My best reads of 2017

Yeah, I know it’s March 2018 and I’m only just getting around to talking about my favourite reads of 2017, but you know I have a full time job and Etsy and so I don’t have as much spare time as I need. Plus who cares? No-one but me is setting the deadlines.

Last year I set myself a target of 33 books to read over the year on Goodreads’ reading challenge, but in the end I only read 24 but I choose not to care too much about that either because all that means is that I had more Etsy orders last year which is fantastic.

Out of those 33 books, I marked 13 in my book journal as being great reads, so here goes – sometimes when I look back over these I surprise myself..

January

I read three books in January and only really enjoyed one of them.

How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position by Tabish Khair
This is basically a modern comedy of errors, really good fun and the cover is larks to flash at the Daily Mail readers on the morning commute.

The worst book I read in January was one that was loaned to me by someone at work and was an anti sugar healthy eating book. Dullsville.

February

I read three books in Feb and only really enjoyed one.

The Foreshadowing – Marcus Sedgewick. Oh my that was a great book. It is written for young adults but there wasn’t anything childish about it. Really definitely recommend this one, its about a girl who suffers premonitions (its set during WW1) and no-one really believes her, its also about the limited freedom of young women of the time. I passed this one to Andy to read after me and he really enjoyed it too.

April

Oh no it took until April for me to really enjoy another book, but that was only two books so not so bad really.

The Glass Painter’s Daughter – Rachel Hore. Now this is one of those books that is passed on to you and you would never have read otherwise but it turned out to be a real page turner. Its about a woman who takes over her dying father’s stained glass business and gets a massive crush on the wrong man. Classic airport read stuff but don’t dismiss it for that, its well written and very enjoyable. The descriptions of the stained glass and processes are really evocative and beautiful.

May

The Hand that First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell. I won this book in a book swap game at the UK Bookcrossing Unconvention back whenever that was… Loved this book. Its about a woman who leaves suburbia as a very young woman looking for thrills and ends up drowning. Its all about the people she leaves behind and them remembering her life. Its such a good read, I was so glad to have read it and passed it on to someone at work and it made her cry. Sorry about the crying part but its a thrill to pass on a great book that chimes with other people too. Must read more Maggie O’Farrell.

June

Two great books in June!

Dangerious Liaisons – de Lados One of those rare books where the film adaptation stands on its own and one doesn’t spoil the other. The book of course is much more nuanced and has much more detail and depth but the film is just non-stop thrills – it’s actually my favourite film.

Mommie Dearest – Christina Crawford. Now this one I liked for all the wrong reasons. What a bitch. Poor Joanie. If ever a woman had a rough deal in life… Christina comes across as a spiteful, spoiled cow. No surprise to find she is ultimately cut out of the will. Serves her right. By the way, did you watch Feud? Wasn’t it just fabulous? I cried at the end.

July

Dead Kid Songs – Toby Litt. I am pretty sure I have read another of his books and didn’t like it so I wasn’t expecting to think much of this but I was so so wrong. Fantastic book about childhood and childhood allegiances and friendship. I loved this right up until the terribly clunky end which was crap but not so bad that the rest of the book was ruined. A close run thing though.

August

Four good books in August! No surprise that we went on holiday in August last year.

To the Edge of the Sky – Anhua Gao. Fascinating memoir of life in communist China. Not the most cheerful of poolside reading but I love books about life under communism. The unspeakable cruelty and fear, it fascinates me that people can actually want to cause that much unhappiness. Its extraordinary – what on earth do they get out of it? I know money and power and all that but really, the weight of the misery caused. Surely it isn’t worth it.

Driving Over Lemons – Chris Stewart. Great memoir about a guy who relocates to Andalucia, firstly on his own and then his wife joins him. Its so interesting, their lives are beyond grim to me but they love it. The characters in the area they live in are so colourful and all the plumbing problems and what have you they have to get over… really uplifting book in a ‘not in a million years’ type of way. When I finished reading this book I left it at the train station at Fleet and I’ve just found out its travelled on to South Africa! The person that read it after me really enjoyed it too.

The Palace of Curiosities – Rosie Garland. I definitely read this one in Bulgaria too. Pretty sure I left it in the ‘library’ at the hotel too. This is a magical realism book about a girl who is born covered in hair looking very much like a lion. She ends up being married to a sly pig of a travelling circus type and is completely taken in by him. Its about her waking up to the reality of her life and the people around her.

E is for Evidence – Sue Grafton. What do I need to say about the mighty Sue Grafton? Love these books, even though I’m only up to ‘E’ I fully intend to read the rest. They’re great light quick reads and yes I know the stories can be a bit silly but that’s a big part of their charm.

September

31 Dream Street – Lisa Jewell. Oh looks like I enjoy light reads more than I thought I did. This one is like a soap. Woman lives across the road from a shared house and becomes intrigued by the people that live there and disillusioned by her own life. It all comes right in the end.

Yarn Harlot – The Secret Life of a Knitter. You do have to be a knitter to get the most out of this book, its a riot if you are into knitting. I thought that her experiences would be somehow very different to mine because she is in America and has kids and all that but turns out there is a universal very funny truth of experience for knitters worldwide. Love her.

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