2017: My Year in Books

Here at the end of 2017, I’m in the midst of my 17th relocation since I graduated high school (and my 23rd move since birth (not including the relocation from my mother’s uterus into the world at large)). That’s a lot of moving when I put it like that. It feels like a dubious accomplishment.

I vowed to make 2017 a travel year, but I didn’t know until November that in addition to the trips we took to California, Utah, Washington, DC, and Spain, we would also be relocating 3,000 miles southwest.

At the time this post publishes, if all goes according to plan, I’m sitting in a rental car with one spouse, two children, one cat, and a box full of muffins and pretzels, driving farther and farther away from the below-zero temperatures of this New England winter. I’ve spent the past few years in New England assembling a wardrobe largely made up of black and gray wool, which I trust will be of great use in San Diego.

Planned and unplanned travel and wardrobe choices aside, 2017 was, as usual, a year of books.

I read 101 books this year. The average (mean) books read per month was 8.41, and the average (mean) per week was 1.94. Total number of pages (according to Goodreads) was 27,931 (76.5 pages per day, 537 per week). Of course since a lot of these were audiobooks, not all of these were pages, per se.

Of these books, 69 were fiction (including children’s books), 10 were memoirs (up 100% from last year), and the remaining 21 were other nonfiction (an increase of nearly 150% from 2016). Of these, 16 were audiobooks and 6 were DNFs.

My Cavalcade of Classics list expired in January with disappointingly few books checked off. I plan to use my TBR List Declutter to help assemble a new, more reasonable Classics list. I’m not terribly skilled at “reasonable” when it comes to books, but it’s a laudable goal and probably something of a spiritual practice. Biblioasceticism or something.

Between Dewey’s and 24in48, I think I hit my readathon stride this year and learned a lot about how to assemble a readathon pile that holds my interest throughout 24 hours of reading.

As 2018 dawns, I am reading White Tears by Hari Kunzru. I predict that the first week of January will be filled with audiobooks, but after that I hope to be able to spend at least a little bit of time with my reading-with-my-eyes books in between house-hunting and connecting with homeschooling groups, orthodontists, veterinarians, pediatricians, dentists, and the myriad other members of our entourage.

 One of the biggest downsides of this late-breaking moving madness (we didn’t know we were moving until November 30; yippee!) is that I didn’t get my usual birthday/Christmas present of five library books selected for me by my spouse. Maybe I can convince him to get me a half-birthday/Christmas-in-June stack of books. Or maybe once we’re in the land of perpetual good weather, I’ll no longer want books as gifts. That would be strange development, indeed, but I rule nothing out anymore.

Below is my book list for 2017, by the month I finished each book. Click on the month name for the “Bookends” for that month, which includes other information about my reading progress throughout the year. I also cross-post most of my reviews on Goodreads. If you’d like to just go straight to Goodreads to see my reviews there, here’s the link to my Goodreads profile. You can also go there to see all 1163 books I’ve read and logged on Goodreads. If you’re not a Goodreads fan, you can check out my collection on LibraryThing instead, although it’s not as up-to-date as my Goodreads (alas).

December (this is the Bookends post for this month)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (YA, #2 in the Divergent series)

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link (fiction; short stories)

The Well Spoken Thesaurus by Tom Heehler (nonfiction)

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (fiction)

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (fiction, YA? Or there’s something between YA and middle-grade fiction, isn’t there? I think that’s what this is)

November

Divergent by Veronica Roth (YA, first in the series)

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (fiction; SBC November Selection)

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (memoir)

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (fiction)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (fiction)

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (YA, stopped reading)

The Turning by Francine Prose (YA, stopped reading)

What It’s Like to Be a Dog by Gregory Berns (nonfiction, stopped reading)

October

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (fiction, the SBC September Selection)

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan (nonfiction)

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (YA, #2 in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series)

Infinity by Sherrilyn McKennon (YA, Chronicles of Nick #1, recommended by my 12yo)

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (fiction)

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (YA, started with audiobook, finished with paper book)

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story by Brenda Ashford (audiobook memoir and the SBC October Selection)

Notes on a Banana by David Leite (memoir)

Ruins by Peter Kuper (fiction, graphic novel)

September

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (nonfiction)

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (memoir)

African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies by Deborah Kent (read-along with my son)

Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge (audiobook)

August

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer (fiction, SBC August Selection)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (YA, book #1 of The Lunar Chronicles)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (book #2 of The Lunar Chronicles)

Cress by Marissa Meyer (book #3 of The Lunar Chronicles)

Winter by Marissa Meyer (book #4 of The Lunar Chronicles)

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (fiction, audiobook)

1607: A New Look at Jamestown by Karen Lange (nonfiction, read-aloud)

Hudson by Janice Weaver (nonfiction, read-aloud)

Samuel de Champlain by Liz Sonneborn (nonfiction, read-aloud)

July

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (fiction, SBC June Selection)

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (fiction, audiobook)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (fiction, audiobook)

Howards End by E.M. Forster (fiction, SBC July Selection; by far my favorite book of the month)

The Dinner by Herman Koch (fiction)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer (fiction, audiobook, stopped reading)

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp (memoir, stopped reading.)

The Sea Beggar’s Son by F.N. Monjo (read-aloud, historical fiction)

Anno’s Spain by Mitsumasa Anno (“read”-aloud, wordless tour through Spain)

The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss by Sally Schofer Mathews (read-aloud, historical fiction)

Lost Treasure of the Inca by Peter Lourie (read-aloud, nonfiction)

June

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (nonfiction)

Reaching for the Moon by Lucy H. Pearce (nonfiction)

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan (memoir)

The Histories by Herodotus (nonfiction; stopped reading)

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (fiction, SBC May Selection)

May

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (audiobook memoir)

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (memoir)

The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns (fiction)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (fiction audiobook)

The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen (fiction (short stories))

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans (fiction)

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (fiction)

April

Thin Air by Michelle Paver (fiction)

Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler (fiction audiobook)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction)

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (fiction audiobook)

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (scary short stories)

Room by Emma Donoghue (fiction audiobook)

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (fiction audiobook)

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (fiction)

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver (fiction; the April SBC selection)

The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver (stopped reading)

March

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (fiction)

The Voices by F.R. Tallis (fiction)

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (fiction)

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (fiction)

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf (fiction)

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (YA fiction)

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (fiction)

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (fiction)

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (fiction)

The Road to Character by David Brooks (nonfiction)

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (fiction, the March SBC selection)

February

The Trespasser by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (fiction)

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (memoir)

Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates (fiction)

The Fever by Megan Abbott (fiction)

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (fiction)

January

The Secret Place by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #5)

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (nonfiction audiobook)

In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi (nonfiction)

Euphoria by Lily King (fiction)

The North Water by Ian McGuire (fiction)

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike (fiction)

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (fiction)

As You Wish by Cary Elwes (audiobook memoir)

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman (fiction)

The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (audiobook fiction)

Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges (read-aloud fiction)


And now for the annual exercise in public wishful thinking–New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Continue to hone my Tetris-like packing skills.
  • Swim while wearing the swimsuit I bought a year and a half ago but haven’t worn to date.
  • Walk somewhere every day.
  • Continue preparing meals out of creative blends of ingredients I have on hand.
  • Buy one house and sell another (not in that order, hopefully).

Wishing you a 2018 filled with lessons acquired with enough pain to make them valuable and lasting but not enough to lead to despair.

4 comments

  1. Lori · January 2

    WordPress ate my comment here. Ugh!
    I was saying that I am feeling like such a failure with my reading this year. I only made it through 35 books and I was hoping for about 52, but maybe 2018 will be better. Always hoping. I’ll refer back to your list when I need some inspiration for reading, as I see some very interesting titles there!

    Like

    • Charity · January 2

      I was actually really surprised when I saw my total for the year. I thought for sure it would be much lower than that. Of course, if I’d spent less time reading, I might have spent a little more time writing…

      Like

  2. Ellery Davies · January 1

    23 relocations—and 17 as an adult?!! Holy cr*p, that’s a lot of disruption!

    These thoughts spring to mind…

    1. I am thankful that you lived at your last address for 6½ years. At least, I met great neighbors! It must have been one of your longest stays at any address.
    2. True friends are durable, even if they are at a great distance. Still, I can’t imagine how you retained your sanity with so much disruption in your careers, your acquaintances and your daiy routines. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it.
    3. Dibs on the chandelier in the entry foyer. I am sending an electrician to ‘relocate’ it to my basement man. (just kidding) 🙂

    Like

    • Charity · January 1

      I guess moving is just something you get used to—or at least I get used to it—and staying in one place feels odd. I enjoy seeing myself against the backdrop of many different places. It’s one way to really know oneself, I think.

      You’re right, 6.5 years is longer than I’ve lived in any one dwelling and the longest I’ve lived in any state except California (I’ve lived in California multiple times, but never in one place longer than 3 years).

      And the thought of that light fixture in a man cave amuses me. 🙂

      Like

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