2017 in Review

I know I’m not alone in finding 2017 a bewildering and stressful year. I’ve never followed the news so closely or been so troubled by it. I’ve also never been as politically active, giving both time and money. And what I’ve done was minuscule in comparison to what I saw so many others doing.

Through all this, books were my refuge. I jealously guarded my reading time, to the point that I ended this year having read 104 books, more than the last several years, when the total has been in the 80s and 90s. At the beginning of the year, I decided to just read by whim, which meant reading a lot more new books. Both the Tournament of Books and the Booker longlist brought some great books to my attention, and the conversation on Twitter, blogs, and among Book Riot contributors put many more new books on my radar.

Coming up with a list of top books for the year was a challenge, because so many of the books I finished were very good, excellent even. But I’ve settled on a baker’s dozen that were wonderful choices for me, either because they’ve haunted me ever since I finished them or because the experience of reading them was especially significant. (For example, reading Ali Smith’s Autumn during the weekend of violence in Charlottesville gave that book a resonance it might not have had at any other time.)

So here are my books of 2017. Click the links for my reviews:

And now I’m already regretting the omission of Home Fire, Between the World and Me, American Warand Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. An abundance of bookish riches, this year!

As for 2018, I do want to get back to reading more from my own shelves, which I neglected almost entirely this year. But I’m not going to force myself to read anything that isn’t appealing. So I won’t necessarily be reading by whim, but I will be reading for my pleasure in the moment. I’m just hoping to find most of that pleasure from the books in my house right now.

Happy new year to you all, and here’s hoping for a 2018 of peace, joy, and pleasure.

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19 Responses to 2017 in Review

  1. Great list! I’ve read five of these and they were excellent. Lincoln in the Bardo was on my Best Of List too. Best of luck with reading from your shelves next year!

    • Teresa says:

      Lincoln in the Bardo really surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Now that a few months have passed, the wow factor has worn off slightly, but I’m still tremendously impressed at how he pulled it off.

  2. writerrea says:

    Happy New Year to you too! Lincoln in the Bardo and Reservoir 13 also made my “best of 2017” list.

  3. Rohan Maitzen says:

    Happy New Year! As always, I’ve so enjoyed following your reading and writing year. I haven’t read a single one of the books on your list, but many of them are high on my TBR list for this year, partly because of what you’ve said about them. Here’s hoping for more of the good and less of the bad this year, and keep guarding your reading time too (as Churchill – maybe? – said, otherwise what are we fighting for?).

    • Teresa says:

      One of the things I told myself early in the year was that I needed to have what joy and rest I can get to motivate myself to fight for a better world. I’m not going to let the disastrous presidency take that joy away from me.

  4. Sunita says:

    I’m so glad you had a good reading year. It offsets the dumpster fire of the rest of the year a bit. It was lovely to read the Man Booker longlist along with you, and I’m looking forward to our overlaps this year (TOB here we come).

    Good luck settling in to the new job!

    • Teresa says:

      I’m so looking forward to seeing the TOB shortlist this Wednesday. (It would be the first day of my new job, so I won’t see it right away, but I probably will also not be as tempted to refresh the page all day waiting to see it!)

  5. Liz Mc2 says:

    Like you, I had a very good reading year partly in response to the awfulness of so much else in 2017. And a highlight was the great Booker list and discussing it with you and others.

    When I read your review of I, Tituba it sounded familiar from childhood reading, but it couldn’t have been because of the publication date (and seems unlikely in any case!). Google suggests I must be remembering Tituba of Salem Village by Ann Petry. I remember being riveted by that, so I should try the “grown-up” version.

    • Teresa says:

      The edition of I, Tituba that I read had an interview with Conde where she mentions Petry’s book positively, so perhaps there was some influence there.

  6. Isabella says:

    Nice list! I’ve only read Version Control (thanks to TOB) and loved it (and now I regret leaving it off my own list). Wishing you good reading in 2018!

    • Teresa says:

      The TOB is how I found Version Control, too! Such a great book. I read a book with similar themes that wasn’t anywhere near as good this week, and it reminded me of how great Palmer’s book was.

  7. Wonderful list! I also loved Homegoing, and The Mothers this year, and discovered Connie Willis. I think Autumn will be my first read of 2018, and I hope to read The Shuttle soon too. Happy 2018 reading!

  8. Laurie C says:

    Love finding other Connie Willis fans! Happy New Year!

  9. Happy new year, dear friend. I wish you the most wonderful of reading years in 2018, and I hope that can include some super amazing books from your own shelves. I’m planning to read ten of my own damn books this year at a minimum, and I think I will find it very cleansing.

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