Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Top Ten Reads of 2017: I Even Surprised Myself

I never have an easy time picking my top ten.  I usually have a few in mind that I know without a doubt will be on the list. Others sneak up on me when I'm looking at my list and remembering how I felt about the books after I'd read them.  So even books that got a better rating than others may not show up on the list, merely because I'm contrary and might pick something with a lower rating that had a greater impact on me in the long run.  

This year I'm including a short list of honorable mentions.  Books that I really enjoyed, but didn't quite make the top ten because it's a top ten and not a top fifteen or twenty.  I have to stop myself somewhere!

Here are the honorable mentions, in no particular order:

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert.  Great historical fiction about leprosy and Hawaii.

The Lies She Told by Cate Holohan.  A story within a story, with plenty of plot twists to keep you turning the pages. 

Nutshell by Ian McEwan.  A novel told from the perspective of an unborn baby who hears his mother and her lover plotting the murder of his father.  Brilliant.  

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston.  A non-fiction adventure into the jungles of Honduras looking for a legendary lost city.  

Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village by Louis de Bernieres.  Each chapter is a story about the folks who live in an English village.  Funny, moving, and hard to put down. 

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall.  An elderly mother raises her daughter by herself, whipping up margaritas and being sassy.  A look at mother-daughter relationships.  You'll get a kick out of Polly.

The Last to See Me by M. Dressler.  An unusual ghost story.  

Caroline:  Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. A retelling of Little House on the Prairie from Caroline's point of view.  It was refreshing to be inside Ma's head.  At first I had trouble getting into it, but by the end I was tearing up as they left their little house in Kansas Territory. She was one tough lady!

And Now...The Top Ten of 2017

This was hard!  Although I think it's a very good thing when there are too many fantastic books to pick from each year.  There are books that would have surely made my list (and made my choices more difficult) if I'd gotten to them this year; so I guess that means I'll face the same difficult decisions next December. Here we go:

10.  Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
I listened to this on audio and wow, it really hit home. I'm in a time of my life where opportunities still abound, changes can be made, and there's plenty of life left to conquer.  I bought the paperback to keep in my home library.  

9.  The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

I read this novel early in the year, and I just loved it. I'm a big fan of Civil War novels, and this was one of my favorites.  It's short, but powerful. 

8.  A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

I still haven't read World Without End, the second in his series of Kingsbridge, but that didn't stop me (and it shouldn't stop you) from diving into this big book set during Elizabeth I's reign.  Follett explains history in a readable way that will send you searching for more information at your local library or bookstore.  He's such a good writer.  

7.  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

I read this for a book group, and I am so glad I did. A very good novel about immigrants in modern day New York City; their desire for a better life, and the choices they must make to create that better life.  Is it better to be an immigrant in America, or to go home and change the life you left?

6.  The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack

This novel was a total impulse buy at the bookstore, then sat in my TBR stack for a while.  When I did finally read it, I was enthralled.  Ancient history, the great Library of Alexandria, magic, and a bit of a thriller.  All ingredients for a novel I will enjoy.  

5.  See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Oh, Lizzie Borden.  How you fascinate me.  This novel was high on the creep factor, but so damn good.  Just read it.  

4.  The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett

I'm a fan of Charlie Lovett.  His novels reflect his love of books, libraries, and the knowledge they protect and pass down.  A novel set in England and about the Holy Grail?  Count me in.  This made me yearn to travel to England again.  

3.  The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

Oh, this book was one that I hadn't planned on reading, but I decided to push myself to try something different and I am so glad I did!  I still get teary-eyed thinking about Girl, and her struggle to survive.  What an amazing character.  What an amazing tale. 

2.  The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

It's no secret that Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors.  I pretty much dropped everything to read an advanced copy of this novel, which is a prequel to Practical Magic.  I adored everything about it, and if you haven't read Alice Hoffman, get to it.  She's amazing.  

And My Number One Book of 2017 is...

1. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

This novel had me eagerly anticipating its release for months, and I gladly bought the hardcover as soon as it was available.  The tale of Milo, a soul that has lived 9,995 lives is nothing less than amazing. I loved it. Maybe that's because of where I am in life, or my philosophy on souls and life purpose. But whatever the reason, Milo's quest to get it right with his remaining 5 lives--before he ends up in the nothingness, takes you on a journey through some of the lives Milo has lived over the centuries, and even on other planets and as various life forms.  An imaginative and interesting look at what it means to live with purpose, and what happens when we die. As soon as I turned the last page I knew it would be my favorite read of 2017.  

So there it is.  My life in books for the year of 2017.  I can look at these titles, and remember where I was in my life this year.  That always shapes what I read, and when I read it.  I can't wait to see where my reading life takes me in 2018.  What were your favorite reads this year?  Let me know!  I'm always fascinated by what other folks read, and why.  

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

The Bookalicious Babe 

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for your lists. Some of your favorites were books I liked very much too. Your #1 sounds like one I need to read. Happy New Year! My Top 25 list went up on my blog yesterday.