If you read my post the other day you got to learn more about my writing aspirations growing up. So, it will hopefully come to no surprise that I am an avid reader. Growing up, I was obsessed with the Bronte’s and Jane Austen and also any chick lit I could devour. I don’t read as much as I used to as an English major, but I still try to read at least 20 books a year (thanks for keeping count Goodreads!). Speaking of Goodreads, follow me if you want to see real life updates of my 2018 reading challenge progress!
Below are some of my favorite books that I read during 2017 (and some in 2016, but were too good to not tell you about!). I also linked them all in my Amazon Shopping List!
We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Fowler
This book was actually recommended to me by my friend Ellesse after I asked for some recommendations mid-year because I was almost exclusively reading books recommended by The Skimm and being super disappointed in them. Do NOT read The Light We Lost, by the way, it’s horrific and I can’t believe The Skimm recommend it. Anyway, this book is a delight. It somehow manages to be funny and serious at the same time. The writing is smart, sassy, and the topic is intriguing. I’ll give a tiny synopsis, but I don’t want to give anyway away so this is going to seem pretty vague. The story is about a girl in college whose brother has disappeared, and it is somehow connected to another disappearance of someone in her life who felt like family. It’s not really a mystery, but more like a mystery of trying to figure out who these two people were in the protagonist’s life. Read this. It really is spectacular.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This is one of the books that I read in 2016, but it’s one that I recommend anytime someone asks for a book recommendation. This one was a fast read for me, mainly because each chapter follows a different person within this one family that originated in Ghana. The interesting twist is that the story starts with two sisters of a Fante tribe. One of the sisters is captured and traded to Englishmen to be shipped to America and be sold into slavery, while the other stays in Ghana. The story unfolds over 300 years, but each chapter zeroes in on one person and it progresses up until modern times. I learned so much about the slave trade in this book, but also just about progress, or lack thereof, that our countries have made since then. Fantastic read. Couldn’t put it down.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
OK, I’ll admit it. This was no The Girl on the Train, which is why I think it doesn’t get a high rating on Goodreads. However, I found the content highly intriguing. I’ll agree, there are a lot of characters in this book and at first, it’s hard to keep them all straight, but see it through and trust me you will not regret it. What the book descriptions don’t tell you is that this book is anchored in witchcraft. Meaning these turbulent waters that all these women die in are connected to witches being taken to them to see if they could float back during the Salem Witch Trials era. If you could float, you were a witch and if you sunk, you weren’t a witch, but usually died anyway. The story follows a slew of different female characters and their connection to the water and I found it very interesting once you figured out who was who. I kept a little list on my bookmark while I was reading it to make sure I didn’t forget each character’s little back story.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Cue the sobbing. This memoir is about a young doctor who is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and begins to write about his experiences because as a young boy, he had debated between a career in medicine or in literature. The memoir is really about what makes a life worth living and it’s poetic and beautiful and lyrical. Kalanithi is really a genius with words and it’s crazy how talented he was. If you’ve dealt with cancer in any aspect of your life, this is a hard read, but very much worth it. This one was recommended to me by my father and sister since we have all dealt with a lot of cancer in our lives and it was very therapeutic.
Shrill by Lindy West
If you are curvy (and even if you’re not), I highly recommend this read. West’s memoir is about not fitting in and how she dealt with that and is still dealing with it now with her highly public battle with Internet rolls. I found myself taking screenshots of multiple pages to go back later and to read and bring up in conversations, which to me is always a sign that something is sticking and resonating with you and therefore should be recommended to others to read as well.
Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
This book was recommended to me by one of my fellow book club members, Sami, and I really enjoyed it. Hepola is very self-deprecating, one of my favorite traits about myself btw, and while the story she tells is very sad and sometimes hard to hear, she somehow makes it…I don’t want to say funny because it’s a serious topic, but yea it does have a good amount of humor.