2017: My year in books!
2017 was one of the best years in reading I’ve had in ages. Goodreads tells me I read 30 books, and 11,540 pages. There were a few in there that I didn’t finish, so that’s not entirely accurate, but I’m pretty proud of myself.
This pales in comparison to some of you folks, but previously I’ve averaged about 12 books a year – with some dismal years showing counts as low as 3 books for the whole year.
Some things changed in my life to allow this, as did my approach to reading.
- Namely, I’ve become liberal about dropping books I’m not enjoying. Before, I would force myself to finish anything I started. The result, unsurprisingly, are 3 book years. Learn to let it go, and move on to something that will capture your attention.
- Audiobooks. I have a really difficult time following fiction, but found non-fiction absolutely engrossing. Which works out great, because I can’t read non-fiction – perfect!
- I allowed myself to read more than one thing at a time. At times, this was too ambitious. I’d lose momentum and interest in some books, taking months to finish them. At other times, it was nice to have something in progress that I’m actually in the mood for. I’ve found my golden balance is one audiobook, one graphic novel, one fiction. I’m trying to work that up to a fiction + short story collection, but let’s not expect any miracles.
- I abandoned the food service industry and got into bookselling. Not only is that a lot less time drinking my sorrows away, but there’s nothing more motivating than daily reminders that you are expected to have read every book in the world.
With that, I present my five favorites of the year, the “regretfully couldn’t finish”, and THE WORST!!! because I can’t ever be 100% positive.
For the full look at my reading for 2017, check out my Goodreads year in review here!
5. Waiter to the Rich and Shameless, by Paul Hartford
This book is probably not an award winner. Technically speaking, I’m a monster for putting it higher than some of the other books I read this year.
But this book fucking resonated with me. It’s a memoir about a career server hitting burn out, and it came to me at exactly the perfect time of my life. I nodded to myself as he expressed feelings of frustration and failure with the industry. The sudden realization that it’s never going to change. Coming to the conclusion that the money, addicting as it is, isn’t worth the stress and constant exhaustion.
It’s no surprise that I left the food industry just months after reading this book. So, while it’s not the next Angela’s Ashes, I thank Hartford for giving me the courage to cut myself loose from a career I was suffocating in.
4. Wolf’s Brother, by Megan Lindholm
I was totally blown away by this book, and I think it’s an atrocity that it’s not discussed more often. It’s historic fiction about nomad tribes in the Siberian arctic that mimics fantasy. In a world where everyone believes in gods and spirits, a child’s mental disability is mistaken for shamanic powers. His mother, who is a lone skeptic on the usefulness of gods and spirits, flees alone with her child before their village shaman can claim her as a wife and take her son away from her.
A really fascinating drama that explores the mysticism vs. reality of the early ages. Grab this with The Reindeer People and read them together.
3. The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson
Much like Waiter to the Rich and Shameless, this book found me at the perfect time in my life. It explores the idea that psychopaths are both common and successful in corporate worlds as upper management and CEOs. Turns out, I had no idea what being a psychopath really means. It also turns out, I’m pretty sure I’ve had run ins with quite a few of them. And you probably have too, because they really are rampant in business.
I found it eye-opening.
2. Assassin’s Fate, by Robin Hobb
There’s not much to say about this book that I didn’t already say in my review. What I will add, is that its release and the promotional tour allowed me to finally meet Robin Hobb! Earlier in the year, I flew to Seattle to attend her release party at University Bookstore. Just a month later, she came to Denver and I saw her for three days straight in panels at Comic Con.
The sad thing is, even after four consecutive meetings – I still have unsigned books!
1. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
I haven’t been able to shut up about it since I read it. It’s a page-turning, character driven, literary thriller. Holy shit, everything about this book appeals to me. Literally everything. Underneath the thriller is a sobering story about a multiracial family in 1970’s America, the issues they faced, the secrets they kept, and how all of this came down to the favorite child in the house turning up dead.
Book of the year for me, and I’m so excited to have found a new author to follow.
Did not finish
- Travelers Rest
I remember exactly nothing about this book except that I was bored the whole time. Might give it another shot in the future, just don’t think it was right for me at the time.
Second attempt to love Dune, because I feel bad that everyone loves it and I just don’t get it. I listened to maybe 85% of the audiobook before giving up and moving on. It’s just not for me.
Worst of the Year!
I’ll never understand why everyone loves this book. You can read all about why I hated it.