Oh yes, it’s that time of year when everyone’s talking reflections from last year and goals for next year. I’ve got a lot of each of those, too, but one of my life goals, just generally speaking, is to read as much as possible. This will come as no surprise from the girl who invited her friends to come over and read growing up.
I wish I was kidding. I’m not kidding. One or two kind souls even agreed on a few occasions. It didn’t occur to me until much later that that was not every 11 year old girl’s ideal scenario for hanging out with friends. Well, the last laugh is mine because book/wine clubs and quiet activities are much more socially acceptable now that I’m almost 30… Been waiting decades for this! Anyways, back to reading goals. I read 10 books by June in 2017, so I challenged myself to fit in another 10 before the year’s end because 20 is nice even number. Since I am the Queen of Saying Yes to Everything, fitting in the last 10 books were more challenging than I anticipated but I did it.
If you’re an avid reader or want to compare notes, you can see my list of The 20 Books I Read in 2017 below. I also included my opinions on each. Because this is my internet home. ANYHOW. Enjoy!
List O’ Books
by Donna Mabry
About a woman named Maude coming of age during the Great Depression. If you’ve been complaining about a lot of First World Problems lately, this one will bring you right back down to Earth.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
by Maria Semple
I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky read! The story feels fresh, and Bernadette is so weird and eccentric. #kindredspirits I think this story would make a fantastic movie.
by Emma Straub
A lot of reviews were critical of Emma Straub’s long, winding descriptions but I loved the vivid pictures she painted and the nuanced relationships in this book! I loved the cover art as well – the colors were amazing! (Oh hi, did you forget whose post you were reading?)
The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware
Absolute page-turner. I am such a wimp when it comes to anything that’s slightly creepy or mysterious but this was good. Plan to read way past your bedtime.
In the Company of Women
by Grace Bonney
Inspiring to hear from women in all industries, locations, ages, life stages, etc, especially if creative endeavors are close to your heart. Fun to read all the way through, but easy enough to pick up on any day you need a little encouragement.
The Girls: A Novel
by Emma Cline
I was very intrigued by the getting-sucked-into-a-cult-thing. This was not a favorite of mine and I probably wouldn’t broadly recommend it. There are some…descriptive…parts so don’t freak out the person sitting next to you on your next flight. A positive? I was a big fan of the cover art for this book.
by Glennon Doyle Melton
Glennon Doyle wrote about some of the major struggles she faced in her life and relationships, and her triumphs were hard fought. I immediately looked Glennon up on Instagram after I finished the book, and realized her life has changed a lot since the last page of Love Warrior!
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan
I really like “Rah, rah! Ambition! Goals!” in small doses. This book had a good mixture of big picture and practical steps for reaching your goals. I think this book is most digestible in small bits; it feels daunting when consumed all at once. But overall, a good read for those of use who A) love to make lists and B) don’t know where to start on those long, ambitious lists.
The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown
“A friend of mine” struggles with perfectionism…maybe one of your “friends” does too? Brené Brown bridges research and real life, science and heart so well. This would make a thoughtful gift, but only for someone you know really well. This was a really important book for me. I probably need to reread it every year for forever.
by RJ Palacio
Incredible. Not to be one of those “the book was better than the movie” snobs, but the book was better than the movie. Regardless, I hope a lot of folks saw the movie because I think it’s important messages need to be heard far and wide. In my extremely humble opinion, this should be required reading in middle schools (and elementary schools, high schools, churches, workplaces, etc).
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
Another total page-turner. Definitely in my Top Three. I have not started watching the series on Hulu because… because I’m not sure I can endure the story again. I had to take a breather after finishing this book, and it continues to stick with me. Perfect for the conspiracy theorist in your life 😉
Truly Madly Guilty
by Liane Moriarty
I was disappointed with this book. So much build up! So much anticipation! Meh. Couldn’t wait for it to be over. Loved everything else she’s written, but not this one.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
by Jenny Lawson
This was my first encounter with Jenny Lawson so I was not entirely familiar with her goofball personality. I very much appreciated her candid stories of living with and treating her mental illnesses. The whole book was a little scattered, which I think might’ve been the point? But, yeah, just a “meh” for me.
The Ladies’ Room
by Carolyn Brown
Definitely not my most intellectual read, but it was a quick, trite, light-hearted story. Plus I read the whole thing in a Southern accent (in my head). Or maybe out loud. You don’t know!
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
by Jeannette Walls
I didn’t know about this book until the movie trailer was on TV. Serious snaps to the author who overcame some serious setbacks and fit a great deal of living into her life. I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t just a story… it was her life.
Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard
by Jennie Allen
This definitely falls under the Spiritual/Christian genre. My biggest takeaway from this book was that humans are not created to do or handle everything on our own; attempting to do so leaves little to no room for God and little to no room to connect with other humans. Our perceived inadequacies are intentional so no amount of effort, technical skills, or money can fill in those gaps. This is another book I should reread every year for forever. Another thoughtful gift for a pal who could use a little encouragement.
Be Frank With Me: A Novel
by Julia Claiborne Johnson
There’s a Husker shoutout in this one! I enjoyed the unexpected story and amazing personalities in this book. Not my favorite ending, but it added a nice level of variety to 2017 list.
Small Great Things: A Novel
by Jodi Picoult
This novel is a timely read centered around racial prejudice and the justice system. Jodi Picoult has never shied away from hot topics and this book was no exception.
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Susan M. Weinschenk, PhD
People are so weird! But I live for stuff like this. I often wonder if I could hack it in a different profession or industry, but when I read stuff like this I am quickly reminded that I’m generally on the right path.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
Only pick this one up if you have a good sense of humor! It is really funny, but occasionally crude since it’s told from a teenage guy’s point of view. I’m not saying every teenage guy is crude…just kidding, that’s exactly what I’m saying. If you did not catch the title, there are quite a few Biblical references throughout the book, but the author sometimes offers a really clever twist or explanation to some events. Like I said, sense of humor required.
Now that I’ve typed all those out because I WANTED TO and it was fun recalling each book, I should add “Create Goodreads Account” to my 2018 goals. I hope you found a few good books to add to your list. What are some books you absolutely loved or needed to read last year? I want to hear about them – please share below!