A good book is an event in my life ~ Stendhal (That shows as being cut off, sadly.)
(Will clarify that many of the books on my Best Books in 2017 may not necessarily have been published in 2017.)
Best Books Read in 2017
In July, I compiled a list of my best read at the midpoint of the year. Those 6 favourites still stand in this best read category. They were: The Rain Before it Falls, by Jonathon Coe; Hum if You Don’t the Words, by Bianca Marais; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman; Deafening, by Frances Itani; The Practice House, by Laura McNeal; and The Lost Diaries of Susanna Moodie, by Cecily Ross. And now as we (finally) reach the end of this year, I’m adding just two more to this list:
The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley and The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander, by Lesley Choyce (John Alexander also made the list of best book covers for All Lit Up). Both of these books received 5-stars from me and go with the mainly 5-and 4-star reads mentioned above. The writing and the characters in The Loney and the humour, love and the characters in The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander easily earn these two places in my best read list for 2017.
Clearly, character development was a distinguishing characteristic for success in my reading this year. Characters like Eleanor, Beauty and Robin, John Alex and Rosamond fixed themselves firmly in my heart. Strength and tenacity were also imperative characteristics for the female characters to have that I read about.
Deserving of Mention in 2017
I’m also adding three more books to the “Deserving of Mention” category:
The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash; The Boat Runner, by Devin Murphy; and Crimes of the Father, by Thomas Keneally. Wiley Cash’s book was very different from his other two, but no less great. My favourite remains A Land More Kind Than Home, but The Last Ballad is something so different and very special. He’s only getting better with every book, so I’m eagerly awaiting another Wiley Cash novel! The Boat Runner was an exquistely written debut. I highly recommend. Crimes of the Father was excellent and beautiful!
This brings the total number of books deserving of mention to 10. So in total, 18 books really knocked it out of the park for me this year. That doesn’t seem like too many seeing as I read approximately 105 books this year, but these 18 all rest in the Fiction/Book category. This list isn’t taking into consideration the audiobooks, which I am going to be listing under a separate post, or any of the non-fiction and short story collections I read in this year. More on those two genres below:
I’m pretty happy to say I read a lot of non-fiction this year! Far more than I’ve ever read before. There are two that will be receiving “worthy mention” status in my audiobook list, but the two standouts in non-fiction in my 2017 reading would be, What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and The Bettencourt Affair, by Tom Sancton. But they aren’t necessarily the “best” books I read this year, so I’ve seperated them from those 8 listed above.
Following recent years where I haven’t read any, or not too many short story collections at all, I read two this year and both were fantastic! (although, I do also have 2 books listed in my “Deserving of Mention” category, where I say they are structured like short stories. This is one reason why they were so successful for me.) 2014 was more of a banner year for my short story reading – 5 collections read, only 2 in 2015 and none at all in 2016. So only picking up two this year and both making my best read list is pretty great. The Old World, by Cary Fagan and Artefacts, by Rebecca Burns were both unique and powerful collections. Interestingly enough, both dealt with “artifacts” or heirloom objects in a way – with Fagan spinning fantastically imagined stories out of old photographs and Burns creating stories showing how objects or personal items held great meaning and power for the people in the stories. I highly recommend both.
As far as gender stats go, of the 22 books discussed here, 14 were written by women and 8 by men. Sadly, I can’t claim a great deal of diversity in this list, as only one is written by a woman of colour. That doesn’t mean I didn’t read diversely this year, because I did. It’s just that of these 22 books, there’s a lot of white bread showing. 8 of those books are Canlit, and towards the end of the year I was reading more in the Canlit category than ever. Of the 8 in my “best” list, 4 were personal choices borrowed from the library, 2 were books I owned and had purchased for myself and the other 2 were sent from the publisher (both came from Penguin Random House Canada).
While composing these “best of” lists, I paused to reflect over my past few years of reading. While this year did have some excellent books come my way, it just didn’t seem to have that oomph that some other years had. I’ve got plans on writing a flashback post where I wax nostalgic for those years when it was one amazing book after another amazing book landing in my lap. That’s coming soon….
Until then, I hope you enjoyed seeing the books I marked as best read in 2017. And I always look forward to hearing about your choices for best books of the year. Tell me all about them!
Happy End to 2017!