Thursday 4 January 2018

Favourite books of 2017

At first glance it would seem that 2017 was a pretty average reading year for me. My average reading month is five to six books, sometimes a lot more, sometimes a lot less. Thus I should be somewhere in the mid-sixties for my year's total and that exactly how many I read - sixty six. So number-wise, yes, very average indeed. But when I looked at my 2017 shelf on Goodreads I saw an unusual amount of four and five star ratings. Not an average year for quality it seems. And it's true, when I look back at last year I recall an awful lot of really good books. And that, surely, is what counts when reviewing a whole year of reading.

Anyway, I've picked out a few of my favourites, books worth picking up if you happen to see them... in my opinion anyway.

The Signature of all Things - Elizabeth Gilbert. Fascinating nineteenth century story of a girl growing up to be a botanist in Philadelphia

The Lost Girls - Heather Young. Gripping story of the disappearance of a child in the wilderness of Minnesota.

Jacquot and the Angel - Martin O'Brien. Daniel Jacquot investigates the murder of an entire German family in the south of France and the possible WW2 connection.

The Vault - Ruth Rendall. I didn't review this, which is a shame as it was a terrific instalment of the Wexford series involving Wexford coming out of retirement to investigate the discovery of two bodies found in the basement of a house in London. Superb.

The Caves of Perigord - Martin Walker. A piece of ancient cave art is stolen from a London auction house. Its history and movements are revealed in this excellent book which covers several timelines seamlessly.

Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny. Gamache investigates the murder of a historian in the the Literary and History Society library, run by the English community in Quebec City. Loved this to bits.

So those are my favourite fiction reads of 2017. A favourite? That's hard as they're all terrific reads. But if really pushed I would have to go for:

Because for me personally it had everything, set in France, lots of history, and a very good mystery.

Next, non-fiction.

Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister - Paula Byrne. A biography of the most charismatic of the Kennedy girls. This is well written, very readable and very informative. Loved it.

Flirting with French - William Alexander. Describes the author's agonising attempts to learn French. Hilarious and also excellent on how we learn new languages.

Waterlog - Roger Deakin. Wild swimming in the UK... but so much more in the way of history and the author's thoughts and opinions on many things.

Gardens of Stone - Stephen Brady and Michael Wright. Stephen Brady's experiences as a teenager in the French Resistance in WW2. Unputdownable

Cruel Crossing: Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees - Edward Stourton. A recounting of the bravery of resistance fighters in Belgium and France in helping allied fighters, Jews and so on to escape the Nazis across the Pyrenees. Fascinating.

My Good Life in France - Janine Marsh. Recounts how the author bought a rundown house in Northern France and assimlated into the local community. Loved it.

Jacob's Room is Full of Books - Susan Hill. A year's worth of reading by the author. I simply loved this book about books (and much more) to bits. Adored it.

I'm not going to pick a favourite from this list. I loved them all for different reasons and all deserve to be read.

So, sixty six books read, nineteen of those were non-fiction which is not bad really though I wish it were more. I probably would have to say that this year I enjoyed the non-fiction more than the fiction although it's a bit borderline. I had a 'French' year and when I counted up how many books out of the sixty six were set in France the number came to nineteen again. That included both fiction and non-fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed my foray into French culture and history and that's maybe why I look back at 2017 as an exceptional year. If 2018 is as good as 2017 reading-wise I will be a happy bunny.

Happy New Year! Read lots!!!



DesLily said...

I read 2 of those lol... Kick and Lost Girls. You read a lot! I don't know how you do it and do puzzles and all. I did that and more only 2 yrs. Since then I average between 40 and 52.. this year was the worst.. only 38. Two months I read nothing! sigh. But I did like those I read!

It seems you got into France (I can't seem to make myself leave England, Scotland and Ireland!) and I got into our American Indians. Half way through Red Cloud and stopped to crochet! duh.

Kailana said...

Looks like a great reading year and great books. I really need to read Louise Penny.

Kay said...

Nice lists! I read THE LOST GIRLS and remember liking it a lot. And then BURY YOUR DEAD - absolutely one of my favorites of the series. I loved the Quebec City setting. I'm doing a reread of the whole series on audio this year. Have barely started with the 1st one, but I'll persevere. I've been holding on to GLASS HOUSES (the newest) as a treat at the end of my rereads.

BooksPlease said...

That was a great year of reading - and so much non fiction!

Nan said...

So much fun to read. You feel the same way about Kick as I do. Such an excellent book, and heartbreaking, but really most anything about the Kennedys does break one's heart. Why did I think the Walker book was nonfiction? I was down a bit this year in my amount of books. Quite an emotional, busy time working on clearing out Tom's mother's stuff - 80 years worth. I think that's why I'm sick now - it took its toll emotionally. That's when I always get sick.

Cath said...

Pat: I loved both Kick and Lost Girls. Nice to find two books so readable and unputdownable. Yep, me France and you American Indians... so great to have a subject you want to read as much as you can about.

Kelly: Yes, you being Canadian I think you would love Penny's books. The Quebec setting's gorgeous.

Kay: It may be that your blog is where I saw Lost Girls first of all. Oh gosh, I adored Bury Your Dead, a perfect book that I didn't want to end. Must get the next in the series. It would be wonderful to listen to them all on audio I would think.

Margaret: Yes, quite pleased with the number of non-fiction books this year.

Nan: I absolutely loved Kick. Probably saw it first on your blog? To be honest, parts of the Walker book do read like non-fiction. It's packed full of history but written in a very readable way. I learnt a lot from it.

Yes, I do think when we're having a hard time emotionally we're prone to picking up illnesses. And there are so many around at the moment. I hope you feel better soon. We spent Christmas ill and are only slowly getting over it.