Half the year is over and I can hardly believe it! Part of me thinks the amount of time I’ve spent reading has really helped to speed things along, but pretty much everyone I’ve talked to can’t believe July is already upon us. I don’t know what their excuses are, so who can say what the real cause is?
In any event, I thought it’d be fun to bring you a look at what I’ve read so far in 2017. Specifically, I’d like to have a look at which books have stood out from the others thus far. Lately I’ve been including a favorite or two in my monthly recaps, so we’ll see if those all make it to the list. I’ll try to pick just six for now and then revisit at the end of the year to see what has changed. So, without further ado, let’s get to the list!
Disclaimer: I am not including any rereads on this list, since I’ve read some of my favorite books again this year. That just wouldn’t be fair. The books in this list are all first-time reads. If you’d like to check out some of my all-time favorites, have a look at my favorites page.
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Wild is such a treat. It will make you feel all the feelings. You will probably cry real tears at some point in this book. I am not ashamed to admit that I did! This book is powerful, real and as raw as the blisters on Strayed’s feet. This is a fantastic story of a woman who hits a dark place and decides to literally pull herself up by her boot straps. She sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and her trials and tribulations along the way are peppered with flashes back to the years ahead.
The story is gripping, moving, at times heartbreaking, but overall I found it so inspirational. Warning: After reading this you may buy a pair of hiking boots online that turn out not to fit. I did! Just go in and try them on in the store.
Probably at least one person in your life has told you to read this book by now, and if not, I’m doing it now. I think this book is essential reading, especially for women! Even if travel or adventure isn’t really your thing, this book is so much more than that.
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
So, there’s a little bit of a theme here it seems with the badass solo lady travelers. I wonder why that might be? Another nonfiction pick that reads in a very literary manner. I loved this book! I talked about it in a monthly recap as one of my favorites that month and I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I mentioned that I had actually donated a copy of this without reading it because for some reason I really thought it wasn’t going to be my bag. I have NO IDEA why. I think probably I’d seen the commercials for the movie when it came out and judged it quickly. Well, that was stupid of me. I still haven’t seen the film, but would like to.
You know what else I’d like to do? Embark on a solo trip for a year! 🙂 But really, what struck me about this book was the simple way Gilbert approached trying to find balance and fulfillment in a life. In some way, isn’t that what we’re all searching for, even if we don’t name it? So many moments resonated with me throughout this book and I know I’ll probably return to it at some point. It’s broken into small sections and the time just flies by when reading this one. Give it a try if you’re interested in travel, food, enlightenment, spirituality and the search for meaning!
I wonder if Under the Tuscan Sun is going to keep with the theme and end up on this list at the end of the year?
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling
I questioned myself when adding this one to the list. Sure, I love Harry Potter, but could this thin book of wizarding world fairy tales possibly be a favorite of the year thus far? Well, it turns out that this is another one I can’t stop thinking about. Something Rowling is SO good at is tapping into themes that are bigger than the stories themselves in engaging ways. This book is no different!
I found myself really enjoying each on a surface level. They are entertaining and cute stories, just as we’ve come to expect from Rowling. But when I took some time to journal about what I’d read, I found there was so much more buried just beneath the surface. Fairy tales and fables are often told to teach a moral or lesson and this is right in her wheelhouse. You’ll recognize themes from the Muggle fairy tales that you’re familiar with and maybe even some new ones.
I can’t recommend this one enough and I think I’ll be returning to this short collection time and time again!
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
Here’s another short collection I’ll be frequently revisiting, but for a different purpose. This is an incredible book for writers, but other creatives will find it useful, too! In fact, I’d even recommend it to those without a creative bone in their body. This book is broken into short sections and is one of the most motivating things I’ve ever read. The only times I put it down were so that I could try out some of the prompts immediately.
Most writers know the struggle of writer’s block or procrastination all too well. The lessons in this book really make you want to develop a consistent practice and it shows you just how easy it can be! I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. There is so much about writing, creating and life in general packed into its short pages.
The Fire This Time, Jesmyn Ward, various authors
This collection of work from various authors uses James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time as its jumping off point. If you haven’t read either, I highly recommend spending some time with both. There is so much to learn, experience and see through the eyes of these contributors about race, life and humanity. I loved it! There are moments that are uncomfortable, sad, hopeful and beautiful. Hearing from so many different contributors in quick succession was so refreshing and powerful.
This book definitely left me thinking about its essays and poems long after I was finished. It didn’t make me want to go trekking around the world for a year, but it did make me want to continue to stay aware of what is going on around me and, further, to continue to try to see things from perspectives that are different than my own.
A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords, which I am currently reading, might replace this on my favorites list at the end of the year…we’ll have to see. But there’s no denying how great this series is. The books are quickly becoming a favorite go-to and I’m finding so much new appreciation for the ways the show has handled the story. Let’s face it: these books are LONG. But somehow, that’s totally fine! Though they do take some time and more than a little dedication for me to complete, I don’t find the process of reading such hefty books to be grueling or a chore.
The change in view point each chapter helps to keep things engaging and fresh. Not to mention the story is just so richly detailed and the world so thoroughly fleshed out that it feels as though you are reading about real people. Though it’s detailed there are enough threads of the story that are kept mysterious to keep up some intrigue as well. I haven’t even finished the series and yet I’m already looking forward to rereading them. Is that weird?
What have your favorite books been so far this year? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned and, if so, what did you think?