Time continues to fly by, and somehow we are at the end of another year. 2017 was a year full of books at our house. I’ve always considered myself a reader. I have participated in book clubs and recommended books to friends and family, but starting Bookity Split in May has given my reading more of a defined purpose. I am now connected with book bloggers and authors on social media and suddenly have many more great books to read at my fingertips. My to-be-read list grows daily, which is a good thing. I love reading and recommending books to others, and the more I read, the more I can recommend.
My mom talks about how she wishes she kept a list of all the books she read aloud to me when I was a child. She never did, but probably looking through the pages of our first copy of The Read Aloud Handbook would bring back memories of the titles of many of those books. (She said just the other day that she used to go through the aisles of the public libraries in town looking for a book we hadn’t read yet! I knew we read a ton, but I didn’t realize that it actually got difficult for her to find new books to read aloud!) Knowing she didn’t keep a list of read-alouds, I really should have started one when my boys were little. But life was crazy, and other than summer reading lists, I didn’t keep a record of the many, many books we have read aloud over the years.
Do you keep track of what you read?
Do you like to keep a record of your reading life? I have read about people who use journals, spreadsheets, GoogleDrive, Goodreads and a variety of other methods to track their reading. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but keeping notes on what you read can help you remember the title of a great book to tell a friend, and help you reflect back on fond memories of stories you shared with your little ones.
In the fall of 2010, when I first discovered it, I began to add books that I had read to a Goodreads account. I went back and added every book I could remember reading in the past. (I’m sure I missed many of them.) I’ve kept up with it over the years, more at some times than others. Now, I really try to keep my list of read and to-be-read books current, updating my account frequently.
I don’t usually set a goal on Goodreads of how many books I want to read each year. The number of books I read isn’t really important to me. It’s more important to me to read widely and enjoy what I’m reading. But I do like looking back at my year of reading each December and reflecting on the books I’ve read and my favorites for the year.
Year in Review
So this week, when I looked back at all that I had read in 2017, I was surprised to discover I had read almost 90 books this year! Some were picture books, others middle grade fiction, some young adult fiction, several non-fiction “mom reads,” some book club picks, and other books that I just wanted to read. I read some amazing books this year! When I looked back on the year, I decided to pick my favorites from the picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult books I read to share with you. So in order by recommended reading age (because it is just too hard to compare and choose favorites), here are my Top 10 favorite books I read in 2017.
The Top 10 Books I Read in 2017
1. The Book of Gold, by Bob Staake
Maybe it is just the librarian in me, but I LOVED this book. A sweet little boy doesn’t enjoy reading as much as his parents, but through the quest for a special book he learns to experience the joy of books. Picture book, 40 pages, ages 4+.
2. Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers
This book is so much more than a book about The Statue of Liberty. With witty text, clever illustrations, and a page-turning pace, this book seems shorter than 104 pages. It includes facts about The Statue of Liberty, history and modern day immigration, and all about the people who make up the United States in an easily approachable, kid-friendly way. Picture book, 104 pages, ages 6+.
3. Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar does not disappoint with his newest middle grade novel. This book is not only a suspenseful mystery, it demonstrates to readers just how quickly a bacteria can spread. I loved the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, showing how 1 becomes 2, 2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8,… This one kept me turning the pages, and I enjoyed the ride. Middle grade novel, 208 pages, ages 10+.
4. The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I read both of these this year, and loved the sequel just as much as the first one! The War that Saved My Life is the first book, and tells the story of a girl and her younger brother in England during WWII. The girl has a club foot, which has led to both physical and emotional abuse by her mother, and the war is the impetus for helping her out of a very difficult situation. The War I Finally Won continues the story. I love how books play a role in both stories. Middle grade novels, TWTSML: 352 pages, TWIFW: 400 pages, ages 10+.
5. Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk
Another book set during WWII, Wolf Hollow is a beautifully written story about a girl growing up in a small town and the struggles she faces when a new girl moves into her community. I was completely absorbed by the story, and didn’t want it to end. The themes of bullying and truth telling from this book have stuck with me in the months since I have read it. Middle grade novel, 304 pages, ages 10+
6. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz
Another historical fiction book, this time set during the middle ages. I would not normally choose to read a book set in this time period, but it was highly recommended to me, and now that I’ve finished, I can see why! I listened to this book as an audiobook, and thoroughly enjoyed the humor woven into the deep message of love and acceptance for all. Note: Several kids I know who have read it have told me they did not enjoy it because it was confusing, possibly due to the numerous narrators. I think it would be best listened to as an audiobook or as a read-aloud for most 10-13 year olds, with lots of discussion mixed in. Middle grade novel, 384 pages, ages 10+.
7. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
I read this book for an online book club discussion, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it and how much it made me think. The book tells the story of a teenaged girl who is riding home in a car with a childhood friend. The friend is pulled over and although he cooperates, he is shot and killed by a police officer while she is in the car. We then follow the girl’s life in the aftermath of this tragedy. Powerful themes of self-identity, truth-telling, and racism emanate from this book. It is controversial, but in my opinion, that is just all the more reason to read it and talk about it. Young adult novel, 464 pages, ages 14+
8. The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty
Set over several decades in the early to mid 20th century, The Chaperone is a powerful novel about the choices we make in life. The main character accompanies a teenaged girl from their Kansas town to New York City as her chaperone when the girl joins a dance company. This girl later goes on to become a dance and movie star, but the woman who is the chaperone has a transformative experience in New York City as well. I read it for book club this year, and we had a great discussion about it. What struck me most about this book was the portrayal of the role of women during these years. It really wasn’t that long ago, and yet so much has changed in our society in the freedoms we as women now take for granted. Adult novel, 416 pages.
9. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale is yet another historical fiction pick, can you sense a theme? (I love good historical fiction.) This book had been on my list for a long time, but I was waiting to read it with book club. When we finally read it this year, I was not disappointed. Set in France during WWII, this story is heart-wrenching, but so worth it. I truly enjoyed every page, and the unbelievable courage the characters displayed throughout the book. This is a powerful story. Adult novel, 440 pages.
10. A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel, by Amor Towles
I kept hearing glowing recommendations about A Gentleman in Moscow this year, but I was hesitant to read it since I tend to not love books set in Russia. When I finally read it in November, I loved it. I have to say that it was the best written book I have read in a long time, possibly ever. It took me a long time to read this book. I blame that on the fact that I frequently reread passages because they were just so beautifully written I wanted to read them over again. The premise is that a man is put under house arrest in Moscow, and since he lives in a hotel his “house” is that hotel. Without giving too much away, he is able to make wonderful friends and create a fulfilling life during his time there. As a reader, you will end up falling in love with both the characters and the story. Adult novel, 480 pages.
If you haven’t already read any of these, I HIGHLY recommend all of them. Please add any you haven’t read to your to-be-read list today!
Next up for 2018, I am looking forward to reading more great books! Specifically, I want to read the adult novels Before We Were Yours and Lilac Girls. I’d like to try the middle grade novels Wishtree, Beyond the Bright Sea, and Treasure Hunters: Quest for the City of Gold . And I’ve heard that the picture books The Antlered Ship and After the Fall are amazing. With over 300 books on my tbr, I’m sure I’ll end up reading more than these, but it is a starting point, right?
Well, my tea kettle is whistling. I’m wrapped in a shawl and still freezing, so I’m going to go drink some hot tea and try to stay warm on this frigid day!
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!