I haven’t done a Recent Reads in ages! I am still an audiobook junkie, listening when I crochet, when I walk, when I cook. The fact that I can download a book to my phone and listen anywhere is one of those amazing things that makes me giddy. How else could I find the time to read 37 books in 2017!
Here are a few of my favorites from the year:
The Changeling, Victor LaValle
The most creative mind-bending piece of work I have read in a long time. You are moseying along in present day NYC and suddenly drop into a rabbit hole inhabited by some ancient folk lore. Excellent…long and intense, but worth it. I wrote this in my Goodreads review: “What a mind f**k this was…what a beautifully creative pile words. I agree with whomever said this was a little Murakami-esq., but with closure, with all the randomness coming to a point. Thoroughly enjoyed.”
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Lisa See
So much beauty in this book, so many moments where I was completely verklempt, deeply feeling the emotions of the characters. The writing is beautiful, the characters are whole and developed, the scenery is gently painted in between the story and lines and on top of all that, it is smart. It teaches you things about a culture you’ve probably never heard of and of course, tea.
The Sound of Gravel, Ruth Variner
This book, the true story of a girl’s life in a polygamist cult, was read months ago and I can still vividly see scenes from it. It is well written and richly described. When I finished, I scoured the internet for more information, I was fully invested in the author’s life and future.
You and its sequel Hidden Bodies, Caroline Kepnes
Ok, so I recently heard that the first book You is going to be turned into a movie (insert eye rolling emoji). It will probably be terrible because the creepiness that sits in the peripheral of everything Joe, comes from his thoughts. Caroline Kepnes has created a lovable, twisted character that you route for…even though he is a sociopath, the killing kind. The books alone are probably only 3 star books, but the audio versions are easily 4s for me. Read by the actor Santino Fontana…he becomes Joe…his cadence and breath and run on thoughts embody the insanity and create more than just the words. Probably not for everybody, it can feel a bit cheap some times, but I devoured both books.
Bird Box, Josh Malerman
Don’t open your eyes! I read this back in July, and I can still see the imagery, feel the panic and desperation. An apocalyptic story that is well thought out and comes together in a complete way which seems rare to me. There are questions that linger, but they do not detract from the overall weight of things.
Final Girls, Riley Sager
This is the type of book I like to read in between historical fiction and sweeping dramas. A psychological thriller that is unexpected and unpredictable. At no time did I think I had this one figured out and that is my measure of a good thriller.
The Sinner, Petra Hammesfahr
I don’t have regular TV (just Netflix and Amazon Prime) so I wasn’t able to watch the series based on this book that came out this year. But everyone was talking about it, so I read it. I’m probably better off because I doubt the show captured the feel of the book. It was very complex, like the way the brain responds to trauma is. I didn’t love it, but I felt it in my cells.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
While I was waiting for newer books to come into the library, I picked up the audio version of this book that I read more than 20 years ago. I loved it originally, but was completely floored at how different it felt when it was read to me by the author. Absolutely amazing. If you read this book before and liked it, do yourself a favor and listen to the audio version.
And here are a few that I didn’t like:
I did abandon three books (Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and The Boy On The Bridge by M.R. Carey (sequel to The Girl With All The Gifts) this year, and I always feel a little guilty about it, but these never grabbed my attention and were irritatingly bland.
I pushed through the following four books and shelved them under: Disappointing Despite Being Highly Rated – 2017
Version Control, Dexter Palmer – An interesting premise, but it drags on and on and could have been better crafted. I could have loved this book, it is right up my alley…the whole, ‘what is real and what is time’, but no such luck. It also wrapped up in an unpleasing way for me.
Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie – Not terrible, but did not live up to the praise for me (was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for 2017). It is hard to describe why I didn’t like it because the writing itself wasn’t bad, but maybe it felt contrived for the sake of making a statement. It didn’t feel complete or whole and the end really left me feeling robbed a bit.
Watch Me Disappear, Janelle Brown – The worst book I actually finished and did not abandon in 2017. I finished it only out of boredom, not because I was invested in any of the two dimensional characters or the lightweight plot. I really hated it and I really disliked everyone in it.
Are You Sleeping, Kathleen Barber – Another book with no likable characters and I thought the writing was actually bad. It did have an unexpected twist, so there is that.
How about you? Read anything amazing recently?