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Hello my friends, it has been awhile! I took a break from blogging because my computer was not working properly and my brain was on overload. I have a new computer and my routine down, so hopefully you will be reading more from me in 2018.
This year I read a little over 30,000 pages and 98 books. I did not read many long books, although my longest book was 960 pages (Winter of the World by Ken Follett)! I love to look back on my year of reading and pick the books that stuck with me the most. This year that was HARD! Since I read so many books narrowing it down to my top ten favorites was painful. I managed to do it and today I will count down from 10 to 6. Check back tomorrow for the other half of my list.
As a reader setting is very important to me. I love to feel like I understand a place and its people a little better after reading a book. I was completely transported when reading this memoir about a nurse who goes to live and work on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Her stories of the people she met, cared for, and learned to love ranged from funny to heartbreaking. It was very similar to James Herriot’s work, which I love. The descriptions of her job and the traditional way of life for the people of the island were fascinating. I must admit, that after reading this I really wanted to move to Scotland and start gathering peat for my fireplace. I highly recommend the audiobook because Scottish names are hard and their accents are fun to listen to.
This is a fun, adventurous read for book lovers. The story follows a boy in Barcelona and his quest to discover more about the mysterious author of a book he found in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (cool right?). The search to unearth the secrets of the author become dangerous and there is suspense around every corner. My favorite part of this book was the characters. They were well written and for the most part, very likable and believable. The language is beautiful and I found myself rereading passages often, not because they were difficult, but because they were beautiful. I listened to this book on audio and loved it because hearing the Spanish accents and names pronounced correctly really helped me stay present in the story. This book is the first in a series and I will definitely keep reading.
I did not read as many classics as I wanted to in 2017, but finally got around to reading this Jane Austen book for the first time. While I found Emma, the character, to be rather frustrating at times I learned to really love her and see the growth in her character as a shining example of Austen’s talent with words. I think that watching someone grow up and mature can be frustrating when you are safely on the other side of young adulthood. Had I read this 10 years ago I have a sneaking suspicion I would have identified with Emma a lot more. The other characters in this book were delightful. I could not get enough of Mr. Woodhouse (so funny) and Mr. Knightley is downright swoon-worthy. Reader confession: I reread Pride and Prejudice this year too, and I think I like Emma more!
Through reading this story I have learned that I am a sucker for magical realism. Anything that seems like real life, but has a bit of magic or miracle mixed in is my up of tea (The Green Mile anyone?). This story is told from the point of view of an 11 year old boy, Reuben, whose family is searching for his brother after he becomes a 1960’s version of an old west outlaw. It is set in North Dakota during the winter and the cast of characters is fantastic. There is quite a bit of religious symbolism that adds depth to the characters and causes you to really think deeply about the story. But don’t worry, if you just want to read a good story and not be bogged down in the symbolism, this story is excellent without taking an intellectual deep dive while reading it. Plus the characters are so lovable, there is a story within the story, and the language had me highlighting for days.
I love narrative nonfiction. When an author can tell a story about something that happened in real life, but make it seem like the stuff of fiction, and keep me turning pages at a rapid rate, I am in my reading happy place. Larson does just that with this book as he weaves together the story of America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, and the Chicago’s World’s Fair. The bits about the serial killer are fascinating (I like serial killer books, lets not think about what that says about me) and disturbing on their own, but when juxtaposed with the hard work and magic of the World’s Fair and what that symbolizes about the American spirit of the time, it makes the charm and evil of Holmes more skin-crawling and despicable. I loved how Larson could make me completely creeped-out in one section, and utterly nostalgic and weepy for the Gilded Age of America in the next.
There you have it, the first half of my top ten reads of 2017. Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my top 5!
I love you more than miracles and maniacs,