My Favorite Books of 2017

December 13, 2017

The holidays can be a little bit frenetic. I get it. There’s a lot to do. But there’s a pocket of me that remembers Christmas holiday as a time of absolute magic when I curled up in my mother’s red chair and read from breakfast until bedtime. While you may not have the luxury of tuning out the world for several days back to back, I do want to list my favorite books of 2017 so you have an idea of what to turn to when you have a spare minute.

I loved A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It’s a beautifully crafted novel that is perfect to slip in your purse and read while you’re waiting for the holiday band concert. (Because, obviously, you have to get there over an hour early to even get a seat, and more likely than not, you won’t even be able to see your son playing the cello because he’ll be in the back row.)

But if you need something a little lighter, try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. In fact, this one is best as an audiobook—read by the pretty fantastic Wil Wheaton himself. Put this one on while you’re waiting in car rider line to pick up the elementary school kids before you have to rush across town to get the junior high school kids and the baby is asleep in the back. (Just make sure to turn it off before the parroting two-year-old perks up and starts learning words he should probably save until he’s an adult.)

And if you need something to absolutely sweep you off your feet, try The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. This is one you might have to fight your tweenager for, but keep it up. It’s so worth it. (And just for kicks, make up a batch of candied cranberries—yes! There is such a thing—to pop while you revel in the sweetness of the story.)

If that book wasn’t quite magic enough, try My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman. This book is the perfect balance between real and magic—it walks the line between reality and a daydream. (You can read it while the kids are watching “Elf” or the gingerbread cookies are cooling.)

But maybe you’re in the mood for a puzzle: then pick up The Unseen World by Liz Moore. Be prepared to stay up all night in your cozy socks, balancing a mug of hot cocoa. (And it’s okay if you didn’t see the end coming. Neither did I.)

And if all those can’t satisfy you, I’ve saved the best for last. While you’re waiting for the young women to get ready for caroling, stuff in as much of Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World as you can. I normally don’t go for epistolary novels, but this one is done with such finesse, you hardly notice that you’re reading letters and journal entries. (And reading about Alaska is perfect while the weather outside is, well, frightful and you’re by the fire which is, well, practically speaking, delightful.)

The truth is, books are magic. Use that magic to transport you wonderful places, so you can forget for a minute that the stockings need to be stuffed and the cards need to be sent and you need to buy gumdrops so the third grade can make gingerbread houses.

What were your favorite reads this year?

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16 Comments

  1. Kirsten

    December 13, 2017

    Chuffed to see Ready Player One on here. Just think, now you can be one of the elite that read it prior to the movie. A Gentleman in Moscow was very good and, per your recommendation, I’ve started My Grandmother…etc. keep the recommmedations coming. Hope Artemis makes the cut for next year 😉

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      I just got Artemis in the mail! Planning to take it on a certain very long plane ride in the near future.

  2. Kate

    December 13, 2017

    Great list! I loved Ready Player One and Gentleman in Moscow, and Girl Who Drank the Moon is bought but not yet read. The rest are being added to my ever-growing to-read list.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      Let me know if there’s anything I should be adding to my list.

  3. Melanie

    December 13, 2017

    To the Bright Edge of the World was my very, very favorite book last year. I’m planning to re-read it once I’ve gotten through my giant stack of library check-outs.

    I really loved H is for Hawk; the audiobook is incredible. It’s about a women working through her grief at her father’s death by training a hawk…sounds sad and boring, but it’s so beautifully contemplative and well-written. Perhaps it’s not the book for everyone, but those who like it will probably love it.

    I recently read This Must be the Place, which is one of those books I couldn’t put down but also didn’t want to end. It’s a family saga with just the right amount of quirk.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      Thanks for those two suggestions! I’ve looked them up and added them to the list!

  4. Jenny

    December 13, 2017

    Thanks for writing this! I am back in a book group again, after quite a few years without one, and am loving the experience of getting lost in a book and then getting together with everyone else who just did too. We just read The Light Between Oceans and had a good discussion. I am going to get as many books as I can from what you suggested.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      Aren’t book groups the best? Let me know if your group reads anything wonderful.

  5. Adrienne

    December 13, 2017

    You are a well-trusted book advisor, so I will add “To the Bright Edge of the World” to my already-too-long-to-read-before-I-die book list.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      It’s a book you will not regret.

  6. Marm

    December 13, 2017

    Thanks for your favorites list. This is my favorite way to get recommendations. I might add that I really enjoyed Eowyn Ivey’s, The Snow Child, even more than I liked To the Bright Edge of the World. You might enjoy it too.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      I’m so glad you could find something interesting in the list. I also adored The Snow Child — part of the reason I read To the Bright Edge of the World in the first place.

  7. Abigail

    December 13, 2017

    What a well written article! It felt totally relatable to my own hectic life and expressed exactly how I feel about the rewards of reading. I’ll definitely be saving this and making some library holds.

    • Jes Curtis

      December 14, 2017

      Nice to hear someone else is living out a life similar to mine. 🙂 I promise these books will make all that waiting and running around magical.

  8. Hildie

    December 16, 2017

    I’ve got a ton of Audible credits so I’m going to check out the audio versions of these. Thanks for the great recommendations!

    • Jes Curtis

      December 17, 2017

      I want to know which audiobooks are good!

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