My best books of 2017 (and other distinctions)
Summerlost, by Ally Condie. This is one of those books that you read as a kid and take the all the mystery, betrayal, and spookiness at face value, with only a side serving of pathos. As an adult, you read it and realize the pathos IS the book: the real mystery, betrayal, and spookiness were in our hearts the whole time.
Bears in the Streets, by Lisa Dickey. What a treat this book was! I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I enjoyed reading about somebody else having crazy travel experiences. And THIS is how you do an overt author presence in a book, people. TAKE NOTE.
Real Friends, by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. This book gave me all the feels - it broke my heart and then put it together again. My 11-year-old read it through, then turned back to the beginning and read it through again. My 8-year-old read it in one sitting. I kept sneaking away from a family dinner to read it. We all laughed (and maybe cried inside a little) at how the parents and kids in this book say and do the same things that we do as a family, for better or for worse. Shannon is all of us and this story is one of the realest things I've ever read.
And I Darken, by Kiersten White. I didn't know I needed a book with Vlad the Impaler re-imagined as a girl, but here I am, glad to have read one! This book is INTENSE and a little bit insane. I have never read a heroine (said Vlad the Impaler woman) or a setting (15th-century Ottoman Empire) quite like this one. It's a very brave undertaking for YA and for the most part, the author pulls it off brilliantly. I read the second book in this series this year as well and didn't like it quite as much, but I applaud what this series is accomplishing and I continue to be HERE for it.
13 Hours in Benghazi, by Mitchell Zuckoff. Spare and unemotional - I couldn't put it down.
The Burning Point, by Tracy McKay. You will for sure be a better person for reading this book: more empathetic, more forgiving, more service-oriented. Just MORE, and better.
Now for some fun distinctions! I look forward to doing this every year.
Most unexpectedly good book: 13 Hours (about Benghazi). I did not know that the movie (which I thought was really good!) was based on a book. And how good could the book be if I had not heard of it before the movie? Turns out, PRETTY DANG GOOD.
Most unexpectedly bad book: Flame in the Mist. I loved Ahdieh's other series about The Arabian Nights, and I was so excited to see her take on samurai. But it just wasn't good.
Longest book: Goodreads thinks it's Rasputin, but since that was a DNF, technically it's Rough Stone Rolling at 740 pages.
Most-read book: This year I re-read Rough Stone Rolling, the Grisha series, A Pair of Blue Eyes, The Book Thief, and Papa Married a Mormon.
Best bad book (a book that is vaguely trashy but fun to read): A Court of Wings and Ruin. This category needs to be named in Maas' honor because the book's cover makes me feel a little silly, but hot dang if I didn't feel all cosy every time I curled up with it to read it.
Worst good book: A Conspiracy in Belgravia (female Sherlock Holmes, book 2). I try not to think about this one too much because I think the more I think about it, the more the story will fall apart. So I just focus on the good time we had together.
Worst book I didn't finish: Rasputin. I guess I'm still waiting for that Rasputin Rough Stone Rolling, sigh.
Worst book I did finish (brought to you by The Selection series, emeritus honoree): Playing Dead, ugh.
Worst cover: Silver...stuff...WHAT IS THIS BOOK EVEN ABOUT.
Worst title: A Study in Scarlet Women. That is...not what this book is about, at all. I get wanting a tie-in to the original Sherlock books, but...no.
Best title: And I Darken + Now I Rise. Good job, Romanian poetry!
Most forgettable book: There is something fishy going on with Word By Word, a book that I really liked, but would have sworn was not called Word By Word. I can't remember what I thought it WAS called, but it was weird enough that I googled to see if the title had been changed (it hadn't). Very strange. So not forgettable as a book, exactly, but titled in a way that my mind couldn't retain.
Book that gave me the worst case of logorrhea: 13 Hours, probably. "Hey Jeremy, what part are you at? Has this happened yet? Do you think that was different in the movie? What part are you at now?"
Books in which someone is taken out behind a shed in Odessa and shot: Beyond the Call, The Long Road Home, Rose Under Fire (kind of), and The Women in the Castle.
Books in which it is specifically stated that a woman is underestimated because she is short: The Long Road Home, The Chemist, The Illuminae Files, And I Darken.
Books in which engagements with kings are made and hidden and broken: Heartless, Beauty of Darkness, Now I Rise.
Books in which a bad guy keeps a heroine's BFF alive to ensure the heroine's good behavior: Shadow & Bone, Like A River Glorious.
Books in which girls wear fancy dresses but workboots underneath: Like A River Glorious, And I Rise.
Books in which a German woman marries a Polish artist during WW2 and lives to regret it: Rose Under Fire, The Women in the Castle.
Books about Russia or pseudo-Russia: Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, The Crown's Game, The Man Without a Face, Rasputin, Bears in the Streets.
Books in which people lie but make sure to include elements of the truth so that it sounds better: all of them.