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 List
This is the second part of this mini-series where I recap my top 10 favorite books of the year. So here goes!
Runners Up: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
In a year of wonderful reads, these two books from different periods just barely made the list. Nonetheless, they were both great reads and something that I would recommend.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
Potterheads unite! It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was released and still J.K. Rowling hasn’t lost her magic. I have to admit though that I am really biased towards her prolific fantasy-filled series, hence, The Cursed Child’s inclusion in my list. I literally jumped in glee when I found out that she’ll release a sequel to her Harry Potter series in 2016. Unfortunately, it had to take the backseat but the anticipation was nonetheless excruciating.
Fortunately, this year, I got the chance to delve on it. Her previous books transported me to a magical world. Ditto for The Cursed Child. There are new characters and Hogwarts has lost some of its magic, Rowling never fails to fascinate the puerile imagination. It is a story about the consequences of our choices but just like its predecessors, the latest Harry Potter book is an adventure-filled tale about friendship and loyalty.
- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Without planning it, 2017 became the year of historical novels. One of the historical novels that made a mark on me is Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning book. This is a book that I just bought out of the blue because the cover and the title piqued my interest. I didn’t even have any iota on what it was about back then! But a friend recommended it too because she enjoyed reading the book.
Admittedly, there are facets of the book that I wanted to change, most especially the way the story was told. The shifting perspective really affected my appreciation of it and made me confused at numerous points of the story. Nonetheless, it was a well written book and an arresting tale about children at the height of the Second World War.
Read my review of All The Light We Cannot See here.
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Novels about the Deep South are truly compelling reads and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees is no exception. I initially thought that it is a light story, considering the title of the book. But I was in for a surprise when it tackled more serious subjects about death, acceptance and abuse.
In spite of these darker themes, it is nonetheless a riveting novel about finding one’s self. I was immediately drawn into Lily’s story and personality even though she is just a teenager. Her journey to understanding her past was exceptionally written by Sue Monk Kidd. I guess, I am just drawn into journeys of transformation and finding one’s worth.
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay by Michael Chabon
To say that Michael Chabon Kavalier and Klay is amazing is an understatement. This wonderful book drew before me the interesting history of comics. Caught in the midst of this turbulent history are cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Klay. The novel follows their journey from the impoverished streets of New York City to the towering heights of the Empire State Building as they climb to the zenith of success.
This is yet another historical novel that made my 2017 great. With the right combination of history, adventure and romance, Michael Chabon’s magnus opus is a wonderfully written tale. It is also a tale of loyalty and friendship, two of the things that I love reading about, especially if it is from an exceptionally written book. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay is truly one gem of a book.
- A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book is one of the most difficult to find and had it not been Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2017 Nobel Peace Prize win I don’t think I’d be able to avail a copy of this book anytime soon. Since encountering this book in list challenges, I have been on the lookout. It has definitely piqued my interest. My anticipation of it was so fierce that once I was able to avail myself a copy, I put it ahead of other books that have been gathering dust on my bookshelf. And disappointed I was not!
The novel’s nostalgia awoken the inner sentimentalist in me. The sentimental and nostalgic aspects drew me into the book’s magical prose. Etsuko’s tale of motherhood, post-war Japan and clashing two cultures is so magnificently written that I was swept from the first word to the last. Even though this was Ishiguro’s first work, he has already stamped his trademark of literary excellence.
Read my review of A Pale View of Hills here.
- Tom Jones, The History of a Foundling by Henry Fielding
I’ve always found English classics very challenging reads. The last ones I’ve read really gave me tough times. This is one of the reasons why I was a bit apprehensive about reading Henry Fielding’s classical work, Tom Jones, The History of a Foundling. Moreover, it is quite lengthy, thus, making it an even more challenging and daunting read.
But alas, all my apprehensions for naught as Tom Jones is a very pleasant read. Tom Jones is a mixture of contrasting natures but it was a pleasure reading about his adventures and his growth. He had to encounter numerous stumbling blocks but he never got waylaid. His persistence and positive outlook all paid back in the end as he got one of the biggest surprises of his life.
Read my review of Tom Jones here.
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
In fourth place is Patrick Ness’ dystopian novel. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book of the Walking Chaos Trilogy although at the time I bought it, I didn’t have any inkling that it was part of a trilogy. This made me wonder why most young-adult dystopian novels come in threes just like Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Hmmm.
Before starting this book, I thought I already understood what there is to understand about dystopian novels. But then, Ness’ ingenious plot rekindled my interest in this genre. I was really drawn into the book that I can’t help but gush over it. My wonderful reading experience with this book makes me look forward to the second and third installments of this trilogy.
Read my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go here.
- Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Landing at number three spot is Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. It is one of the books that I was most looking forward to. Before finally availing myself a copy of the book, I had to scavenge different bookstores and online stores. Just as I was about to lose hope, I was finally able to purchase a copy of Eco’s debut work. Back then, I didn’t have any idea on what all the fuss surrounding it is about.
But once I got the chance to digest this classic, I just couldn’t stop myself. I literally gobbled the book from the start to the end. Eco’s powerful prose transported me to the medieval period. Pretty much like Dan Brown, it is a gripping tale that combines mystery with symbolism. I was truly impressed with this book. All the accolades it got it deserved. Interestingly enough, this novel is a book about books.
Read my review of The Name of the Rose here.
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Depression, suicide, and chronic pain are difficult subjects that nearly everyone steer clear off. However, Hanya Yanagihara skillfully navigated through these subjects smoothly and she was able to a weave a wonderful tale about suffering. Some tagged it as the quintessential gay novel but it is more than a book about homosexuality. It is a book about friendship, loyalty and unconditional love.
Yes, A Little Life is an emotional roller coaster of a book but Yanagihara was simply brilliant. She made me feel every pain that Jude felt. She made me tear up reading about his tragic past and his journey for acceptance. She made me angry, she made me laugh, and ultimately she made me see beyond one’s imperfections. And I guess that is the magic of this book, it makes you part of it.
Read my review of A Little Life here.
And my top book of 2017 is…
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
It was tough choosing between Middlesex and A Little Life. I wanted to make both of them as my 2017 top pick because they’re both exceptionally written. To say that Middlesex is the overwhelming favorite is an insult to A Little Life. Both had strong points and weak points. But in the end, I chose this Pulitzer Prize winning contemporary classic.
Middlesex is one of those very rare books that will leave an indelible mark on you. It did tackle a plethora of unusual themes such as incest, hermaphroditism, and racism but Jeffrey Eugenides did an incredible job in tying it all up together through the power his pen. It is quite undeniable that his prose is powerful and wonderful at the same time, and Middlesex just proves that point.
In Cal Stephenides, Eugenides created one of the most colorful and interesting narrators in modern fiction. One can’t help but relate to all his experiences, most especially his quest for acceptance in a prejudiced society where people fear things that they do not understand. Yes, Middlesex might be a challenging read for some but it the end, it is all worth it.
Read my review of Middlesex here.
So beloved readers, that’s my Top 10 Most Notable Books for 2017. How about you? What books made a mark on you this 2017? You can share it on the comment box if you like or you could come up with your own list. You can always tag me if you want.