It is the last day of 2017 and I thought it would be interesting to look through the books I read in 2017 and reflect on this past year of reading.
According to GoodReads, I managed to "read" 581 books. I really should say I managed to log in 581 books. I realized at one point that I wasn't as good with always logging in books so there are some that I missed. I also read parts of a number of professional texts and never added them to GoodReads. I am hoping to be a bit more successful in keeping up with book tracking in 2018.
Also, book number 582 will hopefully be completed by midnight. I am currently reading...
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams 2017)
Over the past year, I realized I listened to more audiobooks than I normally do. I find that I still have difficulty focusing as I read text in print but audio books are a bit easier to focus on. Part of my focusing issues I blame on an after effect of chemotherapy (from 2016) and part I blame on anxiety. I also realized that I read a lot of adult nonfiction in the form of professional texts (not always the whole book but chapters here and there) and books that I turned to to try and process our world as we know it since the 2016 elections.
As I looked through the books I read this year, I was having trouble identifying my favorites. It seemed like a weird year for reading. However, I realized that certain books left mark on my me. I found myself drawn to books that helped me try and make sense of our world or remind me that books can make a difference. Though there were a lot of books with serious topics, I appreciated books with humor as well. I sense the wind shifting and my reading life may be moving in a different direction. I look forward to seeing what 2018 will bring in reading adventures.
In no particular order, here are some of the books that stayed with me over the year....
Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books, 2017) - Britt and Arsenault teamed up again for another powerful story. Written in the style of a graphic novel, the story explores the impact of alcohol on a family as viewed from the eyes of a child. The story also has a coming of age/first love sub-story. Beautifully told and illustrated.
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 2017) - I took three months to listen to this book. Yes, it was a long book to begin with and I don't have a long car commute so I limited it to when I had longer drives. However, I think I needed to hear HRC, herself, narrate her story. It was comforting in some ways and gave me some hope. It also made me cry for what have lost but I won't dwell on that here.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (HarperCollins 2015) - I alway try to listen to the winners of the Odyssey Awards for Best Audiobooks. I listened to this on a road trip to Massachusetts this summer. It had an old-timey radio show feel about it on one level but very modern on another level. The full cast was an extra special treat.
Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, Illustrated by Jun Takabatake (Gecko Press 2017) - I cam across this book on one of the end of the year "best of" lists. I wasn't sure what to think of it when I started but by the end I knew it had become one of my favorites of the year. I am not exactly sure what it was about the pen pal relationship between Giraffe and Penguin that drew me in so deeply for such a short read but it was definitely a favorite of the year.
Beatrice Zinker: Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes (Disney-Hyperion 2017) - This was one of the few Nerdie Early Readers and Chapter Books that I had missed and read before writing up the announcements. It was a late in the year read but one I am so glad to have found. It was just what I needed and I definitely hope there will be more of Beatrice and her upside down thinking.
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heilgiman (Dreamscape Media 2017) - When I read long-form nonfiction, I read usually for information or to learn something. However, it is a special treat when you come across a nonfiction text that is written beautifully and sweeps you up and makes you feel like you have been whisked away to a new world. Heilgiman's biography of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, Theo was just that kind of book. From the beginning, I felt drawn into the Van Gogh family and to the life of Vincent and all of his emotions. Months after finishing the book it still haunts me.
Shelter by Céline Claire, Qin Leng (Kids Can Press 2017) - The themes of community, kindness and compassion in this story spoke to me likely because of what I see we are struggling with as a country. Do we help strangers or worry about ourselves and let others fend for themselves? And what do we do when we are the ones in need?
Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago, Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng (Groundwood Books 2017) - When I read Walk With Me for the first time, I realized when I came to the end that I needed to start over and read it again. So few stories written for children address the big worries of children. Adults sometime overlook the fact that children worry about the same things as they do. They are often more aware of what is going on then we think they are. Buitrago deals with a child's worries over a missing father and lack of credit at a store by creating a powerful companion in the form of a lion.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Listening Library 206) - This was another Odyssey winner and one of those books that when you stop to take a break it haunts you until you pick it up to listen again. I may have loved it more because Allan Corduner (Book Thief) narrated the audiobook. Sometimes a good narrator does that for a book. It was also one of those books that you wonder who the audience is for the book. The main character starts the book at age 7 but from the beginning I could see that this was not for a younger audience. This is one of those literary novels that works best for teens on up. For readers who love magical realism and historical fiction (1939 Poland) and an outstanding audiobook narrator, then this is worth a listen.
Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson (Macmillan Audio) - This was another book that I am sure I was drawn to likely because of the racial tensions in our world these days. Sadly, though powerfully narrated by Dyson, I suspect that those who really need to hear this book won't actually take the time to listen with open hearts.
As I come to the final hours of 2017, I look forward to 2018 and new stories.