As the year comes to a close, I want to share my favorite books I read this year. In 2016, I read almost nothing. When 2017 rolled around, I was determined to do better. I set a goal for 30 books and then managed to read 42!
If you want to see all the books I read, check out my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. Here were my favorites. Enjoy!
MY FAVORITE FICTION BOOK
Hands down, the winner is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. The story is told from two perspectives: a blind French girl and a German orphan boy. Their paths collide in the midst of World War II during the Nazi occupation of France. Doerr writes the most beautiful yet chilling prose I’ve ever read, and after finishing the book, it was all I could think about for weeks.
MY FAVORITE NONFICTION BOOK
While traveling to Kenya, I read Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa. Dinesen lived on a coffee farm in Kenya for 17 years, and her descriptions of the landscape, life, and culture of Kenya are imaginatively gorgeous. Her incredible writing profoundly impacted my article, Into Kenya. And yes, the title is a play on words. Unfortunately, coming from an aristocracy, her perspective can often be very imperialistic.
MY MOST CONVICTING BOOK
Sometimes, a book can be so true that it’s hard to read. 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke is one of those books. Because I enjoyed the book so much, I used it in the Sunday teen class for the entire summer! It received a mixed reaction… 🙂 You don’t have to agree with everything he writes, but that’s the point – he makes you think. My one complaint is the book read more like a collection of blog articles.
THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING BOOK
I’ve already mentioned this book in an article earlier this year, but Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert forever changed how I view creativity. From her, I learned to fall in love with my craft and do it no matter what, regardless if people see it, publish it, or pay me for it. Here’s a great quote from the book:
The whole time I was practicing to be a writer, I always had a day job…But to yell at your creativity, saying, ‘You must earn money for me!’ is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
Isn’t that quote amazing! Seriously, go read it.
MY FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK
Taking Chinese culture and myth, Grace Lin spins a charming, modern fantasy titled Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. An enchanting read with gorgeous illustrations. I almost chose The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, but in the end, Lin’s book won me over.
MY LEAST-EXPECTED FAVORITE BOOK
I started this series with low expectations. Harry Potter – you either hate it or love it, but either way, most people have intense opinions about the book. Ironically, my first memory of the library is being 6 years old and walking by a poster of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to get my library card.
I ended up reading all seven books in two weeks. And I have to say, I was not expecting to fall in love with Harry Potter. According to J.K. Rowling, the book processes one of her most haunting questions: Is there life after death?
What books did you read this year? What books were your favorite? I can’t wait to hear from you (and get more ideas for what to read next!). Tell me about your favorite books in the comments below.