I also felt the ending tied up a bit too neatly for my liking. It didn’t stop me from enjoying reading it though. BC
- Level Up by Cathy Yardley – Finished 12/22 – This was a lightning fast read that made me blush. Gratuitous geeky references, file this one under guilty pleasure. I took some issues with the writing itself but the chemistry between the main characters and the underlying plot kept me reading to see it through.
- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – Finished 12/28 – Anna Kendrick is 100% a kindred spirit. This book was funny and self deprecating – we’re basically BFFs now.
Here’s to another great year of reading!
What was the best book you read this year?