I am counting down my favorite books of 2017. Today we are going from #5 to #1. To see #10 through #6 click here. This post contains affiliate links to all of the books mentioned.
I am a history junky. I love learning about the past but usually read books about war, or major events. Recently I have begun to enjoy biographies and hope to read more in 2018. I loved this book about Abigail Adams. It was funny, informative, and surprising. Much of the book was made up of letters Adams exchanged with her husband (John Adams), Thomas Jefferson, and her other friends and family. Through the letters and other biographical information it became evident that Adams was quite the woman. She started and kept a business going through the Revolutionary War and was a big contributing factor to why her husband was not in debt, as many other men of the age were, when he died. She had strong faith in God, was self-educated, and endured crippling loss with grace. I was very inspired by her story.
If you have been reading my blog for awhile you will know I am a Little House in the Big Woods fan, and the setting of this book reminded me a bit of my Laura Ingalls Wilder fave. The Snow Child is set in Alaska in the 1920s. The main characters Mabel and Jacob have left their family and the tragic loss of their child behind them to move to the last frontier to farm. The winters are tough and the growing season is just long enough to get what you need to done with no room for error. They grow lonely and further away from each other while trying to make their farm flourish. Then one night they build a little snow girl, complete with mittens and a hat, in their yard. The next day it has been wrecked and they see something running through the trees that looks like it might be wearing their hat and mittens. This is a story of new beginnings and allowing happiness to take root in your life, even in uncertain times.
I don’t know if this classifies as magical realism (I mean magic could be real right?) or just plain fantasy, but I loved it. The backbone of the story is a competition between two young magicians that has spilled into their lives by way of an old feud. The real magic begins to happen when the circus comes to town. The circus only happens at night and it is full of wonders that would seem impossible in the light of day. As the story progresses you begin to see how the dual and the circus are connected. The odd, but wonderful, cast of characters makes this a delightful read. I listened to this book on audio because my favorite audiobook narrator, Jim Dale of Harry Potter audiobook fame, reads this one. He does not disappoint and as the suspense builds, and the fate of your favorite characters lies in the balance, you might find yourself sitting in the car listening to just one more chapter before you step back into the real world.
This is one of those books that is about nothing and everything at the same time. It follows the lives of two couples who become close friends when they meet during The Great Depression. This is definitely a character driven novel; the excitement is in the gorgeous writing and exquisite relationships Stegner has woven together. He is able to take you to all of the places the characters spend time together; from Wisconsin, to Vermont, and a trip to Italy, you feel like you have gone with them. Stegner deftly explores love and friendship. As the reader, I developed strong opinions on each of the main characters, almost as if I had known them for decades. If you love a good quote get your highlighter out when reading this book. There are so many gorgeous turns of phrase and poignant observations that your book will become well marked.
Since I read 98 books this year it is probably obvious that I am a voracious reader. I would not say I am a fast reader, but I get through books quickly. This book was so good it slowed me down. In fact, I reread so much of it I would say I got close to reading it twice. The words and feeling of nostalgia were worth savoring. I cried when reading the introduction. Never have I read a book that so strongly made me remember the last days of childhood; the moments spent dreaming of being older with innocence and childlike curiosity still driving you. I cannot even describe what I mean, but I felt it when reading Bradbury’s words. This was my first book by him (weird, right?) and it will not be my last. If he can make me feel even a quarter of what this book made me feel then it will be worth it.While many of the books on my top 10 list make great winter reads Dandelion Wine is summer in a book. Read it. Please.
2017 was a wonderful reading year for me and I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings. What was your favorite book of 2017? What are you looking forward to reading in 2018? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
I love you more than reading fast and feelings of the past,