BRL Best of 2017 and Year End Reflections

It’s that time again, friends, when we’re all taking stock of our reading and making plans for next year.  This has been a good reading year for me overall, although I didn’t fulfill many of the goals I set for myself at the year’s beginning.  I still read some enlightening and entertaining books, participated in the #AnneReadalong2017, the R.I.P. Challenge and Reading Ireland Month, and hit a new Goodreads Challenge goal!  So without further adieu, here is my Best of 2017 list (in no particular order.)

  1.  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  Moving and inventive, unlike anything else I’ve ever read.  Saunders is a master of the human heart and a risk-taker.  I will read anything he writes.
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Searing, violent, suspenseful, and unforgettable.  Whitehead’s finest work to date.
  3. At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor.  A witty, melancholy novel WWII British marriage and motherhood with a feisty heroine.  I’m delighted to have finally discovered Taylor.
  4. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  Some have loved this, some haven’t, but for me it was beautiful and devastating in the best sense.
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  A young black heroine teens can relate to, a realistic and loving family, and a heartbreaking exploration of police brutality in a poor African American community.  I’m thrilled this has become a best seller and is being made into a movie.
  6. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel.  My only nonfiction to have made the list.  I just adored this slim, page-turning book about a real-life hermit in Maine who survived the elements and eluded capture for decades.
  7. The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.  A gem, a book I recommend for everyone.  Warm, funny, and heartbreaking all at once.  A great way to introduce a very heavy topic (the Civil Rights Movement and the Birmingham church bombing) to younger readers.  I listened to the audiobook and it was terrific.
  8. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  I was captivated by this slim novel that mixed fantasy, dystopian, and contemporary literary fiction elements to create a moving exploration of love and war in an unsettled age.
  9. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.  The third book in the series, this one focuses on Anne at college.  I loved reading about her being on her own and making friends, having fun before settling down into a more conventional role.
  10. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery.  The last book in the series, I was take by surprise by how much I loved it.  Darker than the rest, I was enthralled and moved by how the women of the community rose up to meet the challenges of World War I and the emotional toil of sending beloved sons and brothers overseas.

As for the numbers, here are my final reading stats for 2017:

Total books read (as of 12/27/17:) 90

Fiction: 77

Nonfiction: 12

Poetry: 1

Mysteries/Thrillers: 13

Graphic Novels/Comics: 3

Audiobooks: 6

Authors of Color: 18

Middle Grade: 15

YA/Teen: 11

Rereads: 7

Goals I Completed:

Read 6 YA books.

Read 6 middle grade books.

Choose 6 “random” reads.  I was trying to inject more “whimsy” into my reading life.

Goals I Didn’t Complete:

Authors of Color at 35% or higher.  Nope.  I only read a measly 20%.

Authors in Translation.  Not a one.  UGH.

There were other goals I didn’t complete but those were the biggest ones and I won’t bore you with the others.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am a mood reader, I hate reading off of a list (even one I make myself!), and I just don’t do well with self-imposed goals.  (I’m definitely an Obliger, if you follow Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies personality framework.)  Which makes sense that I was able to complete my challenges and readalongs, because those all involved OUTER accountability.  Anyway, next year I am setting NO READING GOALS whatsoever.  I am just going to enjoy reading whatever I want, wherever my curiosity takes me.  I may participate in readalongs and challenges, I may not.

So, how about your own reading goals for 2017?  Any that you’re proud of reaching, or sorry that you didn’t reach?  Have you read any of my Top Ten?  What did you think? Talk to me in the comments below! 



49 thoughts on “BRL Best of 2017 and Year End Reflections

  1. No reading goals!!! *faints* But how will you ever know what book to read next… 😉

    Sounds like you had a great year! I’m ashamed to say the only one of your top picks I’ve read is the Anne book – I think I’m getting out of touch with contemporary stuff. Maybe I need a new challenge… hmm… 😉 Here’s to another great year of reading (and other stuff) in 2018! 😀


  2. I meant to read more books by black women and stories with fat female protagonists, but I would feel like I was overwhelming my readers with the same types of books. In the end, I didn’t read as many books by black women or about fat women as I thought I had. 🤦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Six of your faves are in my reading log and I really enjoyed them all too and there are a couple others on my TBR – plus I just added The Hate U Give too. There seems to be a lot of overlap in our faces overall!

    Maybe choosing 35% was too much of a reach? But, then, I tend to shoot too low for those things; for instance, I wanted to increase my NF reading by only 5% which wasn’t much of a challenge actually I guess (and, then, overshot that, which really really surprised me – but I think I was overfocussed on it and a more natural number would be a little lower).

    I haven’t looked at my stats for the end of this reading year yet, which might be why I’m feeling good about them right now. *laughs at self* Anyway, it’s been a good year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think 35% was a reach but I think I should have been able to just about manage it – I think I tended to reach for more “comfort reads” this year than maybe any year before – combination of dreadful political news plus some personal challenges. I’m hoping 2018 will be easier in both respects! Congrats on your nonfiction success!

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  4. I don’t usually have reading goals but there is so much I want to achieve in 2018 that I’m moving in the opposite direction to you and will be setting some for the first time.
    A great choice of reads on your list so you must be doing something right!

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  5. That’s a good reading year and you read some great books too. I’m working my way up to trying The Underground Railroad, probably when all the hype has blown over. I’ll more likely appreciate it then.
    And as far as Rubin’s tendencies go, I’m a total Rebel. Sometimes it seems that there’s no hope for me. That sounds very dismal though. I have to trick myself into doing things.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this list, Laila. Although I haven’t read any of these books, I read your reviews of these books. So, yaaay! As always, I will continue to read your post and keep feeding my TBR. 🙂 May your 2018 be bookish, memorable, and kind, Laila. Anu Boo and I send you love. ❤

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  7. I was meaning to read The Hate U Give this year, but didn’t get to it. But it was on sale on Kindle this week, and I bough it so I’m going to read it soon. So many bloggers are putting it on their best books of 2017 list, so I’m really excited to read it 🙂

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  8. You definitely had a great reading year. At Mrs Lippincote’s was on one of my past lists and I liked My Name is Lucy Barton a lot. The Watsons go to Birmingham sounds like a book Id love as well. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t know there were books beyond Anne of Ingleside until quite recently, and I’m ever so curious about the later novels.

    I’m with you in setting no reading goals next year – I’ll keep track of some things for my interest, but so long as I’m reading, I’ll be happy (I ended up abandoning my 2017 challenges mid-year).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations on reading so many books this year! I didn’t even read half of the number you read 🙂 I was a little reluctant to read Exit West, because of the mostly mixed reviews. I might give it a try this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually read about 75-80 books a year, so 90 was a stretch – and it made it not as fun at the end of the year, to be honest! It’s not quantity, it’s quality! Exit West is one of those books that you either love or you feel “meh” about. I happened to love it. I read it in almost one sitting, which almost never happens for me.

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  11. Sounds like you had a great year! Goals are to strive for, not necessarily to reach (at least, that’s the way I like to look at them). 🙂
    I love seeing those two LMMs on your list! Hooray!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah I read 4 on your list: Lucy Barton, Bardo, Exit West & Stranger in the Woods, but I really need to (still) read the Colson Whitehead book! I picked Home Fire this year as my top pick but there were quite a few good ones.

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  13. What an awesome reading year you had!! The Hate U Give also made my favorites list. The Underground Railroad was on my favorites list from last year 🙂 My favorite Anne books were Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, and Anne’s House of Dreams… so far at least, I’m only on book #7 lol

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  14. Ahhh, the four tendencies! I waffle between a Questioner and an Obliger. I am an obliger when I am new to a situation, but once I become experienced I’m a questioner. It’s really infuriating for people to watch me flip back and forth. I can totally see you’re an Obliger, through. It fits you– and remember, this is just a strength to leverage! There are no correct answers here.

    And I am with Naomi on this one– Goals are meant to be striven for. It’s okay if you don’t meet them. The point is they challenge you to be more than you are. But, it’s my personal perspective that blogging should never be stressful. Don’t put too much on yourself.

    As far as shared books, I’ve obviously read all the Anne books, Plus, The Underground Railroad. The Watson’s Go To Birmingham has been on my to read list for a long time. It sounds quite compelling! I also have a weak spot for MG literature. 😀 finally, a book we both read this year I loved was Rebecca. I wasn’t expecting it at ALL. I was blown away.

    Liked by 1 person

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