Best Books of 2017

I started doing an annual round-up of the books I loved a couple of years back, but for one reason or another I didn’t end up sharing my picks for 2017. Seeing as it’s almost the end of 2018, I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of my favorite books from the titles I read last year…it’s about time, right?

Fiction

It’s a total coincidence, but I still love the fact that all of my favorite books that I read last year were written by women. Some are old, some are new, but all of them were really, really good:

Even though Bel Canto is about a diplomatic hostage situation, author Ann Patchett manages to take what would be normally be a horrifying, violent situation and transforms it into a moving story about the things that bring us together as humans, even when we’re divided by political or social borders.

King Lear is probably my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, and I love the fact that author Jane Smiley chose to reinterpret it through the eyes of one of Lear’s daughters in her novel, A Thousand Acres, which I read last fall. (And no, it’s not the one he likes.)

Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky might be slow for some, but keep in mind this is an unfinished work- there may still be some kinks in the story, but you can still appreciate this collection of novellas for its beautiful prose.

The main character in Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics is brainy, verbose, and maybe just a little bit obnoxious, but I ended up falling in love with her (and the book’s cast of quirky characters) anyway. (It’s another one I read last fall.)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is like a perfect fairytale, but for adults. Even if you’re not into fantasy, I still insist you read this. I’m not even kidding when I say I couldn’t put it down. (It first appeared on my bookshelf here.)

Although English author Kate Atkinson is quite prolific, I’ve never gotten around to reading one of her books until I picked up Life After Life (another recommendation from the waiting room). I wasn’t disappointed- this tale of a perpetually reincarnating girl kind of blew my mind. (What was disappointing? Its follow-up, A God in Ruins, which I read this year. In my opinion, it didn’t even come close to the awesomeness that is this book.)

Non-Fiction

I’ll read just about anything, and I would say about one-third of what I read is non-fiction. No topic is off-limits; I like to keep an open mind. You can get me interested in just about anything, as evidenced below.

When he’s not exploring the mysteries of Germany’s Black Forest, author and forester Peter Wohlleben is writing about them. It may seem like the most boring topic in the world, but don’t be fooled: The Hidden Life of Trees is actually full of fascinating discoveries. (For example, did you know trees can communicate with each other? Yeah, my brain exploded too.)

Everyone knows that reading and writing go hand-in-hand, but Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose gave me a whole new perspective on the way that I write, as well as the way I read. It’s a must if you’re a self-confessed bookworm like me.

I wrote about the mini-controversy presented by the hygge trend a while back, but despite its ties to commercialism I still really enjoyed The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. I’d even say that it’s useful- it’s basically a manual on how to slow things down for someone who has trouble slowing down.

What are some of the books you enjoyed last year? Did you read any of the titles I talked about here? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com with your top picks, or leave your recommendations in the comments below.

Psst- wanna see which other books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.