I always keep a list at the back of my diary of every book I read. This year I read 54 books in total (and this doesn’t include any academic textbooks I pondered over in the library, and any poetry books I picked at) which averages out at just over 1 book per week, which I think is pretty good going considering that at some points this year I felt like I’d fallen out with reading all together. I did reviews on this blog of quite a few of the books I read this year (which I’ve linked below), but I thought with the year coming to a close I’d do an overall review of my reading by doing a mini review of 17 of the books I read this year which I enjoyed the most.
So here are my 17 best reads of 2017 (and yes they are in order, with number 1 being my personal best read of this year):
17. The Power – Naomi Alderman I’ve put this read in 17th only because I haven’t quite finished it on writing this post out today, I’ve got about 100 pages left and will be posting a full review once I’ve finished reading. So far it’s been an amazing read: political, gripping, and tense. Plus the hard back edition, which I got for Xmas, has a beautifully designed cover.
16. How to be a Victorian – Ruth Goodman The is a great fun history book, I love history that talks about ordinary people and this book was really interested in ordinary lives.
15. Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets I love Harry Potter, that’s no secret, but it’d be rather boring to take up 7 places on this list with those fabulous reads. So I thought I’d just nod to them by including the illustrated editions which I got for my birthday. The illustrations really brought another dimension to my reading and my love of Harry Potter.
14. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams I know this is an iconic work of science fiction, so I’m surprised I’ve never read it before to be honest. It’s hilarious, unique, and deliciously weird.
13. On the Road: The Original Scroll – Jack Kerouac 400 pages with no chapters or paragraphs. Sounds like hell? Felt like I was reading improvised jazz.
12. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley Everyone knows this story of the monster and the troubled creator. I keep coming back to this book via my studies at Uni and College before that, but I definitely love this book outside of reading it academically. It is tragic and thought provoking, a definite must read for everyone even though it is a little dense in parts.
11. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs To be fully honest I can’t give you any sort of plot summary. This book is a wild ride through visceral, disturbing and obscene imagery, you just have to strap in and get in to the unique rhythm and feeling of this book to truly appreciate it.
10. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks I have always found psychology fascinating, and this book was a great pop-psychology book. Not too much ‘pop’ to seem superficial, not too much ‘psychology’ to be inaccessible.
9. The Alienist – Caleb Carr This was a fabulous murder mystery book, half fiction, half history and totally gripping.
8. The Stranger Beside Me – Anne Rule A personal story of the Ted Bundy case. Anne worked with Ted Bundy at a help line office, at one point she even says that if she was a little younger or her daughter a little older he would have made a great husband for one of them. This is the first true crime book I’ve read, and I’m afraid that I’ll never find a better one. It’s creepy, it’s well paced, but importantly, it’s not sensationalist.
7. Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys This solemn and thoughtful book has been my favourite course book this year. It’s undeniably tragic; the main character, Sasha, seems like a precursor of all the doe-eyed sad female protagonists in pop culture today – like Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, the blonde sisters in The Virgin Suicides, and Margot Tenenbaum.
6. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty This book made me laugh and made me cry, from what started out as a YouTube binge I found Caitlin Doughty’s channel ‘Ask a Mortician’, which led me to this book. It was a beautifully written and thought provoking read about mortality, which left me thinking about it for weeks.
5. The Go-Between – L. P. Hartley This book’s opening sentence (‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’) has become more iconic and well-known than the book itself and in my opinion that is totally undeserved. This was a fabulous read with a complex plot, it had plenty of twist without losing it’s realism.
4. The Long Walk – Stephen King 100 teenaged boys set off walking, if they stop walking they are shot dead. This sounds like a BS writing prompt, but King turned it into a beautiful book. Thoughtful and tragic, with lots of well-written philosophy on what it means to live and die. He made me care about the characters just before they were ripped away
3. Adam Bede – George Eliot Anyone that was in my Victorian Literature seminar last years will know that I will defend this book to the death. It is a long read but the pay off makes it worth it. There are some brilliant characters, even those that play a smaller part are fully realised. And the plot is shocking, especially for the culture that it came out of.
2. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh This is one of my favourite books of all time and I’ve grown to appreciate it even more each time I read it while I’ve been at University (and I wrote an essay on it this year which got me an A- which I’m pretty proud of). This is a deeply unhappy book, and Sebastian Flyte is by far on of the most tragic literary figure ever to be written into existence.
1. Misery – Stephen King And so, if you’ve read this far, you’ve just found out my favourite book I’ve read this year. I think it’s the scariest book I’ve ever read: creepy, well-paced, and gruesome. I couldn’t wait to get back to reading it, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end – which I think is the mark of a brilliant book.
Hopefully this time next year I’ll have a bountiful list of books I’ve read for which my favourite 18 will be picked. I have no resolutions to read a book per week, or anything like that. I’m just going to aim to read a bit more of what I want to, around my course books.
Transcript of the list in my diary (Texts in bold are ones I read for University, texts in italic are ones that I reread this year):
- Vilette – Charlotte Bronte
- The Monk – Mathew Lewis
- An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde
- The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
- The Decay of Lying – Oscar Wilde
- Adam Bede – George Eliot
- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
- Maurice – E. M. Forster
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
- The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
- London Triptych – Jonathan Kemp
- King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
- Late Victorian Gothic Tales
- Manfred – Lord Byron
- Lois the Witch – Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Wrongs of Woman – Mary Wollstonecraft
- Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs
- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
- Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
- The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie
- The Go-Between – L. P. Hartley
- How to be a Victorian – Ruth Goodman
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
- Deathnote: Another Note: The L.A. B.B Murder Case
- The Hours – Michael Cunningham
- Suckless – Willam Belli
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty
- Qudditch Through the Ages – J. K. Rowling
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J. K. Rowling
- The Alienist – Caleb Carr
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks
- Th Stranger Beside Me – Anne Rule
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
- The Hippopotamus – Stephen Fry
- The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
- The Waste Land – T. S. Eliot
- On the Road: The Original Scroll – Jack Kerouac
- Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
- St Mawr – D. H. Lawrence
- Savage Rhythm – Chloe Cox
- The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
- As You Like It – William Shakespeare
- Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare
- Autumn Journal – Louis MacNiece
- Misery – Stephen King
- The Long Walk – Stephen King
- The Shining – Stephen King
- The Power – Naomi Alderman