Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, I’m showing you my top ten favorite books of 2017. I realize I was supposed to post this weeks ago, but I’m busy and confused, so we’re doing it today. I even organized it backwards like a proper countdown. Not all of the books on this list were published in 2017, but I read them all for the first time this year. Click the title to see a synopsis/review.

Best Books I Read In 2017

A lot of people don’t seem to realize that the world is in the middle of a massive refugee crisis right now. This tiny book shows how the crisis is impacting Lampedusa, an island located between Tunisia and Italy. The Optician of Lampedusa is based on a true story. It’s both devastating and educational. (As all the best books are.) It helped spark my interest in the refugee crisis and made me want to learn more.

“I thought I'd heard seagulls screeching. Seagulls fighting over a lucky catch. Birds. Just birds.” - The Optician of Lampedusa

This memoir made the list for nostalgic reasons. I loathed reading as a kid, but I could sometimes be tempted with a Gary Paulsen book. I loved the Brian series, Winterdance, and My Life in Dog Years. I read them many times. Guts tells the (sometimes hilarious) real-life stories behind Gary Paulsen’s novels.

“We have grown away from knowledge, away from knowing what something is really like, toward knowing only what somebody else says it is like. There seems to be a desire to ignore the truth in favor of drama.” – Guts

This is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read. I know nothing about art, so I’m not sure how to explain why I like it. I guess I like the “feel” of it? It feels primitive and otherworldly, like anything could happen in this story. As soon as I finished it, I opened it again to look at it for a second time.

“Lesson: Men are false. And they can get away with it. Also, don't murder your sister, even by accident. Sisters are important.” - The One Hundred Nights of Hero

I love survival stories, and Shackleton’s Antarctic voyage has to be one of the greatest survival stories of all time. This nonfiction book reads like an adventure novel. It’s an older book, so the author was able to interview Shackleton’s crew. Endurance is better-written and closer to first-hand than the other Antarctic survival books I’ve read.

"Though they had failed dismally even to come close to the expedition's original objective, they knew now that somehow they had done much, much more than ever they set out to do." - Endurance

Setting is massively important to me as a reader. If I can’t picture the setting, I’ll struggle to get into the book. Months after finishing Snow Falling on Cedars, I can still vividly remember the Pacific Northwest setting. This literary murder mystery is set right after WWII, which isn’t a time period I see often in literature. Instead of focusing on the war, it focuses on how the war changed American society.

"The world was one world, and the notion that a man might kill another over some small patch of it did not make sense." – Snow Falling on Cedars

Confession: I didn’t plan on reading this book. When I stumbled across it in the grocery store, I thought it sounded fluffy. I don’t do fluffy. Still, something about it called to me. (Probably the large dog on the cover, let’s be honest.) I’m glad I read it because I ended up loving it. It’s funny, and clever, and deep, and complicated. As soon as I finished it, I bought two more Fredrik Backman books.

“Never mess with someone who has more spare time than you do.” - My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

I love it when an author can make horrible people interesting. The characters in this massive literary novel are all horrible people, but they’re horrible in ways that kept me turning pages. I wanted to know what they’d do next. This novel is a glimpse into a lifestyle I’ll never have (or want). If you’re rich and well-connected, you can get away with anything. Even murder.

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” – The Secret History

Have you ever come across an author who “gets” you? Marcus Sedgwick is that author for me. His books are bizarre in ways that resonate with me. It’s like we operate on the same wavelength or something. This collection of novellas has cavewomen, spacemen, witches, obsession, death, and weirdness. All the “Me” things.

"It is our minds that give things meaning. It is our minds that create the world for us. And minds can be mistaken. Minds can become confused. Damaged. What then of the world? How does it appear then? It, too, appears confused and damaged." – The Ghosts of Heaven

The kids in this young adult novel are basically me when I was a teenager. They’re creative, quirky, and don’t really fit in anywhere. They’re growing up in a small town that doesn’t share their values. This book is pretty much the story of my high school years. (Well, I didn't have all the death and devastation. I was a sheltered child.)

“If you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.” – The Serpent King

If you’ve been on this blog before, you’re not surprised to see Most Dangerous here. I was so invested in this story that I stayed up all night to finish it. It’s another nonfiction book that reads like a novel, and it should be required reading for all Americans. It’s about the ethics of document-leaking and the lies our government tells us. (I promise it’s not boring.)

 “They were willing to send men and women to death to avoid being called losers.” - Most Dangerous 

Honorable Mentions

These books should be on my list because I loved them, but this is Top Ten Tuesday, not Top Million Tuesday, so they’ll have to be relegated to honorable mentions. Sorry, books. It’s nothing personal.

Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Children’s nonfiction)
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin (Fantasy)
Dreamland Burning – Jennifer Latham (Young adult historical/contemporary fiction)
Revolver – Marcus Sedgwick (Young adult historical fiction)
All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld (Literary fiction)
The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber (Literary fiction)
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson (Nonfiction)
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit – Michael Finkel (Nonfiction)
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm – Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm (Children’s fiction)

Thank you to everybody who recommended these books to me!

What’s the best book you read in 2017?


  1. I haven't read any of these yet but The One Hundred Nights of Hero is on my TBR so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!

  2. Love this list because it has two I want to read (Secret History, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and The Serpent King) and one that made my list - Most Dangerous. I have you to thank for that one!

  3. Dreamland Burning is one I want to get to soon. Endurance sounds like a really fascinating book!

  4. I've read one of Backman's books this year (A Deal of a Lifetime) and I've really enjoyed it! I hope you read more good books in 2018!

    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  5. Great list and it reminds me that I have three of Backman's books on my TBR right now and really need to make time to read them.

  6. I had such mixed feelings about The Serpent King. I adored Dill and Travis but Lydia truly grated on me. I resented her for what I felt was her utter oblivion to her friend's situations. I wanted a huge reality check for the girl. On the other hand, the book contained one of the most heartbreaking and memorable scenes I have ever read and it has stuck with me ever since.
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

  7. Secret History and the Shackleton book are two I'd like to read.

  8. I have The Serpent King waiting on my shelf for me. I really need to get to it!

  9. I haven't read any of these but I like the quotes especially 'the hundred one nights of hero' & the serpent king.

    I did read #5 - that is a fun book & love it. you know that this book is translated from the swedish, right? I sort of wonder about translated books and if the translator translate the feel and style of the original author but in this case, I think it probably did. my copy is in the other title 'my grandmother sends her regards & apologies' which is the title I like better.

    I don't think I've read much non-fiction lately so I haven't really heard of most of the titles on your list.

    have a lovely day.

  10. The large dog would have called to me as well so I can totally understand. People seem to rave about that author. I'm kind of afraid to read The Serpent King even though it interests me because...snakes. Great list!

  11. Oooh great picks!! I really must read some of these next year- absolutely Ghosts of Heaven since I own it (I actually traded for it almost THREE years ago, how bad is that?) and Most Dangerous since you loved it so much and find it so important. Also super excited to see The Serpent King on here, SUCH a favorite of mine!

  12. Why am I not surprised that I haven't read any of these? Endurance is going on my TBR right now though! Great list :D

  13. There are so many books on this list I either already wanted to read but now REALLY want to read or am adding to my TBR! I love the Frederik Backman quote. I hadn't heard of the Marcus Sedgwick book but it's one I definitely need to add to my TBR immediately. And I've had my eye on The Hundred Nights of Hero for a while now! Absolutely fantastic list, and it looks like you've had a great reading year!

  14. I have only read one Fredrik Backman book (Britt-Marie), but I loved it, and should really read more. Just the thought of TSK brings tears to my eyes. It is such a wonderful book.

  15. Great list! You know me, I loved the Fredrick Bakman one that you mentioned and I also really enjoyed A Game of Thrones when I read it even though it wasn't this year. I couldn't enjoy A Secret History myself, but I'm glad you could.

  16. The Serpent King is one that I absolutely must read. And you know that I loved Dreamland Burning! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  17. My favourite book of 2017 was "A Monster Calls". I`ve been meaning to read "The Secret History" for quite a while now, and seeing it on your list makes me want to pick it up even more.

    Carmen`s Reading Corner

  18. I haven't read any of these and the only one I've heard of is My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. I've been tempted to get it for a while now and the fact that it's one of your 2017 favorites because I've actually never seen it around the blog-o-sphere. My favorite book of the year is Uprooted By Naomi Novik. I've actually just purchased more of her books because I loved her writing style and I can't wait to dive into them! Hope you're having a wonderful week!

    Elena @ Book Lady's Reviews

    1. I've got Uprooted sitting on my Kindle awaiting reading! Must get to it soon

  19. I haven't read any of your Top Ten so it's great to have them to look out for. The Shackleton one appeals as it was such a tragic expedition.
    My favourite this year was Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, but I'd read it before and it's probably my favourite book ever! I've got my Best Books of 2017 post coming soon :-)

    Stephanie Jane @ Literary Flits

  20. I have almost all of these books and have read exactly none of them. I picked up a couple of them after reading your reviews :) Hopefully, I can fit some in in 2018.

  21. Great list! I read another book by Bakman this year (A Man Called Ove), and felt the same way about it. I feel like I'm probably going to like every book of his that I read.

  22. It looks like you've read some great and varied books this year :) I've read zero on your list but there's a couple that definitely look interesting that I might have to check out!

  23. Yes to Endurance and Game of Thrones! And here's to a great reading year ahead!

  24. I really want to read The Secret History. I don't know if it will be my kind of book because I don't often read books with these sort of rich and manipulative characters in it, but I'm very interested to see what it's like. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, and I'm hoping my library has a copy because I've heard fantastic things. Lovely list! I hope you read even more excellent books in 2018!

  25. I always like seeing people's best books posts. It's so fun to hear which books you loved and why. I haven't read any of these, but it does sound like you really enjoyed them. And it's great when you can find an author that just seems to get you.

  26. I haven't read any of these. I do own a copy of The Stranger in the Woods that I plan to read at some point. It is nice to see it made your honorable mentions. Thanks for sharing all these recommendations!

  27. Aaaaah The Secret History has been a favourite ever since I first read it (...at my Latin teacher's instigation. Do you think he had aspirations for his tiny class of scholars? Ah well, he must have been disappointed in us - no bacchanals or murders for us!) - glad you enjoyed it :)

  28. I've heard so many good things about Backman - one of these days! :)

    Lauren @ Always Me

  29. OMG THE SERPENT KING IS AMAZING AND TOTALLY DEVASTATING AND BEAUTIFUL. <3 I read it last year and ajfdksad it was one of my all time favs. *cries a little* Also I really like Game of Thrones even though it's a bit hard to get through haha. I'm glad you had so many great reads this year!!

  30. I love this list! It's 100% made up of books I love and books I really want to read. Our tastes are not exactly the same--I think we both like some kinds of books the other doesn't--but we do overlap a lot. I've gotta read more Sedgewick, and I'm going to publicly commit right here to reading The Optician of Lampedusa and Endurance in 2018.

  31. I am really curious to read The Secret History :) haven't bought that one yet though.

  32. I loved The Secret History and Snow Falling on Cedars. Lately I've been considering a reread The Secret History. Endurance has been on my wish list for so long... maybe 2018 will be the year I finally read it. Great list!

  33. Oh I haven't read any of these but I've heard great things about some of them, like The Serpent King. May 2018 bring you more great books. Happy New Year!

  34. I have Endurance on audio. I'm definitely putting it on my TBR for this year! I'm not familiar with any of the other ones on your list, and I've seen Paulsen's books but never read them. My daughter probably even has some on her bookshelf!

    My TTT list is here: