I'm not sorry to see 2017 draw to a close - it's been a trying year on many levels. Despite a massive reading slump in the late summer/early fall, I read the same number of books as last year, averaging a comfortable one book per week pace. Of particular interest was a dramatic increase in nonfiction. I usually average around 30% nonfiction, but in 2017 nonfiction accounted for a whopping 44% of my reading.
Here is the list of my favorite books read in 2017, obviously not all were published this year. An asterisk denotes a read/listen combination... my favorite way to consume long novels, especially classics, and nonfiction.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Set in NYC during the financial collapse of 2008, this novel juxtaposes the lives of a wealthy Lehman executive with that of his Cameroonian immigrant chauffeur. The immigration aspect is especially timely and it offers an interesting perspective on the issue. I even read it before Oprah selected it for her book club ;-)
*The Nix by Nathan Hill
I absolutely loved the writing in this debut novel. At over 600 pages, it required quite a time commitment, but the ending made it all worthwhile. Meeting the author was a big plus, too.
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth StroutThis collection of short stories revisits characters introduced in My Name is Lucy Barton. In fact, the author worked on both books at the same time. It stands on it's own, but my experience was enriched by a quick reread of Strout's earlier novel.
The People in the Photo by Hélène GesternMy unexpected treasure of 2017! I'd never even heard of it until goodreads suggested I might enjoy this "dark yet touching drama which deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love."
*The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony TrollopeYou know any of my favorites lists must include at least one Trollope novel! This is the third book of the Palliser series, but is able to stand on its own... and might even be a good introduction to the author.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgAnother excellent novel from Celeste Ng and winner of the goodreads choice award for best fiction of 2017, I'll be recommending this one to my book club.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel KeyesThe first book of my Rereading High School project, I didn't expect such a string emotional response to this novel and am glad it's still assigned to junior high/high school students.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
*Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara DemickPublished nearly a decade ago, this book still offers valuable insight into North Korean life and culture.
Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman (audio)Grocery stores, along with their operation and management, are endlessly interesting to me... just wish they could all be like Wegmans! This was a fascinating audiobook.
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence (audio)The audio version of this book was a delight. If you're into books about books, you might love it, too.
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica BruderThis is NOT a book about merry bands of retirees exploring America in RVs, but rather a tale of the American dream gone awry. There is a sizable (and growing) portion of 21st century retirees who roam the country living in vans, RVs, and even cars traveling from job to job. Bruder lived the life for several years in order to tell this story.
Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker (audio)Everything you ever wanted to know about wine and then some... with the added bonus of a little Mary Roach-like taste science. The author does an excellent job narrating her book.
I'll be back this weekend with some final stats and thoughts to wrap up 2017 and look ahead to 2018. Happy New Year!