2017 was one of those reading years when I had a list, a few ideas, and some wonderful surprises. I set my goal for 12 on Goodreads, and while not an ambitious mark, I like to focus on quality over quantity. I ran a poll a while back on Twitter and the majority overwhelming voted that they would rather read ten-ish amazing books than fifty middling ones.
This year’s ten-ish?
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley.
This was my first five-star read of the year. Looking for something that’s out of the box, charming, and funny? This is it. Full review here.
Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill
One of this year’s surprise reads! Stephanie really knocked it out of the park with this 20’s-era mystery. She’s the first contemporary YA author whose met my standards and I enjoyed being on the launch team for Lost Girl as well.
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
Another surprise read which I came across while stalking the archives of My Lady Bibliophile. I devoured it in a day and enjoyed it very much. I’ve yet to give it a proper review, but it had more of a plot than any of Mongomery’s other stories. I think this is because it was written as a novel and not a serial. It was also geared more towards adults, with a plotline involving the heroine reaching out to a young unmarried woman who has been shunned by the community after having a baby. While I saw right through the naturalist books, the Redfern twist was a surprise, and all in all it was a pleasant read that left me feeling content and happy.
Jeeves in the Morning by P. G. Wodehouse
This was the biggest letdown of the year. I actually started it in November of 2016 and it took me more than a year to finish. I found it rambling and all the dialogue was hard to follow. All in all, it felt like a short story unnecessarily drawn out into a novel. That is to say, it lacked purpose, unlike Code of the Woosters or even Leave it to Psmith, (which I was unreasonably biased against, if you will remember).
Favorite book of the year award goes to:
War of Loyalties by Schuyler McConkey
First off, let me say how much pleasure it gave me to write that. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!
I have waited to read this book from the moment I first heard about its existence, and it surpassed. every. ex. pec. tation.
Like The Blue Castle, I haven’t put all my feelings over War of Loyalties down on paper, but I’m going to soon.
Seriously, I can’t do it here. Just–stay tuned.
The Pied Piper by Nevil Shute
This is one of those books that kept me captivated, but where I’m not actually sure if I liked it. As in, it was well written, but I don’t know if I’d read it again. (Full review coming soon.)
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Now, this is a book I would read again. (Any book that mentions Buchan more than once is worth at least looking into, I should think.) I don’t read a ton of books that are heavy on the romance, (mostly because it’s hard to find good ones, and partly because I shouldn’t read too many and I would ;P) but this book was a treat. Kind of like a chocolate truffle: deep, exciting, and so so decadent. The French chateau setting and the family intrigue and the party and the descriptions of the food (that soup Linda eats near the end, oh la la) were all too delightful. It was one of my top books for the year, probably coming ahead of Lost Girl for #2 place.
I didn’t listen to a ton of books this year, partly because my local library discontinued Hoopla and my access to free ones was cut off. But I hope to listen to many more in 2018 as they make a great distraction while I’m working on mindless little tasks in business that really only engage my hands and not my mind.
Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was so so creepy. That’s all. Much of the day I listened to it involved me in a mannequin challenge stance looking something like this.
The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne
Having never read Milne before The Red House, it made for an interesting introduction to his writing. The book was interesting, well plotted, and quite complex, with a lot of little threads you have to hold onto to keep up with the story. Its flavor was similar to The Secret of Chimneys and The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie; perhaps it was the settings, or the era, or the fact that all had a Watson-sidekick character named Bill who is shallow, but Very Nice, and good with the ladies.
Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse
The delinquent Old Etonian redeemed himself in this book. I liked seeing him as a purveyor of right and justice and I loved the colorful setting of New York in the ‘teens, just as Wodehouse must have known it. Psmith seems to bring out his wild side, as two of his stories have involved gunplay and criminal minds, something no other Wodehouse books that I know of utilize. Great fun. I also listened to Mike and Psmith, and while I liked the bank setting and the dinner party scene amused me muchly, I was a little lost amid the cricket talk. Oh, well.
I didn’t read a lot of non-fiction this year, something I want to change in 2018, but not a lot is not none, so here’s what I recall.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
If you like Chip and Jojo and you haven’t read it yet, here’s your next dose of Fixer Upper. Nothing groundbreaking but a nice read nonetheless.
(started) The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence
WhEw. I’ll come back to this one with a full review–if I survive its deserts. ( I could have done with fewer descriptions of them.) I got about halfway through it on a road trip in April and I hope to revisit the second half next year. My interest in the Middle East during WW1 was piqued way back when I read Greenmantle a couple of years ago, and honestly, I kept getting Sandy Arbuthnot all mixed up with T. E. Lawrence. Apparently, desert fever is a Thing.
The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood
Promising but a dreadful long bore. Lured in by the free preview of the first chapter, which does not in any way set the tone for the rest of the book, I borrowed it thinking it was a book about the lifestyle of the upper-classes between the war. There were bits of that bogged down by lengthy sagas of countless country houses and sprinkled with stories of people whose lifestyles I really didn’t want to read about. Meh.
However, it was almost made worth it by the anecdote of Lord Randolph, Winston Churchill’s father, who shot a friend’s dog at a hunt and gave it to them, stuffed, in a glass case for Christmas.
Do Over by Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff narrates his own books and makes them fun to listen to. I highly recommend them all, even Start and Finish, neither of which I’ve read, because I know they’re good.
So that my more-like fourteen-ish, not including a few others that weren’t worth mentioning. What did your reading for 2017 look like?