Books I read in 2017

When I started the 2017 Reading Challenge, I decided to keep track of all the books I read, not just the ones for the Reading Challenge. In 2017, I have read 116 books. Most were fiction, though about twenty were non-fiction (mostly about science, history, the Christian faith, and current issues). Twenty are historical fiction, several are science fiction/fantasy (it’s hard to decide in some cases – does the presence of a ghost make it fantasy? does the prevalence of androids make it science fiction if the science is never discussed?), and  twenty-five are mysteries.

I had never quite finished the 2016 Reading Challenge because there were a few categories I had trouble with. So I started earlier this year working at fitting specific categories that I wasn’t as likely to read in the normal course of things. Most categories I did find were very easy, and in several cases I read a book just because it was interesting and then discovered it fit a category I had been wondering how I would find an example of (such as a book with an unreliable narrator and a book by an author who uses a pseudonym).

A few were challenging, like a book with career advice and a book from a genre/subgenre I’d never heard of before. Some books I chose to fit a certain category turned out to be somewhat disappointing – but then, so do some books I pick just because they look interesting but turn out to be less so. And some books turned out to be gems, that I probably would not have read otherwise but am very glad I did.

Here is the list (selecting only one book for each requirement in the challenge, though in several cases there were others that fit, some from this list and others not mentioned):

A book recommended by a librarian: The Best Man by Richard Peck (a fun, easy read)

A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long:  Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (I didn’t find it as funny as some people do)

A book of letters:  The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (moderately interesting but I’m glad it didn’t take too long to read)

An audiobook:  Faithful by Alice Hoffman (I listen to a lot of audiobooks, this simply was the first one in 2017)

A book by a person of color:  Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (it’s also been made into a movie, but I’m glad I read the book, which was not fictionalized as the movie was)

A book with one of the four seasons in the title:  An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell (I read several of Mankell’s books and enjoyed all of them)

A book that is a story within a story:  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (there was less of the “story within the story” than I had expected, but it was an interesting novel in terms of the subject matter)

A book with multiple authors:  The Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig (I also read at least one non-fiction book by multiple authors, but this was unusual in that it is a novel by multiple authors)

An espionage thriller:  The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins (moderately interesting/entertaining, but at the end I couldn’t help asking myself, so what was the point?)

A book with a cat on the cover:  Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley (the latest book in one of my favorite series in recent years)

A book by an author who uses a pseudonym: The Traveler and  The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks (interesting speculation on where a society that depends so much on computers could end up)

A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read:  The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (read it for book club, but chick lit is not the sort of book that appeals much to me)

A book by or about a person who has a disability:  The Boys in the Bunkhouse by Dan Barry (fascinating in part because it took place not all that far from where I live)

A book involving travel:  A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (I read it because I had heard that it had influenced C. S. Lewis’s The Space Trilogy, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed Lewis’s books)

A book with a subtitle: Zapped: From Infrared to X-rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light by Bob Berman (if you don’t know what “invisible light” means, check out Berman’s book – he makes science easy to understand and fun to read)

A book that’s published in 2017:  The Widow’s Curse by Nancy Atherton (another latest book in another of my favorite series in recent years)

A book involving a mythical creature:  The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (I actually selected the book because it had been suggested as an example of steampunk, but after reading it decided it fit this category better)

A book you’re read before that never fails to make you smile:  The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 ¾ by Adian Plass (I read it while home with a bad cold, and I’m not sure how much I smiled this time but that’s mostly because I felt so lousy)

A book about food:  Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (a book I would never have picked for myself, but the library was closed due to water damage and I borrowed it from a friend, and enjoyed it a great deal)

A book with career advice:  Career Match by Shoya Zichy (I read mostly to fill this category but also hoping for insight to help my son figure out what kind of jobs would be a good fit for him)

A book from a nonhuman perspective:  A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn (I haven’t read all the books in this series but I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read)

A steampunk novel:  Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (the first book of a trilogy providing a fascinating alternate history of World War I – in an alternate universe where the British Darwinists use fabricated animals for weaponry and the Austro-Hungarians and Germans have steam-driven iron machines)

A book with a red spine:  The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood (a touching story I might have missed if it hadn’t had a red cover)

A book set in the wilderness:  To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (recounting a 19th century exploration of uncharted wilderness in Alaska, it also would fit under “a book of letters”)

A book you loved as a child:  Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman (one of my favorite adventure stories as a child)

A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited:  The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell (the first book I read by this Swedish crime writer)

A book with a title that’s a character’s name:  Doc by Mary Doria Russell (Doc Holliday as a tragic hero)

A novel set during wartime:  A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (there were several in this category but any book by Mary Doria Russell is likely to be my choice in that category)

A book with an unreliable narrator:  The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson (not sure I like the way Sanderson finished this series, but I always enjoy his writing)

A book with pictures:  Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesne (a book that proves you don’t need words to tell a good story)

A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:  Geisha: a life by Mineko Iwasaki (the book I read after Memoirs of a Geisha to find out what a geisha’s life was really like)

A book about an interesting woman:  A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (not the most interesting book, but definitely about an interesting woman)

A book set in two different time periods:  The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (can you tell I like Mankell’s novels?)

A book with a month or day of the week in the title:  The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt  (another book I would not have read except for this reading challenge but that I enjoyed thoroughly)

A book set in a hotel:  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (a book that makes you realize that a limited setting need not limit one’s life)

A book written by someone you admire:  Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (my son and I both found the movie Temple Grandin to be inspiring and I wanted to read something she had written herself)

A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017:  Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent (a fascinating story of the unlikely friendship that developed between two men from very different backgrounds)

A book set around a holiday other than Christmas:  Still Life by Louise Penny (I had read one other book by Penny and this one convinced me I wanted to read more)

The first book in a series you haven’t read before: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend (I might read more in the series sometime, but it won’t be one of my favorite series)

A book you bought on a trip:  A Journey to Victorious Praying by Bill Thrasher (technically my husband purchased it but we were there together)

A book recommended by an author you love: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (the sequel to Leviathan, which I had selected because it was recommended by Rick Riordan)

A bestseller from 2016:  The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer (reviews claimed it was too predictable, but I found it suspenseful enough to get on my exercise book so I could listen to it some more while I rode)

A book with a family-member term in the title:  Daughter of Time by Sarah Woodbury (a time travel romance, which I enjoyed because it is set in the Middle Ages in Wales – I was even able to recognize a few words of Welsh from learning it using Duolingo)

A book that takes place over a character’s life span:  Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (one of two novels I read this year inspired by Alice in Wonderland)

A book about an immigrant or refugee:  The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant (no matter what you think of illegal immigration, you can’t help but root for the narrator to survive his ordeal)

A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of:  Territory by Emma Bull (an interesting example of Weird West, which combines elements of the Western with some other genre, in this case fantasy)

A book with an eccentric character:  Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (there’s definitely more than one eccentric character in this book)

A book that’s more than 800 pages:  An Echo in the Bone by Diane Gabaldon (I loved the early books of this series but haven’t kept up, largely because of the length of the books; the week off between Christmas and New Year gave me a chance to read one more)

A book you got from a used book sale:  The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry (I had listened to some of Berry’s other books on CD, and figured for a quarter it had to be worth buying to read sometime)

A book that’s been mentioned in another book:  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (perhaps it would have helped if I had read it before After Alice and Alice I Have Been, but I found that after all it was very familiar, although I had not read it in years)

A book about a difficult topic:  The Ethics of Abortion edited by Robert Baird and Stuart Rosenbaum (an attempt to provide views from both sides of the controversy on what is indeed a difficult topic)

A book based on mythology:  The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (with any book by Riordan, the question is who in our family gets to read it first)

3 Responses to Books I read in 2017

  1. Kizzie says:

    My daughter Chrissy enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I read and enjoyed a few, but didn’t keep up with them.

    Are The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 ¾ and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ connected? You listed different authors for them, but they sound like they must be connected.

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