my favorite books of 2017
Keeping cozy with some new titles.
One of my 2017 resolutions was — in the crazed midst of my final year of school — to read more books. In previous years, I'd only managed to read one or two books for fun; and usually, they were read during my summer breaks. My courses of study required me to read a fair chunk of scientific journals and nonfiction books, which, while relevant, were starting to become rather dry.
Coincidentally, I found $70 worth of bookstore gift cards while cleaning out my room at my parents' house, and the resolution seemed meant to be. Over the past year, these are the titles I've loved the most.
The Moth Presents: All These Wonders by Catherine Burns
My relatives gave me All These Wonders as a graduation present, filled with forty-five true stories that follow a theme of facing the unknown. (Extremely applicable for a fresh college grad.) The Moth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling, and the stories within the collection are transcribed from their original stage presentation. On average, each story is about five or six pages long. It was the perfect book to read on my lunch breaks at work; I could read several passages and not have to stop in the middle of a chapter as I would with a novel. The most fascinating part of the stories is how they're all so different. It was eye-opening to read about the life experiences of other people, and hear how varied the world can be.
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
Bonjour Tristesse is a short little book; I finished it in about a week while reading it on and off. It was unlike anything I'd ever read before. I didn't like the main character, Cécile, at all, and thought she was a selfish brat — which she definitely is, but that's the point. When discussing this story with a friend, she pointed out that the characters were what made the story so unique: none of them are likable. I'm compelled to agree; it is the faults of the characters that propel the story forward. Without spoiling the plot, Bonjour Tristesse is the story of Cécile, her father, and her father's mistress, as they begin their summer vacation on the French Riviera. Early into the getaway, a longtime friend of Cécile's mother arrives... and that is what sets events into motion. It's a good little beachside read, so keep this one in mind for your tropical vacations.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
If you're a historical fiction fan (like me), then I strongly suggest reading The Paris Wife. Set in the 1920s, this is the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. The book is told from Hadley's perspective and follows her relationship and eventual marriage to Ernest, from its early beginnings to its end. It is a bittersweet read without question; and even more so if you've read A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's memoir, because this book embellishes some of those facts. But The Paris Wife is a work of fiction, and it does not pretend to be otherwise. It is a story of love, learning to love, and how one moves forward when that love can no longer endure. (So needless to say, I totally cried at the end.)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I was unsure what the plot would be about from the description on Amazon, but The Goldfinch never disappointed me. It was captivating from the first chapter, and as the reader, I had no idea where the story would take me next; it is the type of book that plays by its own rules and sticks to them. It opens with the main character, Theo, reflecting on the untimely death of his mother, and we start from the beginning: the day of her death, the accident that caused it, and an old museum painting called "The Goldfinch," which Theo walks away with unwittingly. Everything connects back to that point, though at times, the prevalence of the painting took the backseat - and when that happened, I had to wonder how the story would come back to it. The characters, and the events that define their choices, are an intricately woven web; and it unfolds itself in a masterful way that I never would have expected.
What were some of your favorite books last year? Let me know in the comments.