2017 has drawn to a close and it is now time to look back to the year that was. Overall, 2017 was a slow year compared to prior years. Nonetheless, I was still able to find time to gobble up some wonderful books. This book wrap up is a part of a mini-series which will feature the following:
- My 2017 Not-So Favorite Books
- My 2017 Top 10 Most Notable Books
- My 2017 Top 17 Most Memorable Book Quotes
- My 2018 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To List
I will be working on this list on the coming weeks. For now, this was how my 2017 went in terms of books and reading.
The Year in Retrospect
The demands of my job made me slack off on my reading. My job ate half of my time and during my rest days, I am too exhausted to even lift one book. This is the reason that I resolved to read as much as I can in 2016, which, surprisingly, I did. I was able to read 92 books from varying genres and authors. I’ve also had my fair share of classics, romances, mysteries and fantasies.
However, in spite of my towering reading achievement in 2016, I wasn’t satisfied because I barely appreciated the books I’ve read. In my rush to complete as much as I could, I forgot one facet of reading – appreciation. As a result of my 2016 reading experience, I came up with a resolution in 2017 – I will focus more on quality than on quantity.
My 2017 Top 20 Reading List
To begin 2017, I came up with a list of 20 books that I will read in spite of the circumstances. The list is a combination of acclaimed classical and contemporary works, including some award winning books.
In spite of this list, I focused more on the books that have been gathering dust on my book cabinet at the start of the year. It was in February when I was finally able to read the first book on my list, Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up The Universe. It is quite unexpected considering how averse I was with young adult fiction works. It is also the second book I have done a book review of.
Come September, I still had a slow reading year. I began to panic because I still have quite a lot to read on my list. I then embarked on a marathon reading challenge to ensure that I’d be able to read all the books on my list. But just as I was beginning to gather steam, I encountered a stumbling block in James Joyce’s Ulysses. After reading a couple chapters, I was dumbfounded. I was confused by the book’s hodgepodge of words and varying writing styles. I finally decided to put down the book in the meantime so that I’d make time for the other books on my list. This is my first did-not-finish book in quite some time.
After Ulysses, it was all smooth sailing as I checked off one book after the other on my list. No words could sum up the joy I felt when I finally read the last words of the last book on my list, with plenty of time to spare to read other novels. It has been an erstwhile exercise and I am currently building my 2018 Top 20 Reading List.
Book Reviews and Literary Appreciation
My biggest step for 2017 was penning my first book reviews. I originally planned to do my first review in late 2016 but I just kept on delaying it. With no other reasons to further delay it, I began this new undertaking with Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star. In spite of my aversion to young adult fiction, I felt that it would be easier to do a review on a YA fiction than on a classic like Tom Jones or Atlas Shrugged.
It took me some time to get the hang of it but eventually I began to enjoy writing book reviews. There were some delays in my publication but doing book reviews made me a keener reader. I have become critical of the various aspects of writing like writing styles, diction, and even the story-telling process. I have also begun appreciating complex writings by literary heavy weights like Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ayn Rand, Kazuo Ishiguro and the like.
Doing book reviews is, for me, a tremendous undertaking because it is an entirely different animal. It is challenging, and mentally draining. On the more positive note, it has helped me a lot in appreciating and understanding the books I read. Previously, I am satisfied with just winding my way through the narrative but now, I have become more critical about the different facets of the books I read. From the momentum I have gained in 2017, I will be penning more, and even better book reviews in 2018.
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
I have always thought that I was widely read considering I’ve read about 400 novels, including 42 Danielle Steel novels, over 20 Mary Higgins-Clarks and Nora Roberts novels and a bunch of other contemporary novels. But doing list challenges, and more importantly, the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, made me realize how lacking I am in terms of actual literary reading.
Before 2015, I have read a measly 15 books of these 1001 books, although technically there are 1305 books in the list because of some revisions done over the years. In my quest of becoming a well-read individual, I have set upon reading more books on this list. Since 2015, I have already crossed out 61 more books from this list. I have read most of these books in 2016 when I was on the 100 marathon book challenge.
In spite of the slack in my pace in 2017, I was still able to cross out 14 more books. I know I have quite a long way on my quest of reading all of the 1305 books listed but every day is an opportunity to complete one book from this daunting list. 2018 is another year to tick off some of these books. By the end of the year, I am hoping to breach the 100 mark. As of writing, I am currently at 77/1305.
Favorite Book of 2017
Although I have only read a measly 42 books in 2017, I wasn’t short of noteworthy reads. Of all the book I have read during the year the one book that stood up for me is Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. It is one of the books which I had the most difficulty in availing of but the time I spent waiting was greatly repaid by this amazing piece of literature. Admittedly, I am enamored by family saga such as Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance and Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game but Calliope Stephanides’ family story is truly riveting. It had all the makings of a great book – a great story, a relatable narrator, and a brilliant storytelling. It is a unique work and one that deserves to be named as my favorite book of 2017.
Most Disappointing Book of 2017
It is inevitable that one encounters some books that don’t measure up to the reader’s expectations. I had some disappointing reads in 2017 but it was Lang Leav’s Sad Girls that really failed to hit the mark. I really looked forward to it but when it came to reading time, I was aghast at the book’s lack of appeal. I like Leav’s poetry but unfortunately it didn’t translate well into prose.
2018 in Perspective
I have made strides in 2017. It was a slow reading year but it was great in its own way. I am making a headway on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I have become more critical of books I read. And perhaps most importantly, I have begun relating my thoughts by doing book reviews. 2018 will be just the same. My aims for the year will be the same as my goals for the previous year – read as much as I can and relate my thoughts through book reviews.
A new set of 365 days has been afforded to me. This fresh set of 365 days will be wisely used to accomplish as much as I could, may it be in reading, in writing, or in traveling. One thing is for sure, 2018 is another year to go all out.