I ended up reading 71 books in 2017 with a Goodreads goal of 75. 75 seems to be a normal and "Achievable" number for me to hit every year nowadays. That number used to be 100, but that was when I was crazy. Since I generally read a lot more during my summer break (just over two months), I can usually "Catch up" with just enough time to miss my goal. Haha. But really, this summer I read over 30 books, which is a crazy number considering that means I read 40ish books the remaining 10 months of the year. I'm working this year to make that a little more consistent, but so far, not off to a roaring start.
I DIGRESS. My 71 books read in 2017 is heavily YA skewed. I was in a mood and I didn't break out of it. I read other things, of course, but I was really focusing on reading YA off my shelves in addition to some new releases I didn't want to let pass me by. The reading from my shelves thing is something I am aiming for this year as well. Moving all of my books showed me how many I have and how many I need to read. That won't stop me from acquiring more, but it will "check" me. I also signed up for Adam's TBR Challenge as a way to get to some books I've been neglecting (and I picked the 2nd book in a few series in hopes it'll get me to finally read those as well!).
In any case, here are the highlights from 2017!
- Hunger by Roxane Gay: This is a powerful memoir about the author's struggle with food, weight, and dealing with a childhood trauma. I don't think I was prepared for how much I would relate to Gay's struggles with food, but reading her memoir got me thinking about my own struggles with food and weight gain (I was not a fat kid growing up-I was fairly thin and didn't start to actually put on a lot of weight until near the end of college). There are some truly POWERFUL passages in this book not only about food, but what it means to be a fat person. It's eye-opening and insightful and so true. You need to read it. And I need to read more by Gay in the future.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: I am so glad I read this last spring when it was just starting to blow up. And by the way, all the hype is well deserved. The Hate U Give is a YA novel that captures all of the current issues surrounding police brutality, racial profiling, BLM, and more. The conversations between characters about race and color were spot on and I wish I could convince the people who need to read this book to actually read it. The acclaim for this book is spot on and my experience with this title inspired me to read a few other YA titles in the same vein (All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely and Dear Martin by Nic Stone both spring to mind).
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I chose to reread this title the day of the Women's March in 2017. We were up north at the log house and I was upset about not being able to go march (I was also pregnant and Matt was worried about me being out in the cold for so long-truthfully, the trip was better, especially as I miscarried just a week or two later). See me digressing again? Anyway, rereading was perfect timing. It got me inspired and riled up and that mood lasted for all of 2017 (and even to this day). I still haven't watched the mini-series, but need to.
- The March Trilogy by John Lewis: Another title meant to get me inspired and politically motivated, the March trilogy was the perfect read over Memorial Day weekend. It's a graphic novel trilogy told from the POV of a young John Lewis (current U.S. Congressman). It stunningly depicts his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, from early sit-ins, to arrests, to meeting MLK, to the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. The artwork is gorgeous and powerful and the set I keep in my classroom is always checked out! I'm working on a grant to get a classroom set to read with my APUSH students after their test, but we'll see how that goes!
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: My sister was bugging me to read this for ages, and I finally caved. It's a fun, nerdy romp through video games and 80s pop culture that I didn't know I needed to read until I started it. The worldbuilding is fantastic and crisp, and the action never lets up. I'm pretty sure I yelled at Matt numerous times while reading it to leave me alone. I think the concept is pretty original and can't wait for the film to come out!
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit: A series of essays that capture the experiences of being female in the modern world, and told in a way that is straightforward and factual. The most well-known essay in the book, about the concept of "mansplaining" was so spot on that my copy is highlighted and annotated to the heavens. There are other excellent essays, including one on rape and rape culture that shook me. I think it's a great look at modern day women's issues, and one that had me reevaluating my own feminism and beliefs.
- A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas: I've been a fan of Maas' other series (Throne of Glass) for a couple years, and while I purchased this trilogy while it was being published, I had been putting it off. Well, I finally sank into the trilogy over the summer and inhaled all 3 books in a span of 4 days (put me into major book hangover). While not the most inspiring, life-changing books I've ever read, they delivered exactly what they were meant to be-YA fantasy. They were fun. They gave me all the feels. The world building was excellent. I binged on them. They were what I needed at the time and have sold me on buying everything Maas publishes because I know I'll enjoy it. Sometimes you need that.
- More Happy Than Not, History is all you Left Me, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: I'm not even sure where I first heard of Adam Silvera, but as soon as I read a synopsis of his first book, More Happy Than Not, I knew he was an author I needed to read. I ended up purchasing everything he's published to date (those 3 titles), and I flew through them in just a few weeks. Let me tell you: Adam Silvera is a force to be reckoned with in YA lit, especially when it comes to LGBTQ titles. I was blown away by the depth of his writing! More Happy Than Not, my first read from him, remains my favorite, but They Both Die at the End is a very close second. He's another author that I will buy and read all of his books because he's just that good.
- The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Speaking of authors whose work I purchase automatically, let's talk about Saenz. I read Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood way back in college for a YA course and was blown away. I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and fell in love (seriously, all the happy tears). This title was no exception. Saenz definitely has his own lyrical style of writing, but you can fully sink into it. I think of his writing as being a bit more...mature? than some other YA writers. And I love it.
I think that about rounds it up. Overall, 2017 was a great year for reading. I binged on some great series (I totally didn't mention that I read a ton of Rick Riordan-essentially everything that I hadn't read by him...) and read from my shelves pretty heavily. However, I only read a few classics and want to change that for 2018.
Have any recommendations for me? Leave them below!