Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2017

So many books, so little time, right? Here's a list of the books I read in 2017 that are worth the read, so choose from your preferred genres and get reading!

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Literary Fiction)
Pick this up if: You enjoy literary fiction, and following a character throughout their entire life.

You might also like: Goldfinch and A Trip to the Stars.

About: Cyril Avery is not a real Avery -- or at least, that's what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn't a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from - and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

Note: The Heart's Invisible Furies was my favorite read of the year!

A Million Junes by Emily Henry (Magical Realism/Fantasy)
Pick this up if: You like a touch of magic and mysticism in your fiction

You might also like: The Ocean at the End of the Lane or Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

About: The O'Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn't need a better reason than that. She's an O'Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O'Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period. But when Saul Angert, the son of June's father's mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can't seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn't exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe. 

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored.

Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle (Historical Fiction)

Pick this up if: You enjoy WWII Historical Fiction, or a story that hops back and forth between present and past.

You might also like: All the Light We Cannot See or The Invention of Wings

About: Florence, 1943. Two sisters, Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio, find themselves surrounded by terror and death; and with Italy trapped under the heel of a brutal Nazi occupation, bands of Partisans rise up. Soon Isabella and Caterina will test their wits and deepest beliefs as never before. As the winter grinds on, they will be forced to make the most important decisions of their lives. Their choices will reverberate for decades. 

In the present day, Alessandro Pallioti, a senior policeman agrees to oversee a murder investigation, after it emerges the victim was once a Partisan hero. When the case begins to unravel, Pallioti finds himself working to uncover a crime lost in the twilight of war, the consequences of which are as deadly today as they were over sixty years ago.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Dystopian)
Pick this up if: You want to read a book and not put it down until you've finished.

You might also like: Station Eleven, Ready Player One

About: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (Historical Fiction)
Pick this up if: You enjoy historical fiction, but sometimes shy away from war-time novels. (I find myself doing this all the time, but then I read something like The Nightingale and wonder why I don't read more.)

You might also like: All the Light We Cannot See and City of Thieves

About: The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Dystopian)
Pick this up if: You might watch the Hulu series (because you guys, the book is always better!)

You might also like: Station Eleven, The Circle

About: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Notes: The Handmaid's Tale was runner-up for my favorite book of the year!

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Feminist Theory/Commentary)

Pick this up if: You are human or want an enlightening read you can finish in a sitting.

You might also like: Americanah, The Circle

About: Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Personal Essay Collection)

Pick this up if: You're a writer yourself, love Ann Patchett, or just need a little inspiration.

You might also like: Tiny Beautiful Things

About: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett’s life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.

As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

Honorable Mentions:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Historical Fiction)
Fantastic writing. Period.

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman (Historical Fiction)
How one moment can change the course of more than one life.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy)
Remember: The book is always better

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (Psychological Thriller)
An easy, interesting read with a twist you won't expect.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (Coming of Age Fiction)
This is a slightly uncomfortable read, but intriguing. I'd be interested to know your thoughts!

What books did you fall in love with this year?

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