December is coming to a close and alas, so is the 2017 reading challenge I joined, hosted by the Redolent Mermaid. During September’s update, I was doing dismally. Although I’ve since finally finished the Harry Potter series (feels), I was only halfway through the challenge goal of 24 books at 12 (Sad). Since then, I’ve picked up the pace and picked up shorter books with reduced reading segments to rally up to 20 (Yay).
Do I feel brilliant about not completing the challenge? Nope! Am I embarrassed as my chosen library profession is based upon this very aspect of life? Yep! Am I pleased I did it anyway? Delighted! Thanks to some of Julie’s inspiration and the participation of our blogging friend, Sandra, I read many excellent stories this year. Previous reviews are linked and favorites highlighted in bold:
1. Re-read a beloved book or series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Returned to this epic to remind myself where I left off before finishing the beloved series. I enjoyed the darker edge, but found a few issues, reviewed here.
2. Art and literature. Julie provided lots of options for this, as long as art was involved, it counted. I went literal, with, They Drew as they Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Musical Years The 1940s by Didier Ghez. I’m experiencing a real Walt Disney appreciation phase; his dreams, successes, failures, and creative genius are on display in this enchanting volume. For those interested in the creative process and the early artists that made Disney studios what it has become, this is a joy to read.
3. Magic. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. This light adventure take on an apprentice falling for her teacher set in a befuddling magical world was a miss for me.
4. A book gifted or loaned to you. Fail.
5. A book that has been in your TBR pile but overlooked time and again. Watership Down by Richard Adams. The type of book that causes envy when hearing others are reading for the first time because you want to experience it anew all over again. This heartwarming fable reviewed here.
6. A library find. Through the Woods, Stories by Emily Carroll. Many of my reads are library finds, but I literally did not want to put this one down as it came across my desk for a customer’s hold. Creepy graphic renderings accompany old-fashioned scary tales. More macabre than horrific.
7. A book to learn something from. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. This non-fiction exposé has acquired heavy buzz since it’s summer release. The powerful story supersedes the simpler writing. I expect a movie version at some point, it’s tragic events are too astounding to pass up, reviewed here.
8. Cool book cover art that lures you in like bait. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. An unpredictable strange tale in the steampunk genre. Automatons and clockwork technology form a futuristic-historical fiction mystery fusion. Previously reviewed.
16. The next in a series you have read. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. Utilized the print and audio versions and as I mentioned, it still took me ages but all I can think to say is, thank you Ms. Rowling.
17. A tale that takes place during a war. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Pulizer-prize deserving multiple narrative story depicting two sides of the Nazi occupation of France, the dangers of the underground resistance, the immeasurable importance of radio and the aching innocence lost by two teens caught in the middle.
18. Female heroine triumphant. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. The first in the Grishaverse trilogy I won’t be finishing. When the villain is much more interesting than the lead characters there’s an issue.
19. A European setting. Fail. #$@&%*! How?
20. Female authored. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. A sparse novel spent drifting through the young protagonist’s poverty-ridden Brooklyn summer in the 1970s. A dizzying tale with a diverse take on the unreliable narrator, lukewarmly recommended.
21. Paranormal or supernatural phenomenon. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wicker. The most thought-provoking, moving story I read in 2017 and my hands-down favorite about strangers forming vital friendships and what it means to be human. Reviewed here.
22. A book to make you belly laugh, guffaw or snort and chuckle along the way. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. This book is stunning and masterful and it really F’s with your head. Surely the best-written novel I’ve read in a year of well-written reads. I can’t quite describe it, but I rambled about it here. Listen to the audio, it features over 100 cast members led by the unrivaled Nic Offerman.
23. A book that will be a movie, you read, then watch. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. The legendary whodunit that epitomizes Christie’s methodical detective Poirot. Too many characters for some, listening to the audio helped keep it straight for me. I finished just before seeing the movie which ended quite differently. I enjoyed both, but felt more justice delivered by the film and more depth of character by the book.
24. A book with words in it. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. An ultimately feel-good generational fable about recognizing uniqueness, overcoming obstacles and creating your own miracles. Got off to a slow start and the blunt-alternating-with-profound writing style took some getting used to, but it is a worthwhile, memorable read.
Thank you readers, for sticking with my occasional long-winded reviews, I’ll strive for brevity next year. (hah) Plans are in the works for a 2018 reading challenge collaboration with The Redolent Mermaid and for goodness sake, I could use the motivation. As for 2017, I didn’t read as much as I wanted, but most of what I did was incredibly satisfying. What’s been a highlight of your reading year?