Thursday, December 14, 2017

Top 10 Books I've Read in 2017

Here are my top 10 books of 2017!

10. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer 

This is a problematic start to the top 10, I know. When I read this book back in January, I loved it. It was funny and relate-able, and Amy went to Towson University, which I can rattle off many of my friends and family members that also went there. I didn't quite get the hate yet, about her, and just simply enjoyed her book.

I have not seen her movie Snatched, and I don't even think I ever seen the latest season of her show, Inside Amy Schumer. While I do appreciate that she's trying to become more political and use her fame to talk about issues like gun control and sexual harassment, it's like she's become every other progressive liberal in Hollywood, where they are content to preach their views to like minded individuals, but fail to offer real support for those who need it.

She also steals jokes, according to the internet. WOOF.

9. The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I read these books out of order, and though this is the second book in the series, it's the one I read last. There is one more book after this one, but after reading the reviews, I think I'm going to pass due to the fact that Pfeffer handles these themes in a problematic way.

The reason why the I put this book at number 9 is that it's still such a good post-apocalyptic YA novel, and I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic settings. It's completely different from the first novel, where it's set in New York City at the end of the world, and follows the children of a family, where the mother dies on the night the asteroid moved the moon and the father is in Puerto Rico and is never seen again. Alex and his two sisters struggle to survive in an urban environment, and they become closer as the book goes on.

8. Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I am a sucker for books that are "Harry Potter-esque." Kids that have powers that are hidden from the rest of the world and something evil is coming after them? DONE. The book has "sideshow" pictures, the same pictures that Jacob uses to find the home from his grandfather's stories. It's Gothic and vintage, and though there is a male protagonist, he's far from the "chosen one," and the other peculiar children band together to survive.

 I have not seen the movie adaptation, and though I shied away from watching it, it might be a possibility over the Christmas break.

7. The Passage by Justin Cronin

When Cronin is on, he is on! The first third of the book is compelling, and he sets up the world perfectly, allowing the audience to see the train wreck that is going to happen, and no one can stop it. However, the abrupt changes in setting is frustrating, and as soon as you become familiar with Wolfast, Amy and the other characters, they are gone, and you are propelled into the future, and the set up isn't as tight as it was the first time around.

It comes around full circle and the characters that you've invested in make another appearance, but if you aren't invested in what happened to them as I was, the book falls a bit flat. Again, I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic novels, so of course I will read the second book in the series.

6.  How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having it All -And then Some! by Reductress

This is a quintessential coffee book. It's colorful with short stories, poems and tidbits but tailored to the feminist perspective, where all you can do is roll your eyes and say it again with more sarcasm.  The book is fantastic. It's colorfully done, using many of their satirical news articles from the website as basis for their book. It's a beacon of light during an especially troubling time,with a much needed lens of being a woman.

It's a great coffee table book, and it's a great book to re-read when these troubling times get to you.

5. Red Rising by Pierce Brown 


This book checks most of my boxes: dystopian, science fiction, YA, book series. The world is creative, and Brown doesn't waste time slowly introducing you to the world that he created. He throws you in, first person narrative, and then effectively changes the setting one-fourth of the way through the book.

It's easy to follow, engaging, and you are invested in most of the characters, even if Darrow is the biggest Gary-Sue I have ever seen, and there seems to be a bit of a woman problem. I still don't buy that Darrow, a Red sentenced to be a miner and live his life without ever seeing sunlight, is able to pass as a Gold, the best of the best of the best in the Galaxy, and managed to win the games by the end of the book, but I almost didn't care as Brown drives you this world that is simplistic in it's design and engaging.

4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


This was my first book that I listened to on Overdrive this year. I downloaded the app again when I was going to Greece to visit friends, but unfortunately my phone was stolen (pick pocketed right on the train!) so I was unable to listen to the rest of the book until I got back.

I'm conflicted about WW2 novels because there seems to be an constant influx of Historical Fiction set in WW2 with no end in sight. I get it, the "Great War" and many Americans love to romanticized the war where there was a "clear enemy." I was also conflicted by this book because it was set in France, where accounts of the French resistance is shady at best.

I really did enjoy this book. It didn't go where I thought it was going to go, and Hannah did a phenomenal job of what it means to really sacrifice for the greater good. No character was left untouched by the end of the novel, which is a requirement of war book, but one that many authors do not abide by.

 3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman 

I got this book at the Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio. It's a fantastic independent book store where there are 32 (I think?) rooms to peruse books, with everything from top sellers to more unique books that wouldn't typically be available in other books stores or libraries.

I enjoyed the movie immensely (how could you not?!) and the book, written after the movie based on the screen play, did not disappoint!. It was even more special because it reads like an adult recounting the days when he was younger about The Princess Bride, but this time he gets to actually look at the book, and realize that his father skipped over many of the (boring) parts!

Now I want to watch the movie again...

2. Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America


 I remembered when he made the news hitch hiking and was picked up by the band Here We Go Magic, and I remembered many people theorized that, finally, John Waters had lost his damn mind. He hadn't made a movie in a while, (I think the last one was Dirty Shame) and obviously he couldn't handle it, and started hitch hiking. 

It was for a book, that Josh got for a Christmas present a few years ago. John Waters actually signed it but Josh hadn't gotten around to read it. It's a shame John Waters can't make independent movies anymore (in the book he discusses why) because he's a local hero in his weirdness and putting Baltimore (Baltimore City, County and Maryland) on the map. 

The book is entertaining, weird, and everything you expect John Waters to be. Side note: when the Freddie Grey riots were happening, I was at Rocket to Venus in Hampden with a few friends and Josh, and John Waters sat in the booth behind us. In typical Baltimore fashion, no one said anything to him or looked his way. Baltimore is too cool for that celebrity shit, though Josh and I secretly freaked out for an hour. 

 1. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler


This is not a new book. Butler passed away in 2006, and therefore her books are finite, which is a shame. Her most famous book is Kindred which is currently is required reading for 9th graders in Baltimore County. 

This is the sequel to the book, Parable of the Sower. The setting is post-apocalyptic (do we sense a theme here?) but what makes these two books SO GOOD is that unlike other dystopian novels where there seems to be a catalyst that initiates the end of the world, the protagonist, Lauren, describes the world in such a manner that it feels like that it could definitely happen in our life time. 

The sequel follows Lauren Olamina on her journey to navigate a world where the President is a religious zealot and emboldened Christian Extremists to attack Lauren and her followers as well as stealing the children that lived on her farmstead.

Like many of Butler's books, her protagonists are usually female and black, and the rest of the cast are diverse and well rounded.  It's a harrowing read, and as the reader, you are unsure where the book will finish up. It ends positively (for the world) but has disastrous affects on Lauren's family.

I loved this book for several reasons, but the major reason why I loved this book that it so closely mirrored the state of our current political affairs, but there was a way out of it. The book gave me hope, that despite all the chaos going on around us now, that humanity will win, and we will become stronger because of it.

There are my top 10 books of this year!  Did any surprise you? What were your favorite books you've read this year?

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