Since my blogging fizzled out midway through 2016, this list spans both 2016 and 2017. You may recall that I set out to read 100 books in 2016 – I fell just short at 94. I decided to keep my 2017 reading goal lower at 60, though again, I missed the mark, ending the year having read 52 books. I haven’t hit my goal either year, but I’m still proud of those numbers and just happy to be reading so enthusiastically again.
This is an incomplete list of my favorite reads from the past two years, listed in the order in which I read them. It includes only books that I read for the first time — although I’ve been slowly rereading all of my favorites over the past several years – I figure you don’t need me to tell you how much I loved the Harry Potter series 🙂 I also read a lot about massage, marketing, exercise science, and more recently, pregnancy and babies. Although several of those reads were excellent, I’ve left those off the list because they may not be universally interesting subject matter.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
I’ve loved every installment J.K. Rowling’s murder mystery series, written under her pseudonym, but The Silkworm is my favorite thus far. P.I. Cormoran Strike and Robin, his assistant, are interesting and believable characters, and the action is fun (I even enjoyed some of the more gruesome details.) Admittedly, one of the reasons this is my favorite of the three mysteries is it’s the only one where I’ve correctly guessed the murderer 🙂
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Somehow I made it through my first 30 years of life as a bibliophile and English major without reading this classic. I knew the story, but of course reading the novel is a very different experience than watching the TV or movie adaptations 🙂 I’m sure part of the reason I loved it was because I was already familiar with the story, but I loved the writing and the novel gives a deeper look at the characters.
One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer
A book about habits, based on the Japanese concept Kaizen that lasting and profound changes are made through a series of small, incremental steps. Maurer details why “innovation” — projects or resolutions with sweeping, starting tomorrow, always/never — doesn’t lead to lasting change the way that simple, non-threatening changes do. It’s a quick, easy read, with simple advice and stories that illustrate his point.
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
The third and final installment in the vampire trilogy (I reviewed the first, The Passage, and second, The Twelve, back in 2013.) This was a really satisfying conclusion to the story – every character got an ending that felt complete and satisfying, and overall, this book redeemed a lot of the flaws of the second.
Station Eleven by Emily St.-John Mandel
A post-apocalyptic dystopia that tells several overlapping stories: the virus that destroys the modern world and the people who survive. Several of those survivors go on to form a traveling Shakespeare company in the aftermath and travel around the new world. It’s told in a non-linear format, which made it a real page-turner because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to each of the characters.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Ove is a grumpy old man whose suicide plans are frequently derailed by his neighbors, until he accidentally becomes a valuable member of his community. This was such a touching story – I cried when I finished it because the ending is sad, but also just because I was sorry it was over.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Two fantastical beings, a golem and a jinni (or genie) who’s been entrapped for several centuries, meet in early 1900s New York and form a strange friendship. I wouldn’t say that I normally like or read much magical realism, but this was really engrossing! Though the action is fantastical, the relationships between the characters feel very real.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
A fictional account of the Canadian murderess, Grace Marks. Atwood is one of my very favorite authors (I read 7 of her novels over the past 2 years!) and I’d put Alias Grace near the top; Like all her best books, it’s beautifully written, the main character is sympathetic and ends a bit ambiguously (so it really stuck with me.) The novel was recently adapted into a really compelling TV mini-series and is available on Netflix.