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Who loves to read books?
Whose idea of the perfect night is a warm blanket curled up in a comfy chair with a good book?
Give me a book and some quiet time any day.
I have loved to read books ever since I learned how to read – 32 years ago.
Wow, I’ve been reading books for 32 years. I think that is something I am an expert at!
I remember begging my parents to let me stay up just a little bit longer to read a book. Then I’d hide under the covers with a flashlight to finish. Of course, now I know that my parents were onto me and could see the flashlight lighting up a book, but they pretended not to see.
I am forever grateful for the love of reading that my parents have instilled in me from an early age.
My parents read to me, and I saw my parents read. It was normal to see my mom lost in a good book.
This past year for the first time I set a reading challenge. Goodreads has a spot where you can set what your reading goal is for the year and then it tracks the total number as you mark them read.
I decided to set my goal at 52 books, one for each week. In February when I set the goal I didn’t know if it was realistic, but I figured I would try. I reached my goal in October.
Did this mean I stopped reading?
Of course not, because I LOVE to read.
By the end of 2017 I had read 64 books.
I read all sorts of genres in all sorts of formats. However, I tend to read more mystery and literary fiction than any other genre though. I read on my Kindle app (not my favorite way to consume books), I listened to books while I drove and worked out, and I read actual books with a spine (still my favorite way to read).
Random fact: Did you know that reading and listening to a book activates the same part of your brain? To your brain there isn’t a difference.
Of the 64 books that I read this year, I only paid for two of them, and both were books that I knew I wanted on hand for reference later on. Two of the books I read, were gifted to Cassidy or me and all the rest were borrowed from the library.
As my sister says,
“did you know there is this place you can go and get a book, read it and then return it without spending any money?”
Why yes, yes I did.
I LOVE the library because I can get almost any book I want for free and it doesn’t clutter up my house. Sometimes I have to wait awhile for a popular or newly released book, but again did I mention the key word – FREE.
Free and no clutter, my two favorite things.
I saved at least $600 by using the library instead of buying books.
There are times, very rarely, that I want to own a book. If that is the case, I will put it on my birthday or Christmas list or buy it for myself.
I want to pass along the top books I read in 2017. This does not mean they were published in 2017; it just means I read them this past year
Megan’s Top Books of 2017
Beartown by Fredrik Backman and You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
I wanted to have a top 10, but someone came up with 10 ½ . This is where the 1/2 book comes in. It’s actually two books, but honestly, they are so similar I couldn’t justify separating them. Both involve towns rallying around a sport and its elite young players. In Beartown, it is ice hockey and in You Will Know Me it is gymnastics. In both books, there is an event that threatens to destroy the image of the athletes and will forever change the town and community.
I do not recommend one over the other, but advise that you don’t read them back to back. I read them several months apart and could appreciate them both without comparing too much. Both books are quick reads. I will caution you that there is a point in each book that you will have a hard time putting the books down.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
This particular book I listened to the audio version of which I recommend. McKeown is informative and inspiring in his book about essentialism. He motivated me to focus on what’s important and forget the “fluff” stuff. It’s a great listen/read for anyone interested in simplifying their life whether it be work or home.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
This is a book that I could not stop talking about once I read it. When a book makes my list it is usually because I simply enjoyed the book a lot, it made me think or inspired me somehow. That is still true of this book, but I also am amazed at how well written the story is. Clare wove a story that made me cry and sit in shock. In fact, at one crucial point in the book I stopped and started rereading earlier portions of the book to see what I missed. Caution, if you hit this crucial point in the book late at night, it will interfere with your sleep. I speak from experience.
The premise of the story is about a mom who is walking home from school with her son, and her son gets hits by a car. The story will make you cry all the while keeping you completely enthralled. Be prepared not to put this book down once you hit the midpoint.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
While this is not a young adult book it could easily have been categorized that way as well. The majority of the characters are in high school, and it involves their interactions. The book opens with a family sitting outside their house that is burning to the ground. There are definite plot twists that make you wonder what is real and how the author will bring it back around to where it began.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo was an on-screen star who happened to have been married seven times. This fictional story walks you through her life with the aid of a young journalist who has been asked to tell her story. The question all of America wants to know: which husband was Evelyn’s one true love. The answer will shock you. Reid shares a love story like no other, while also delving into the many aspects of marriage and why and how some marriages work and others don’t.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I have to first start by saying that I am NOT Jodi Picoult’s biggest fan. I have read many of her books, but I find that they can be exhausting. Often the main mom character is painted in a bad light and many of her books have no redeeming characters in them. As a reader, I struggle with books where I can’t find at least one character I can either relate to or like.
This is not the case with Small Great Things. I resisted reading this book for a long time because I wasn’t sold on Jodi Picoult, but after having it recommended over and over again, I decided it was time to give it a try. I listened to the book this past summer, and it took some time to finish. It is a heavy book on a heavy topic. I will admit it took me longer to finish the book because I had to take a break. The topic – race relations – was hitting too close to home and the book was making me angrier. I knew that due to what was happening in the news with our President’s response to race issues in North Carolina, I needed something lighter to read. It was one way I controlled my exposure to media (Link). Once I knew I could handle the topic again, I finished the book, and I am so glad I did.
Please be aware it may anger you, and you may need to read it slowly to control your anger. Honestly, though a sign of a good book is one that can make you feel strong feelings – one way or another.
Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls by Lauren Graham
This is light, fun, easy read. I chose to listen to this book because the audio is read by Lauren Graham herself. I thoroughly enjoyed having Lauren talk to me through my earbuds. It felt like we were friends just hanging out. If you were/are a Gilmore Girls fan, this is an absolute must-read. Though honestly, I recommend listening rather than reading this one.
If you are in need of something fun and simple, this is a perfect choice. You don’t have to be a Gilmore Girls Fan, but I’m not sure you’d appreciate it as much if you aren’t.
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
This book just made me think A Lot. Whether you agree with the parent’s approach to handling their young son’s desire to dress like a girl or not, it makes you take pause. Frankel takes us through how a family keeps a very big secret and the extent parents will go to protect and support their child.
If you are looking for a book that will generate a lot of discussion at your next book club, this book will do it. Caution it is a controversial topic and may lead to heated discussions.
When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker
I enjoyed the premise of this book – a widow receives letters from his deceased wife after she has died. The story takes us through his grief as he tries to hold it together to raise their children alone. There is also a mystery to the book. The ultimate questions are who are these letters from and how are they being delivered to his house?
It’s a good tear jerker. If you are a wife and mom, there is no way you can read this book without crying – multiple times. Who doesn’t like a good, cleansing cry once and a while? As a sentimental person, I appreciated the letters that the wife sends. Different, but in the same vein as my birthday letters of love to my daughters.
If you have recently lost someone close to you, this would not be the best book to read right now. It will hit too close to home.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
It’s hard to believe this book was published in 2012. I guess it just got a lot of hype this year because the movie was released. I had it recommended to me in the summer. Cassidy and I started reading it this fall together. It was a great book for us to read together. However, you don’t have to have kids to read or like this book. It is a quick read, and it will make you think. Choose kindness!
Wonder provides so many great talking points with children and adults, which is probably why so many teachers read it aloud to their classes. I cannot say enough good things about this book. While the movie was great, I still recommend reading the book first. Random fact, did you know that it was made into a movie because Julia Roberts read the book with her children and called her agent to say it needed to be made into a movie and she wanted to play the mom?
Once you have read Wonder, be sure to check out the companion book, Auggie and Me. It is not a sequel; rather it chronicles a different perspective on the story from three different characters viewpoints: Julian the bully, Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend and Charlotte, Auggie’s new classmate.
Looking for a quick read or an escape from your everyday life?
Check out Anne Bogel’s, “Unputdownable: 17 books I read in 24 hours or less (because they were that good).” I read several on that list, and Anne wasn’t wrong, I couldn’t put them down.
As this year comes to a close be sure to join Goodreads and set up your reading challenge for next year. I plan to set my goal at 75 books. In addition to reading more books, I plan to read books from different genres and to write honest, detailed reviews of each book after I read them. If I had done that, it would have made this list much easier, and it would have been much easier to explain why I liked a book to a friend when they were looking for a recommendation.