The Books I Read This Year: 2017 Edition

Happy New Year!

Over the last couple of years, I have done a post to capture the books I managed to read over the course of that year. With the help of Goodreads, I have challenged myself the last two years to read at least 12 books during the course of a year. Reading has always been one of my passions, but as I got busy with work and children, I made less and less time to enjoy a good book. Challenging myself to meet a goal of a book a month has been a fun way to motivate myself.   I managed to make it through 16 books in all even if a couple of them were a comic books or young adult novels.

My tastes are a little bit all over the map. If you asked me my favorite book genre, I’d have to say science fiction and fantasy. But if you look at what I’ve read over the last year, biographies and non-fiction have snuck their way into my reading list.

With the help of my iPad and the Overdrive app making it super easy to borrow digital books from the library, here is the list of the books I read in 2017. I list them from the first one I read back in January to the one I just finished in December. I have two books I am currently reading, but I won’t take credit for them until I finish them, which will most likely be January 2018.

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher

I wrote a blog post about this book back when I read it. You can go to it here.  I found that I was really affected by the loss of Carrie Fisher this time last year, so I made it my  mission to read all of her autobiographical books.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance

Like many folks in the world, I struggled to understand what was happening in my country as we went through one of the nastiest elections I have lived through. This book made the rounds on the various NPR stations I listen to. Well written, I enjoyed Mr. Vance’s extremely honest recounting of his difficult early life and how he turned himself around through an enlistment in the Marines and eventually putting himself through Yale Law School.

Shockaholic, by Carrie Fisher

This was the last of my Carrie Fisher reads in my 2017 books.  This one focused a bit more on her relationship with her father, and pretty much broke my heart. Were it not for her humor, I’d have cried through the whole book. This is another one I borrowed the audio book from the library and listened to on my drives to/from work. It breaks my heart that we no longer have Carrie Fisher with us.

Shattered Empire, Comic by Marvel and Disney

By now you know I am a Star Wars: original trilogy fanatic. I bought the hardbound collection of the Shattered Empire comics that came out over the last couple of years, and it sat unread next to my bed since The Force Awakens came out. I decided to finally read it.  This one gives some of the back story of Poe Dameron’s parents, who were part of the rebellion on Endor after the fall of the Death Star II.  It was a fine addition to the SW canon. I neither loved nor hated it.

Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between, by Lauren Graham

This is the year I finally became a Gilmore Girls fan. Yes, I know, it took me long enough. With the revival out on Netflix, my daughter and I decided to pour through all of the episodes before checking out the new ones. It was glorious mother/daughter time, and even though we were definitely not fans of the episodes with Rory and Lorelai fighting (went on way too long), we fell in love with their banter. Lauren Graham’s timing was always hilarious, and when I saw she had an autobiography out, my daughter and I had to listen to the audiobook version. If you liked Lauren, and Gilmore Girls, I’d definitely recommend this.

Armada, by Ernest Cline

A coworker of mine recommended I read “Ready Player One” a few years back, and I instantly fell in love with the 80s nostalgia. Really looking forward to the Steven Spielberg adaptation next year. I bought Armada when it came out but just kept not getting around to reading it. That changed in March. If you liked Mr. Cline’s writing style in his first book, you will enjoy it here. While it definitely was easy to guess what would happen next, I have to say I enjoyed Armada. Sometimes I like happy endings where the heroes save the day and everything works out. Definitely takes its queues from “The Last Starfighter” but that’s a good thing.

A Caribbean Mystery,  by Agatha Christie

When I was in high school, I used to devour Agatha Christie books. They were my staple, and I’d buy them by the stacks from the used book store near my house. With the new version of “Murder on the Orient Express” coming out, I thought I’d revisit some of her books, and make my way through them again. This one is a Miss Marple mystery and I think I honestly enjoyed her crime solving method more than Poirot. When I was younger, it was quite the opposite.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1), by Agatha Christie

I decided to start at the beginning for the Poirot mysteries, with his first appearance. Didn’t guess the ending, and really enjoyed the mystery. I think I’ll be adding more Christie books to my reading list.

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

Over the last couple of years, I read The Girl on a Train, and Gone Girl before that, so I figured I should check out the “it” mystery book that was making the rounds in Entertainment Weekly.  I found that I actually enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 much more than the other books to which it is compared. That is entirely because of the main character.  Where I didn’t really care for the two main female protagonists in the other two “Girl” books, I actually liked Lo Blacklock, the lead protagonist in this book.  The mystery unfolds differently than I expected and I found I really liked how things wrapped up. Definitely ends on a much less somber note than other books of its similar category.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

My son had to read this over the summer between 8th grade and entering High School, so he asked me to read it with him so we could discuss it. We had our own little book club going. Told as a parable, in rather simple anecdotes, I found I really loved it.  I loved the message. You can journey through life, and it you are open to your path, it will present itself to you. I found it to be spiritual and personal, and it definitely touched me.

 Loving Frank, Nancy Horan

I admit that I bought this book simply because I found the cover beautiful. I’ve had it for years, and just never got around to reading it. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of my favorite architects. You will find touches of his style incorporated in my own home, but I knew next to nothing about his personal life. This book, which recounts his relationship with a married woman, who leaves her family and children to be with him, surprised me. Told in a diary style and taking liberties with what might have happened, it focuses more on Mamah, the woman and their life together, than on Frank. I found I really didn’t like her very much.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2), Diana Gabaldon

I read the first Outlander book before watching the series on the Stars network and really liked it. When I learned that there were multiple books, and that the author invents new and sad ways to keep her two main characters apart, well, I was less than pleased. I read this one before watching season two of Outlander on Stars, and found that half way through I was hate reading it. I just wanted to get through it but really didn’t enjoy it at all.  It was long. It dragged, and I was tired of the Claire and Jamie in a constant state of depression.

The Force Awakens, Rey’s Story by Elizabeth Schaefer

This was a younger set adaptation of the events of The Force Awakens told from Rey’s point of view. Much as I do not like the new trilogy, I really love Rey. I read this one hoping to find new tidbits about her. There were none to be had, but it was a quick read.

The World According to Star Wars, by Cass Sunstein

I like to read stories about the behind the scenes stuff of Star Wars as well as the impact Star Wars has had on the world. I read this one to get a sense of the latter part. Honestly, the book was boring, and really didn’t give me any insights I haven’t already made over the last 40 years.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, by Michael Ausiello

This one, I read but was dreading. Not because I didn’t want to read it. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Ausiello since he wrote for TV Guide and did one of their entertainment podcasts. Since then, I’ve followed all of his entertainment reporting. It is in large part because of his enthusiasm, that I finally watched Gilmore Girls. But I dreaded reading this because I knew it was going to be sad. Having followed him,  I knew the story of his having lost his husband to cancer. The book was all I expected, but strangely, his honesty and humor painted a picture of the love he and his husband shared in a way that made me happy to have gotten to know them as I was sad to for his loss. Definitely not something I could read with my children with colorful language and adult content, but very touching.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Brighest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth, by Meredith Rusu

This is another book I bought because I thought the cover was really beautiful. I bought it before seeing the latest Pirates movie, but waited to read it until after. Definitely glad that I did because this one starts with the back story of Carina Smyth, and continues through the action of the movie.  The writing style was fine, and I’d recommend it for young women who enjoyed the movie.