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If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I read. A lot. And, even that may be an understatement!
So, it was a little hard to choose my favorites of the year. I am sure that I left something off the list and will want to add it in another month of two! Also, please note that these are books I read in 2017, regardless of publication date. In no particular order, here are:
My Favorite Books of 2017
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Snow Child may just end up being my favorite book of 2017. It is that good. Jack and Mabel are a childless middle-aged couple who move to Alaska in the 1920s as a way of escaping the happy, child-full families around them. Once they settle in to life in Alaska, the coldness and barrenness of the place mirrors the emptiness of their relationship. One night, however, the couple makes a snowgirl out of the first snow of the year, and the next day a strange girl appears in their yard. Where did she come from? Who is she? Slowly through their interactions with the girl they begin to rediscover the joy in their marriage, to find the beauty in their new home, and to forge a brave new life for themselves. I listened to the audio version of this book (which I highly recommend), and couldn’t wait to get back into the car to hear more. The Snow Child has now become THE book that I am recommending to all of my friends!
Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson
I enjoyed reading this light, fun, and funny book. Set in rural England in the 1930s, the story depicts life reflecting art, reflecting life, reflecting art. Miss Buncle is a middle-aged woman who decides to write a book in order to earn some money (after all, she really doesn’t want to raise chickens). Having no experience whatsoever, she begins to write a story about her village and places all of her friends and neighbors into it. Though she changes their names, they are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows them. Once the book is published under a pseudonym it becomes an instant bestseller. However, can Miss Buncle deal with the aftermath? Will her neighbors discover who actually wrote it? Very easy, enjoyable reading.
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Deep Work may be one of the books that has impacted me most this year. It is by no means an easy read, but the ideas within it are incredibly helpful. The basic premise is simple: deep work (work that requires intense focus and concentration to do well and master) is a skill that is highly valuable in the work world; however, it is also a skill that is becoming more and more rare in a society that values distraction. Therefore, people who are able to cultivate deep work will become more valuable in their careers. Over the course of the book, Newport provides examples of people who have developed the practice of deep work and gives practical solutions and ideas to help the reader develop that skill.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
I originally checked out Goodbye Stranger as an audiobook and had to grab a print version because I couldn’t wait to hear what came next in the story! Rebecca Stead is a Newbery Award winning author who is one of my favorites. Her characterization and storytelling engage readers both young and old. Goodbye Stranger tells of a group of middle school friends, the challenges that they face, and both the individual and group strength that they possess. I highly, highly recommend the book for middle schoolers, though I think that teenagers and adults would also enjoy it.
Icon by Georgia Briggs
I read Icon this past summer, and, honestly, I can’t get it out of my head. That is always the sign of a good book! A dystopian novel for teens (though adults will certainly enjoy it, too), Icon tells the story of a young girl who lives in a futuristic America where tolerance is king and religion is anathema. The storytelling is gripping, the character development gentle but honest, and the incorporation of Orthodoxy seamless. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Icon would make for a wonderful book club for teens or young adults in your church.
Vanessa the Wonderworker centers around twelve-year-old Vanessa, who happens to be one of my favorite characters from the first book. Vanessa has many gifts and abilities, such as a beautiful voice, but she also has a family she is very worried about. In fact, her older brother has decided to leave the Church. He tells her he will only return if he sees a miracle. I absolutely loved this book! Even though Vanessa the Wonderworker is quite a bit longer than the first book in the series, the plot was well-paced and compelling. I found myself extremely invested in the characters and was moved to tears by the ending.
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
Last year I became a huge fan of the Maisie Dobbs series! Maisie is a young, independent detective living in post-World War I England. She uses her intellect, empathy, intuition, and understanding of people in order to solve cases. Elegy for Eddie is the ninth book in the series, so I would definitely recommend starting with the first book (called Maisie Dobbs) if you are just starting out. A word of warning, though, once you start you may not be able to stop until you’ve read all of the books! Elegy for Eddie takes Maisie back to her roots and brings her in contact with a powerful group of men working behind the scenes to shape England’s history.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry has gone into a downward spiral after his wife’s death. One morning he awakens to find a valuable manuscript stolen, and a few days later a toddler is given to him in his bookstore. Those two events change his life forever. This is an excellent story–moving, funny, and, with its numerous allusions and the fact that it is set in a book shop, the perfect story for book lovers!
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The War that Saved My Life is a YA novel that has won a boatload of awards this year, and deservedly so. It was one of the most beautifully written books that I read this year and one that I am now continually recommending to students. Ada and Jamie live with their abusive mother in London. When they are sent to the country because of the war, they live with a lady named Susan Smith. Slowly they learn to trust her love and to see themselves as they truly are. Please, go buy a copy for any middle schoolers that you love!
What were your favorite books this year? I want to add them to my TBR list!