(*and yes at this point I am aware that we are already well into 2018)
I hate the question “What is your favorite book?” (as I assume many avid readers do). There are just so many great books out there that it is literally impossible to pick just one favorite- and to be fair I feel the same way about “what’s your favorite song?” Too many choices and too many reasons why one is great at a certain for a certain person and why another one could be equally great in a different time/place.
Regardless of my dislike for the question I did take some time to browse through my Goodreads books from 2017 and pick out my Top Ten reads of last year (well sort of top ten some of them are series which can’t really be separated from the whole- yes I could probably pick a favorite if I really, really wanted to but why put that kind of pressure on myself if I don’t have to?) So without further preamble ramblings my favorite books of 2017 (in no particular order):
The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan
This was a fantastic series! It follows Isabella, a fascinating woman, throughout her life in a Victorian-esque world where she attempts to follow her passion for dragons- specifically studying them through a scientific lens (aka exploring the natural history of dragons- hello title reference!)- even though it is nearly impossible for a young woman to be taken seriously in the scientific community, even supposing she is able to pursue science in the first place rather than just caring for the home (as is expected of most women of noble birth). Nevertheless, Isabella is not one to simply let opportunity pass her by and these books chronicle this delightful woman’s various adventures around the world as she follows her scientific passions encountering a host of interesting characters and of course the ever impressive and wildly diverse dragons!
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.” (pg. 3)
I loved this book, read more about it here.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Now most folks have probably heard of this book or at least the movie adaptation by this point but just in case you still don’t know what it is about: Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars, everyone thinks he’s dead, and now he has to figure out how to survive until someone can a) figure out that he is still alive and b) come rescue him from a desert wasteland of a planet. Weir’s account of this misadventure is humorous and engrossing as he toggles between Watney’s survival experiences and the perspective of all the folks on Earth trying to figure out how to retrieve the stranded astronaut.
The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Adored these books! A science-fiction young adult series told via a collection of various documents (official files, transcripts, etc.) the series begins with an attack on an illegal mining operation located on a rather isolated planet. It then follows a group of fleeing survivors as they attempt to make contact with the “core planets” (aka civilization) for assistance before the ship following them blasts everyone to smithereens and before an unseen threat annihilates them all from another direction. This is a fast-paced story excellently told through a very different format than most books but also done very, very well, it had me on the edge of seat every single time while also hitting some deep-seated fears I wasn’t even aware I had. Side note: don’t let the size intimidate you, yes they are big books but the format of the story telling makes them quick reads and honestly once you get into it the story is so engrossing you’ll likely be devouring them (at least I did 🙂 ).
(The final book in the trilogy was released in March 2018 so I’ve included it here for completeness sake though obviously I didn’t read it in 2017– it was a great conclusion to the series although I didn’t feel like I got to know/care about the main characters in Obsidio nearly as much as the main characters from the previous two books, but still an excellent read)
True to You by Becky Wade
Alright so this one falls into the guilty pleasure realm of I enjoy a sweet, somewhat cheesy romance every once in a while. True to You is the tale of Nora, a genealogist, and John, who runs a private security firm. Their paths cross when John hires Nora to track down his birth family, a search that begins due to him being recently diagnosed with an inherited medical disorder. It is a sweet love story with an additional mystery element and it just an all around delight to read.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Another popular book that had been adapted into a movie, Everything, Everything is the story of a teenage girl who was born without a functioning immune system and is thus essentially trapped inside her house. When a new family moves in next door she manages to befriend the teenage boy and suddenly starts to question whether it is better to remain safe but never really experience anything or if taking a risk, even for a short time, is what really makes life worth living.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman
I absolutely adored this book! It was so funny and whimsical wrapped up with a bit of intrigue as you follow Elsa as she delivers her grandmother’s apology letters. Over the course of the book you explore the different relationships she and her grandmother have with the other tenants of the building and even the members of their own family. The cast is full of endearing, curmudgeonly, and just all-around excellent characters who populate Elsa’s world.
The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
This is a series of murder mysteries following Inspector Armand Gamache an officer of the Surete de Quebec and largely centers around one small town in Quebec that sees a shocking number of murders. These are charming stories that seem rather reminiscent of Agatha Christie- largely in that they are more traditional murder mysteries than the psychological thriller-type mystery that seems more prevalent lately.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Fascinating book that follows one family as they try eating only locally sourced foods for an entire year. It includes recipes and articles from the author’s husband who is actually a professor of agriculture. Definitely made me think more about how to eat in a way that is more ecologically friendly with the added benefit of helping local farmers.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
This was an adorable YA story following a shy/introverted teenager who is secretly the creator of a very popular webcomic and of course shenanigans ensue when she meets and befriends a new classmate who just happens to be the most popular writer of fan fiction based on her comic series. This was a fun romp that I just couldn’t put down and ended up finishing in about one day. Highly recommended for anyone who loved Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (especially if you enjoyed Fangirl but wanted less Simon Snow stuff).
~ ❤ ~ MegRose