Hello, one and all, all and one. It’s time for my 2017 reading round-up. It’s been a great year for me, reading-wise. I managed to read a total of 62 books, more than I’ve ever read in a single year. Those 62 break down to 31 graphic novels, 12 fantasy stories, 9 contemporary/literary fiction books, 3 historical fiction novels, 3 pieces of nonfiction, and 2 mysteries. Gosh, you can tell I work at a library for breaking them all down like that, can’t you?
If you remember last year’s post, I answered five questions about my reading. I’m doing the same this year, but one of the questions is different. Without further ado, let’s get going.
1.What book was your biggest disappointment?
I feel kinda bad to say it was this one, especially since I liked the first book quite a bit, but it has to be One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. I was so pumped for this release, to the point where I would check our new YA shelf at work every day to see if it was there. But I was disappointed. The story seemed to meander almost as much as the characters did. In certain respects, it was a good book. Blake still retains her knack for vivid description and some of her characters did undergo interesting changes throughout the story (Jules, Katharine). But overall, this book just wasn’t good for me.
2.Which book(s) were your biggest surprise?
Last year I just had one, but this year I have two books that completely surprised me. The first is Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. I’ve never read anything by E. Lockhart before, but I knew of her reputation for creating captivating, mind-blowing stories. I’m not going into too much detail about this book, because if I were to tell you too much about it, it would definitely spoil it. So I’ll just say that the two aforementioned adjectives describe it perfectly: captivating and mind-blowing. Definitely check it out.
The second book that was a huge surprise was Warcross by Marie Lu. She’s another one that, despite how popular her work is, I’ve never read anything of. I got really excited when I heard Warcross was a story that takes place mostly during a gaming competition. I grew up as a causal gamer surrounded by much more intense gamers, and I was curious how the story would incorporate an art form that has been so important over the last 30 years. The gaming is interwoven throughout the story in such a clever way that you can tell Lu has lots of firsthand experience with it (and she does). I’ll admit that this book didn’t hook me right away but I persevered and was not disappointed. I think I’ll try to read more of her work in 2018 because Warcross was so wonderful. I also can’t wait for the sequel!
3.What’s the book you’re most likely to reread soon?
I’ve been on a Broadway musical kick this whole year and in the middle of October I finally listened to “Dear Evan Hansen” and promptly fell in love while my heart was ripped apart by this musical’s deep and gut-wrenching message. About a week later, I was bored at work and I looked up the CD on Amazon to see how much it would cost and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that they had the script available for sale. When I got home, I immediately reached for my Kindle, bought it, started reading, then had my heart ripped apart again. The musical is about a guy in high school who has extreme social anxiety and he gets caught up in a lie he tells to a grieving family. The music is beautiful but if you don’t know the background of the story, it’s a little difficult to tell what the music is all about. I guess their marketing people realized that and decided they better release the script so people could read it and know what exactly is going on. And as a script, it sets the scenes up so well and it’s just as well-written as the music and lyrics. The entire piece would be absolutely amazing to see on stage and I hope I’ll get to, someday.
4. Who are your favorite characters you encountered this year?
This is the new question! Last year, I listed my most unusual book, but I thought this was an unexpected and different question, especially since reading introduces us to so many new people.
Figuring out my favorite male character I read about this year was not difficult at all. It’s Maverick Carter from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. Maverick is a shopkeeper and an ex-inmate trying to keep his family together and safe during race riots that erupt after a cop murdered his daughter’s best friend. Maverick was so much fun to read about and such a lovable, honest character. He does his best for his family, no matter what happens to him and does his best to make up for his past mistakes. He’s also hilarious, especially his theory about the Hogwarts houses being gangs. One of many important characters from an incredibly important novel from this year, Maverick is someone I’d love to meet in real life.
My favorite female character is from a manga series I read early this year, Iku Kasahara from Library Wars. This series is about a military force dedicated to protecting people’s right to read in a world where censorship is rampant. Iku is an incredible, zany girl. She has quite a short attention span and a shorter temper that often leads her into some sort of trouble. When she’s in trouble, though, it doesn’t take her long to figure a way out of it. She’s fantastic, just like this entire manga series. If you’re looking for a new manga, definitely check this one out.
5. What are your top three books of 2017?
I read a lot of great books this year, but I decided these answers based on which books have stuck with me the longest throughout the year.
Coming in at number 3 is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. This is one of the works of nonfiction I read this year and in it Gilbert discusses not only her take on creative life and what that means but also tells the story of her creative life. I’ve never read anything by her before but I was intrigued by this book when it came out in 2015. I forgot it even existed until I had to shelve it at work and decided to take it home with me. Gilbert’s writing is incredibly accessible, even though she talks about lofty, complex ideas, you never feel lost or completely out of touch, as she grounds those ideas in practical advice and anecdotes from her life. If you’re a fan of books about creativity, this is one for you.
My second favorite book of the year is Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali. This novel tells the story of Max, a boy born in Hitler’s Lebensborn program, a program which was to effectively engineer the “perfect race”. I will say that, though this story is told from the point of view of a child, I don’t think anyone under fourteen should read this, simply due to its subject matter. That being said, I think everyone over fourteen should read this at some point. I’ve learned quite a bit about the Holocaust and the devastation the Nazi regime caused throughout the world. I never considered how devastating it would be to be a child born as a result of this program. It’s a truly eviscerating but absolutely necessary story.
And my favorite book of 2017 is….Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor!
If you remember the second of my four sentence reviews, I gushed about this book. And I haven’t stopped gushing or thinking about this story since I finished it back at the end of May. It’s the story of an orphan who has longed to journey to a forgotten city ever since he was little and he’s pretty much resigned himself to never having that dream come true. Until a group of strangers come to town and give him the chance to go to that city. This word “epic” gets tossed around when talking about fantasy stories, but this story is truly epic in its scope, world, characters, and everything. This is another book that I almost put down due to the fact that I had trouble focusing, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I would have cheated myself out of a brilliant adventure and heady romance if I had. I hope I can write like this someday.
So that’s my reading round-up for 2017! It’s hard to believe that this year is nearly over. Thank you all so much for a great year here on the blog. I hope 2017 was a great year for you and that good things are in store for you in 2018. See you next year!