There are few things more satisfying than reflecting on the umpteen books I’ve read throughout the year and picking my favorites. I like to think of it as an opportunity to steal some time for myself. Part of the fun is that there’s no preparation and it’s an activity that goes well with anything. I usually pair it with red wine and my favorite sweatshirt and leggings.
I start perusing and just like that – I feel relaxed and one step closer to making the hectic season a little bit easier. It’s the silver lining to all the chaos – the perfect reprieve from long lines, endless errands and the general feeling of turmoil that takes over at this time of year.
There’s no doubt that 2017 was a good year for reading. I read a wide range of books and ended up with more favorites than usual. As it turns out, quite a few surprised me. With that said, here are my favorites for 2017 ( in no particular order).
Wow, did I love this book. It’s a story with many lessons to ponder. It explores the relationship between whites and blacks in the late 1970s south. But it also delves into the meaning of friendship, family, and loyalty. A remarkable book that highlights how far we have come but also signals the journey is not over. (More on this book here)
I love that this book is about an actual event; a fire in Maine, that burned for two weeks, destroying over 1000 homes. But ultimately, it’s Grace and her journey that pulls you in. I like her strength and resilience and how she tackles the challenges she faces. A beautifully written book about love and redemption. (More on this book here)
Some books are so special that you never forget where you were the first time you read them. ~Natalie Lloyd, The Key to Extraordinary
This is a perfect light read. I became so invested in the characters I didn’t want the book to end. Evelyn Hugo is an aging actress. She is famous for her movies but infamous for her seven husbands. The story makes you feel like you are reading the diary of a Hollywood star – like Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe. An intimate diary that tells it all – the scandals, the inner thoughts and the purposeful manipulations this star takes to be at the top. There’s also a surprise twist or two. (More on this book here)
Family dynamics, small-town politics, and power struggles make this an engrossing read. It’s a book that showcases what it means to be a mother. I love Celeste Ng’s clean writing style with descriptions that are detailed but not over the top. This is a captivating, compelling story with flawed, relatable characters. (More on this book here)
If you want to know the ramifications, complications, and perks of an open marriage – this is a must-read. Lucy and Owen are happy, but feel their marriage has lost some if its spark. On a whim, they decide that trying an open marriage for a few months (i.e. sleeping with other people), may be just what they need. They’re convinced it will bring their relationship full circle and back to the honeymoon stage. This story is humorous but also tender and poignant It’s a fun, light and engaging read. (more on this book here)
I’m not sure why I ended up reading this book. I knew nothing about it – but I’m thrilled I did. For one, the premise of this book is fascinating. A young woman, full of greed and envy sets her sights on marrying a powerful, ultra wealthy man. He’s already married and she knows this right from the start. This book is addictive with a few twists you don’t see coming. The below quote from the book summary says it all -“Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve”. Touch! (More on this book here)
Although a sequel to One Thousand White Women, not to worry if you didn’t read the first book or read it too long ago to remember the details. The author does a great job of explaining the past. This is the story of women outcast by society, who volunteer to become the wives of Indian warriors. It’s called the “Brides for Indians” program. The story is fictional, but there’s a bit of truth to it; an Indian chief did indeed ask the US Government to exchange 1000 white women for 1000 horses. The chief thought it would improve relations between the Indians and the whites. The US Government declined the offer. (More on this book here)
Upfront, please know that this book has some tough topics, but it’s a story that will hit some nerves. There are enough tender moments, but there are equally as many issues that will make you wonder if you want to continue reading. This author captures the raw emotion of topics considered off-limits by some, problems that are highly controversial. It is not a book for everyone. However, one thing is for sure; you’ll learn what it’s like to be the daughter of a meth-dealing father and a drug-addicted mother. (More on this book here)
This is a feel-good love story and a book about the love of books. Since I am passionate about reading and also have a soft spot for quaint towns and quirky people, I wanted this book to go on forever. (More on this book here)
A tale of picking up the pieces after the death of a loved one and a warm bittersweet story with characters that will wiggle their way into your heart. Of course, I loved the setting – a book-store – but I also loved how real the characters and their problems were. (More on this book here)
As long as she had books and money, nothing could be a catastrophe. ~Katarina Bivald, The Readers of Broken Wheel
As you read this book, it’s hard to believe that this disturbing story is about real events. Women were used in hideous medical experiments at Hitler’s Ravensbrüch concentration camp, leaving then disfigured, sterilized or worse. The story is well-written, intense and also gives you immeasurable insight into the struggles the survivors faced after the war. (More on this book here)
I love unique love stories – and this story is just that. A wild, untamed young girl and a warm, compassionate 70-year-old man meet and form a bond. Their journey will tug at your heartstrings. (More on this book here)
I am always trying to wrap my head around the atrocities of the Holocaust. This book is a different take on WWII. The war separates two young lovers; he becomes an SS officer and she, a Jew, is sent to a Nazi concentration camp. He is determined to find her and in the process, ends up helping many others. (More on this book here)
A book with a simple writing style but one that also forces the reader to dig deep. An emotional story about choices and how we process and move through difficult times – a beautiful exploration of love. (More on this book here)
Books about different cultures – past and present fascinate me. This story looks at an ethnic minority in a rural Chinese village. Lisa See is also an author I love. This story looks at the traditions, superstitions, and cultural practices of this region all woven into an engaging tale. (More on this book here)
This book speaks to the strength and endurance of the human spirit. It’s a beautifully written inspirational read about the muse of Andrew Wyeth, Christina Olson, the young women in Wyeth’s famous painting Christina’s World. (More on this book here)
A book is a dear friend who has a thousand things to say.
― Nicole Sager
I’m always intrigued when a book shows the contribution of woman to the war – most books do not. This story is emotionally satisfying and highlights the bravery of the woman who stayed home as the men went off to war. (More on this book here)
Historical fiction set 1880s Colorado that shows not only the place women held in society at the time – but also has fascinating insights into the court system, run by men of course. (More on this book here)
This is the story of an autistic 14-year-old girl who is adopted by a young couple and hopes they will be her “forever” family. She has special needs, but she also carries a secret too heavy for a young person to bear. Ginny’s story will twist and turn your emotions and steal your heart. This is a beautiful tale of love, understanding, and acceptance. (More on this book here)
Eleanor is quirky, and her journey is unique. She is a socially-inept young woman with a strong desire to be normal. This is troublesome for her because she bears many scars from a difficult childhood. Her attempts, however, are entertaining, and her thought process is one you are not likely to forget. Eleanor is not the only enchanting character in this story; there are many along the way you will want to embrace.(More on this book here)
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