Best Books of 2017

You may remember that last year I made it my goal to read 52 books in 2017. I am thrilled to announce that I exceeded my goal and read 62 books this year! Unfortunately this goal accomplishing streak did not extend to the one new recipe a week, or the one load of laundry a day, or the stop shouting at the kids, or the start substitute teaching goals. But books. So that is enough, right?!

I should clarify that while that magical 62 does not include the 12,604 picture books I read this year, it does include many children’s novels. While I am okay with that, I understand if that fact skews my numbers in your view. For my part, the only stipulation on my reading goal was that the books be novel length chapter books. All 62 fit into that very broad category. The more specific category break down goes like this:

  1. Children’s Middle Grade – Junior High novels – 35 books
  2. Adult Literary Fiction – 11 books
  3. Adult Non – Fiction – 7 books
  4. Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy – 5
  5. Adult Historical Fiction – 2
  6. Young Adult – 2

Looking back, 2017 has been a very good literary year for me. For the most part, I have come away from this collection of books proud of my choices. I wish I had been able to read more, much more, in the fantasy genre, and in years to come I will need to step my young adult game for the oncoming teenage years, but for this year, I am contented with the content and selection represented.

Of these books, 28 of them feature a main character of a different nationality or ethnicity from my own and 26 of them were authored by writers of a different nationality or ethnicity from my own. This is very exciting to me and yet, I was hoping those numbers would be even closer to exactly half.

While it has been a successful year, reading wise, I have had a few mishaps along the way. This year I have had a record number of library fines. I have returned a book to the wrong library, not just once, but twice. I have lost a school library book for the first time ever. I have had books that were on hold for me re-shelved five times because I forgot they were there. Five times! And I have over spent my book budget (yes, that is a thing) exactly EVERY TIME! For a pretend librarian, I have been very cavalier with the book related responsibilities this year.

Now that you have heard the bad with the good, here are my favorites from my year in reading.

My Favorite Books Written in 2017:

  1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – This is a brutal read, in the best possible way. It is an unrelenting, irreverent, often hilarious, and devastating retelling of tragic death of Abraham Lincoln’s son. I will admit, this one is not for everyone.
  2. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehishi Coates – The book is formed from 8 different essays written by Coates over the course of the Obama administration. I found the book insightful, helpful, and very interesting. The chapter called The Case for Reparations is particularly poignant.
  3. Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo – The story follows a couple in Nigeria as they struggle with infertility, infidelity, and deep misunderstanding. It is heartbreaking and thought-provoking.
  4. Exit West by Moshin Hamid – This is a classic immigration story with a decidedly un-classical twist. Anything else will give it away!
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Police brutality, racism, and racial tension. This books does not shy away or back down from directly confronting issues through a fictionalized story of a black teenage girl whose friend is killed by police.

My Favorite Children’s Literature Written in 2017: (With recommended ages in parenthesis.)

  1. Jupiter Storm by Marti Dumas (3rd grade and up) – Dragons, magic, family drama, and life lessons! Need I say more?!
  2. Patina by Jason Reynolds (4th grade and up) – The new girl on the club track team leaves everyone guessing with her speed, her multi-racial family, and her attitude.
  3. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (5th grade and up) – This is the sequel to the bestselling, The War That Saved My Life. It is a story of bravery, acceptance, and sacrifice.

My Favorite Young Adult Books Written in 2017:

  1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Young Adult)- What ifs, revenge, and consequences literally haunt a black teenage boy as he tries to decide what is right.
  2. Solo by Kwame Alexander (Young Adult)- The story follows the son of a famous musician who cannot seem to find his place in the world. His path to self discovery leads him to Ghana, West Africa.

Overall Favorites (Books I read this year that were published previously):

  1. Kindred by Octavia Butler
  2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  3. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
  4. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  5. The Trouble I’ve Seen by Drew Hart

Overall Favorites in Children’s Literature:

  1. Stella by Starlight by Sharon M Draper
  2. Pax by Sarah Pennypacker
  3. The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley
  4. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  5. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Most Difficult Read: Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson

Biggest Literary Regret: Not being able to finish The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson this year.

Book that Got the Most Laughs: Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (reading for myself) and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford (reading to my kids).

Here is my year in review, courtesy of Goodreads, if you would like to see it all in infograph form!

Update
While the following books were not a part of my overall book count this year, I wanted to add a section for my favorite picture books and early chapter books from 2017.

Picture Books:

Early Chapter Books: Jaden Toussaint is the only early chapter book we read that was published this year. The others were all published previously. A few of my favorites were: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mrs Piggle Wiggle, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Ralph S. Mouse.

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