It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year: BOOK LIST SEASON. As always, here’s the best of what I read, a full list at the bottom, and *bonus* my favorite book lists currently floating around the internet!

Top 5 of 2017

  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi | If I talked to you about books at any point in 2017, I talked about Homegoing. I read it twice this year. I hosted a book club for it. I’ve told 97 people to go buy it. This is THE BEST novel. Tracing one family tree from early 1700s to present day, each chapter is a new person’s story. Not only is the concept of the novel so wonderfully novel, the writing is beautifully done, the characters are real and vibrant, and the story itself is top notch.
  • Hidden FiguresMargot Lee Shetterly | If you somehow missed this film earlier this year, FIX IT. But, like always, the book is so much better than the movie (which is saying something, because this movie is pretty near flawless). Hidden Figures is wonderfully researched and wonderfully written – it’s a historical page turner that brought me to tears a handful of times. The amount of women, especially women of color, who have been left out of history books is astounding – but Shetterly manages to write from an encouraging place of hope.
  • The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert | I’ve fallen so far deep into the enneagram rabbit hole (because I’m a 5, obviously) – but even if I hadn’t, this book is wonderful. It is DENSE with a capital D and then four more capital letters; it took me quite a while to get through it, but was so worth it. The enneagram itself has taught me so much about myself and those around me – and this book offers so much valuable depth.
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick | This book blew me away. I’ve already said that I fully realize not everyone will love this read as much as I did, but I felt like a book was written for me for the first time in a long time. Mixing in history, mini biographies of females writers and poets, and musings on modern romantic relationships – it even breaks down the history of the word spinster, its legal ramifications, and questions its social consequences as well. What?! I couldn’t put it down.
  • What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton | This book was so much more fun to read than I ever expected. To be sure, it was sobering, infuriating, and brought me to tears – but it was also a highly enjoyable experience to get a glimpse behind the curtain into the mind of HRC. I audibly laughed when she talked about her preference of Goldfish crackers. The fact that this woman is not our president still grieves me to no end – but this book is a really honest look at 2016, and a very hopeful look to our future.

Best Novel

  • Homegoing, Ya Gyasi | already discussed above
  • Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly | I’m a sucker for various story lines that intermingle over time, and this one is a historical take on three very different women in WWII. I loved each story line, but also the historical significance they highlighted.
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas | This is a super easy, super quick read (YA for the win!) that comes with SO much to unpack. Thomas does an amazing job of wrapping up police brutality, systematic racism, casual racism and so much more in an easy-to-digest package. It’s an enjoyable read that gives you so much to think about. It’s also being made into a movie, so be sure to read it before then!
  • …Harry Potter series, OBVIOUSLY. Rereading them, even now, still blows me away with how talented JK Rowling is. We do not deserve her.
  • *The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt | I feel a need to include The Goldfinch here, as it was an insanely well written novel… but at the same time, I wasn’t blown away quite as much as the world was back in 2014 when this was the biggest craze. It felt like 3 different novels crammed into one insanely long story. If it hadn’t been so famously acclaimed, I honestly don’t know if I would have stuck it out – 2/3rds of the way through I was ready to stop reading.

Most Inspiring

  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert | Gilbert’s take on creativity is so fun and so freeing. This whole book was equal parts breath of fresh air and a push to get working.
  • What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton | already discussed above
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick | already discussed above
  • Hidden FiguresMargot Lee Shetterly | already discussed above

Best Poetry

  • The Sun and Her Flowers Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur | Kaur’s second collection of poetry is definitely a bit more mature than her first, but both are beautiful. She has a unique ability to speak into deep hurts with a hopeful tone, as well as put words to pain that you didn’t know you needed. Both are must reads.
  • The Princess Saves Herself in This One, Amanda Lovelace | Can we just take a second to relish the title of this one? I love it so much. Lovelace’s collection is a quick read (if you want it to be), but makes some lasting impressions. The fairy tale theme is cleverly woven throughout (as well as a few wonderful Harry Potter references!), but doesn’t feel trite or cliche. The book as a whole speaks to healing, growth, and the ability to push forward no matter what.

Most Interesting

  • The Circle, Dave Eggers | This is, in my opinion, a key example of when men do not know how to write women characters. Mae is so fake and feels so flat it’s a bit comical – but the premise of this book is so fascinating I read every page. It will definitely make you rethink how you go about social media, what you post on the internet, how connected you feel to people via your smartphone and, most importantly, privacy. Working at a tech company and writing on the internet, I think about parts of this book constantly. The movie was pretty bad as well (especially for the famous headliners!), but still an interesting concept.
  • Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle | Fascinating look into how we communicate with each other since technology has basically taken over everything. This book is super well researched and also super duper dense – but an amazing dive into how we tick as humans and what we really need (hint: each other).
  • Hidden FiguresMargot Lee Shetterly | already discussed above
  • What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton | already discussed above
  • The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert | already discussed above

Funniest Reads

  • Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker | If you haven’t yet been introduced to the gift that is Jen Hatmaker, oh man. Get ready. She holds nothing back, isn’t afraid to say what’s on all of our minds, and switches from discussing Netflix binging to women’s role in the church effortlessly. She is FUNNY, deep, caring, and so, so, so real.
  • I’m Judging You, Luuvie Ajayi | This is basically a whole book dedicated to who Ajayi gives the side eye to and it is WONDERFUL. From that person who shares too much of their romantic life on Facebook to the friend who only is present when they are in crisis to America’s issue with race – this book is everything we all feel. And it is laugh out loud funny.
  • Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay | A collection of essays surrounding ideas of feminism, this book isn’t necessarily in the comedy section. But Gay’s quips and zingers at people in the midst of wonderfully written, wonderfully developed thoughts are hilarious. This woman is as funny as she is smart – which is VERY. On another note, her introduction essay discussing how we all are, in fact, bad feminists was life changing for me and you should all pick up this book.

Special Shoutout:

  • What It Means When a Man Falls Out of the Sky, Lesley Nneka Arimah | I am not usually a fan of short stories – at least, I didn’t think I was until this book was gifted to me. Small stories with big punch, I enjoyed nearly every page and even reread a few chapters. There are so many wonderful authors coming out of Nigeria right now, and Arimah is high on that list.

Full 2017 List:

Other Great Lists:

Sidenote: Are we friends on Goodreads? I LOVE Goodreads.

One thought on “Best Books of 2017

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