2017: A Year In Books

2017 was not the greatest year. It was a trying year for my country. 'Nuff said.  Then, between the stress of relocating across country again, and my mental health taking a nose dive into extra-ville, I think it's fair to say that my seven-year relationship's endurance was tested. I've come out of this trial-filled year with some important lessons about myself learned and with more determination to make 2018 kick ass than ever before, so every cloud does have a silver lining, I guess.

One thing that didn't suck in 2017 was that I finally got my reading mojo back! I really want to take a moment here to thank Multnomah County Library. Every city I've lived in has had a solid public library system, but it wasn't until this move to Portland this past Spring that I really embraced it. I think it's a combination of Multnomah County's great inventory, easy to find and use locations, and, probably most importantly, a stellar app that let's me place items on hold, extend holds and checkouts, and check due dates all from my phone. Also, to the awesome librarian who joined in my search for diverse children's picture books on world mythologies AND didn't judge me for getting distracted by Not Quite Narwhal, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Another big contributor to my reading mojo returning, which still wouldn't have happened without my library access, was my Nancy Drew Review project. While I've been terrible about posting updates for the NDR, I have been steadily reading my way through the original 64 books. There hasn't been a lot of rhyme or reason to the order I'm reading in, it's largely determined by what I find on the shelf at the library and which titles appeal most to me. Right now I am halfway through the NDR with 32 out of 64 books read. I've learned that it takes me almost exactly 2 hours to read one of them, making them excellent filler/reading slump books. At the moment, I need to whittle my current TBR down a bit before I check any more Nancy Drews out, I might just back in in a few weeks.

Like I said, if 2017 was only good for one thing, it was good for me falling back in love with books and reading. I completed a total of 85 books in 2017. I tracked my reading throughout the year on Goodreads, because it's easiest on the go, and the barcode scan function helps me make sure I pick the correct edition.

Towards the end of the year I started populating a spreadsheet with expanded data so I could be a total #datanerd and have all my charts and graphs. If you want a complete list of everything I read this year, check out my Goodreads: 2017 Reads Shelf.

My favorite read this year was Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popović - it was magical, has me anticipating the next in the series, and just really inspired me. My least favorite read was Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier - I was disappointed, didn't end up enjoying most of the stories, and had to make myself finish it. 

In 2018, I'm aiming for 100 books read, but I'm over feeling pressured by that goal. It'll either happen or it won't. But I do want to continue reading women, authors of color, queer authors, and works in translation (which was only 3.5% of my reading in 2017). I'm also really committing to Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge this year. 

So how was your 2017 in books? Any goals for 2018? If you want to see the books I'm especially excited about in 2018, check out my Most Anticipated Books of 2018 post. 


Most Anticipated Books Of 2018

It's a new year full of exciting new releases. Here are the titles I'm most excited about in 2018:

Neon in Daylight by Hermione Hoby - January 9th (Catapult)

"What do you get when a writer of extreme intelligence, insight, style and beauty chronicles the lives of self-absorbed hedonists--The Great Gatsby, Bright Lights, Big City, and now Neon in Daylight. Hermione Hoby paints a garish world that drew me in and held me spellbound. She is a marvel." --Ann Patchett

This one had been all over the Most Anticipated lists, and despite not seeming to be in my lane, it keeps calling to me. 

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee - January 16th (Pamela Dorman)

Sisters and mental illness are two categories I'm always drawn to and this novel has both at its heart. Might make my sister read this one with me. 

Peach by Emma Glass - January 23rd (Bloomsbury)

"Something has happened to Peach. Staggering around the town streets in the aftermath of an assault, Peach feels a trickle of blood down her legs, a lingering smell of her anonymous attacker on her skin. It hurts to walk, but she manages to make her way to her home, where she stumbles into another oddly nightmarish reality: Her parents can't seem to comprehend that anything has happened to their daughter.

The next morning, Peach tries to return to the routines of her ordinary life, going to classes, spending time with her boyfriend, Green, trying to find comfort in the thought of her upcoming departure for college. And yet, as Peach struggles through the next few days, she is stalked by the memories of her unacknowledged trauma. Sleeping is hard when she is haunted by the glimpses of that stranger's gaping mouth. Working is hard when her assailant's rancid smell still fills her nostrils. Eating is impossible when her stomach is swollen tight as a drum. Though she tries to close her eyes to what has happened, Peach at last begins to understand the drastic, gruesome action she must take."

This is going to be an emotional read. 

Brave by Rose McGowan - January 30th (HarperOne)

I feel like the Rose McGowan I had filed away from my high school years and the Rose McGowan crusading for feminism today are so different that I need to read this memoir to really understand who this woman is. If you're going to have heroines, you should know all about them, right? #metoo

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton - February 6th (Freeform)

"Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful."

Some books were just written for me. 

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara - February 6th (Ecco)

"A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and '90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning"

The gritty glamour of New York in the '80s and the club kid scene is fascinating to me. 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi - February 13th (Grove)

"An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities."

I'm so excited to read this one. I love unique points of view from narrators and with the narration shifting between Ada's personalities, this should be unreliable narrative at its finest. 

Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee, illustrated by Petra Eriksson - February 27th (Abrams)

If you want to get a taste for this one, go check out Lee's Twitter tag #bygonebadassbroads. Y'all know I get excited when history, feminism, and beautiful illustrations all come together, right?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi - March 6th (Henry Holt)

I really hope this book lives up to all of its hype. I mean, the movie is already in development and the first book in the series is still 3 months away! Sinking my teeth into 544 (!) pages of young adult fantasy debut that blends magic, West African influences, and current racial politics together is something I am truly looking forward to. 

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg - March 13th (Holt)

"Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children's stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief."

I love me a fractured, reworked, modernized, darkened, or whatever fairy tale retelling. If you never read any of Ortberg's "Children's Stories Made Horrific" at The Toast, you've got a couple of months to catch up. 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton - March 13th (Candlewick)

The cover alone would've drawn me in, but after to reading Walton's debut - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - I will literally read anything she writes. I just know that this tale of witch curses and teenage angst is going to be perfection. Sadly, I do not thing Vincent Price plays any sort of role. 

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles - March 20th (Little, Brown)

"The Hate U Give meets All American Boys in this striking and heartbreaking debut novel, commenting on current race relations in America."

Which reminds me that I need to get around to reading The Hate U Give

Macbeth by Jo Nesbø - April 10th (Hogarth)

"Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbø's Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom--a master of manipulation named Hecate--has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way."

Nesbø, one of my favorite Scandinavian crime writers, has reworked my favorite work of Shakespeare. April can't get here soon enough. 

Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht - June 12th (Tin House)

"An exhilarating page turner and perceptive coming-of-age story, Who Is Vera Kelly? introduces an original, wry and whip-smart female spy for the twenty-first century."

Yup. I'm here for that.

Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum by Jennifer O'Toole - July 3rd (Skyhorse)

"Beyond being a memoir, Autism in Heels is a love letter to all women. It's a conversation starter. A game changer. And a firsthand account of what it is to walk in Jennifer's shoes (especially those iconic red stilettos)."

This one is pretty close to home for me. I'm not sure if I'm more excited or scared to read it, honestly. 

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popović - August 21st (Katherine Tegen)

Popović's debut Wicked Like A Wildfire might be my favorite read of 2017. As much as I love discovering a great new YA series, I am super impatient when it comes to waiting on sequels. Come on, August, I need my Montenegrin witchy fix.