It’s Grace here to do a post I haven’t attempted in a few years. The lovely Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner put together this survey back in 2010 (a few months before I started blogging) and it’s a great way to flesh out my thoughts on some of the reads I’ve tackled in 2017, without making it so black-and-white as to designate favorites. That’ll come later, when I do my WLS Best of 2017. Especially since I’m in the middle of a few that I really, really like. Excuse discrepancies in the numbering, as I shamelessly skipped questions that were too difficult or repetitive.
Number Of Books You Read: 139 thus far (the year isn’t over yet!)
Number of Re-Reads: No clue. It’d be fascinating to keep track but I don’t have my life together that much yet.
Genre You Read The Most From: Textbooks? (Ha.) While I normally say YA, this year, adult fiction (short stories, philosophical novels, and the like) may have come pretty close. If I had to characterize the genre, I’d say introspective musings told in creative or unconventional ways.
1. Best Book You Read In 2017?
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
A Little Paris Bookshop was so boring to me, and I didn’t find it well-written at all. Not a fan. Also, A Court of Mist and Fury took me SO long to get through, which was tremendously disappointing to me. Because I’ve been more out of my comfort zone this year, I found a lot of books I read to be not up to my usual standards, which is a little sad but I’m choosing to see it as a good thing. A good amount of books I read could be shoved into this category.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Any of the books I read in my Poetry’s Otherworlds seminar I took winter term — poetry books — were shockingly good to me. I loved Transformations by Anne Sexton, Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith, and Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Bless you, Professor Wheeler.
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
That’s a difficult question! Plenty of people told me this year that they shopped for books off my Instagram, but I didn’t hear many specifics. (Please do tell me if you buy based on a recommendation; it’s always so fun to hear!)
You can check my review of the last one here.
5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?
I loved The School for Good and Evil. It’s a middle grade, which I still enjoy reading. It has the fairy tale magic that I associate with books like Narnia or Disney movies, while still having plot twists and intense action. I see it as having the same potential for widespread appeal as Harry Potter, or other books that were crucial to my childhood. That entire series was a fabulous discovery.
I finally continued with Ally Carter’s Heist Society series and loved the rest of the series. Uncommon Criminals was an excellent sequel. If you like art thievery, witty banter, and pulse-pounding twists at international locales, have I got an author for YOU.
I listened to The Raven King on audio because I love the series on audio and I dug it so hard. It made me cry multiple times. It was dark, twisty, and intense. It’s one of my favorite series of all time. With that being said, there were a few flaws, but it was so, so worth it.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?
I technically read Emma Mills for the first time last year but I’ve gone out of my way to read her books this year and have been marvelously rewarded. She has everything I want in a contemporary: strong and entertaining heroines, witty banter, simmering romances involving best friends falling for each other.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Hard to say but I enjoyed The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself, which was definitely out of my comfort zone. While I love reading about theoretical physics, a lot of it goes straight over my head (which makes it hard for me to get through sometimes!)
I also read a ton more short stories this year, which I don’t normally delve into, thanks to my success last year with The Unfinished World: And Other Stories.
8. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
This is a tough question, because most of my rereads are from 2012, 2013, etc,. I’d probably reread a Rachel Van Dyken book because her characters are hilarious, or The Raven King because Maggie Stiefvater has my heart forever and ever. Review of the second here.
10. Most memorable character of 2017
Charlotte Holmes from A Study in Charlotte. I love juxtapositions in descriptions — like pairing three attributes about a person together that clearly don’t go together that make them more intriguing. I fall for it every time. I love the sense that you know what type of things a person does without the author saying much of them at all — it means they’re fully fleshed out. It’s something Maggie Stiefvater does an excellent job with, and clearly Brittany Cavallaros as well.
Geryon from Autobiography of Red was also really sweet and torn with longing, and I adored his complexities.
11. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?
13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2017?
On Love by Alain de Botton really got me. I read it while dealing with a tough breakup of sorts, and it gave me a lot of comfort, laughs, and also food for thought. It takes a relationship and breaks down the nuance of every small piece of it, from beginning to end. All the habits and patterns you don’t realize you’re playing into. It’s fascinating to see how predictable people can be, and to read such an “emotional” experience so academically. Review of that one here.
Also, I regularly worry about the Franny and Zooey issue of being a helpful person vs. helping because it makes you feel good, and whether or not that secretly makes me a narcissist. I talked about The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism in this Big Picture post, and underlined so much within the read.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane had been on my list forever. Glad I finally got around to it!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?
I’m very much a line-oriented gal, so I have a hell of a lot of these. Here’s one from Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Midnight at the Electric which is of course poignant.
“Her faith never changes, while mine does all the time – blinking out at times, flaring up at others. For the moment, I think maybe there is a God but a different one than she says. I think God might be the dust and the jackrabbits and the rain, that God might be Teddy and the bullet that killed him, the beautiful and exquisite moon and the terrible zeppelins, all spread out and everywhere. I’ve begun to think that maybe we are God’s fingers rubbing against each other to see how it feels. Do you think that is a sacrilegious thought – that God might be everything and its opposite?”
I loved my Poetry’s Otherworlds seminar at W&L my winter term, and this is from one of the books of poetry we read. Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars.
I’m still here. I don’t think of you often, but when I do, I think you must look at people slowly, spinning through the versions of their lives before you speak. I think you must wonder what’s under their coats, in their fists, what words sit warming in their throats. I think you feel humble, human. I hardly think of you, but when I do, it’s usually that.
I loved almost all the lines in On Love and found the ending of History of Wolves to be gorgeously compelling.
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
I spent way too much time reading Outlander over the summer, and it was worth it! Although it was slow, it had engrossing Scottish history and worldbuilding that was fun to read. I won’t be able to read the sequel for a while because of the length, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The shortest books would probably be my Milan Kundera indulgences.
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaros, which will be my answer for about half of these.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
My top literary couple of the year is actually from a manuscript I read for my internship — so I can’t say! Such a cop-out. I also didn’t read much romance after March (yikes) so I don’t have a great answer for this one.
Jamie and Charlotte from A Study in Charlotte.
Claudia and Gideon from Foolish Hearts.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
I love the relationship of the crew in Ally Carter’s Heist Society series.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Renée Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist fit with her style exquisitely well (review coming!), and Spellbook of the Lost and Found was an evocative and dark magical realism that shows me Moïra Fowley-Doyle is continually growing as a writer. Featured that one here with a mood board and playlist curated by the author and here in my review.
21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
People don’t often force me to read books (or even strongly recommend them to me.) In general, it’s just the hubbub of the blogging world around me.
I also enjoyed A Severe Mercy, which I hadn’t been expecting to like as much as I did, but it had good lines.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
I helplessly love Jamie from A Study in Charlotte (shocker!) Also really love any characters that Emma Mills writes — Gideon from Foolish Hearts perhaps? Or Hale from Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels. As always, Gansey from The Raven King. I’m not a big fictional-crush gal so these tend to be just guys whose personalities I enjoy reading. (They’re all linked above, by the way!)
23. Best 2017 debut you read?
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I love Rachel van Dyken, and her books this year gave me a lot of joy. My twin sister and I almost exclusively refer to her as “that author that makes us laugh.” Her books are laugh-out-loud hilarious — so satirical and over-the-top, with sizzling romance. I loved her Consequences series and I loved reading Cheater.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?
The Raven King, More Than We Can Tell, A History of Wolves, We Are Okay.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
I don’t know if enough people know about The Path of Most Resistance, which is a collection of short stories that I wholeheartedly loved. I’m pretty picky about short stories because truthfully, I find a lot of them to involve a lot of middle-aged men drinking whiskey and cheating on their wives. The Path of Most Resistance had truth, but told beautifully — some grit, but when necessary. I loved all the subtleties in the stories, and the framework they operated within.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?
I think I always have to say whatever book by Milan Kundera I read in a given year. I read Slowness over the summer and I loved that it starts essentially with a guy being stuck in traffic and annoyed about it. Naturally, he constructs a complex narrative inside his head about a ton of couples and figures who (inevitably) get themselves into philosophical binds.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?
I have a few Instagram loves, but those will come in a separate post!
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I loved my Big Picture feature, like a little virtual book club. I enjoy books that challenge my conceptions, and I’m glad I could finally make a space for it.
I also loved hosting Moïra Fowley-Doyle on my blog for the mood board, playlist, and extras! Getting the behind-the-scenes look at the construction of a book that feels so magical is always fun for me.
I’ve gotten to delve into a little more lifestyle this year, which has been a nice transition since I’m in college and can’t always have fresh book-related content! It’s been a great release to be able to talk about coffeeshops, cards, and other relevant topics. I loved putting together my dream reading nook.
I’m a big fan of highlighting underrated reads, and I put together some mood boards during the summer for that exact purpose. Loved that post.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
I’d have to say that my internship — although it’s cooled down lately — has been really rewarding. It’s nice to get to go back into the thick of things, working directly with manuscripts as opposed to finished copies. Plus, I’m exploring more options in terms of whether or not to try and work for a publishing house, agency, or in something else entirely.
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Time management! I’ve gotten better about prioritizing books (and I’ve been horribly, horribly antisocial) but it’s still hard considering my other commitments on campus. Plus, once you get behind on which new releases are coming out, you feel less included in the general blogosphere — and totally out of the loop.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My biggest post has been recommendations for those who liked the Vampire Academy series. Although I wrote it a few years back, it’s still a solid list that I think hits the mark — and always gets a ton of attention.
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Really just reading more and reading out of my comfort zone!