Happy New Year friends! I hope you had a great holiday and are ready to tackle 2018 with gusto! I am holiday-ed out, and ready to get back on a normal schedule again. Lazy days are great, but an excess of them is not, and I find that being lazy makes me more lazy, and that’s not a good feeling. While it’s freezing here right now, I need to get back in the habit of waking up, working out, and getting things rolling early, and I’m definitely ready. Me without exercise = sluggish and unhappy. It’s not pretty, let me tell you.
Anyway, throughout the year, I’ve been sharing some of my good reads, but I thought it would be fun to wrap things up and share my favorite books of 2017. I absolutely love my Audible membership, and recently increased the number of credits per month that I purchase, because I burn through books so quickly. I just did a count, and I’ve listened to 48 books this year! That’s almost one book a week – wow! I’ve always enjoyed reading, and since sitting down with a book isn’t always an option, Audible allows me to get my book fix while I’m on the go (which seems like almost always). This post contains some affiliate links.
Year of Yes was a relatively recent read of mine, and one that I still find myself thinking about, even after finishing it. I think in part it’s because I can relate to the author in terms of being afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying things that scare me. It’s an amazing to see the transformation that took place after deciding to say “yes” to things that scare you for a year, and I think there is something in this book for everyone.
Before We Were Yours was heartbreaking and captivating all at once, based on true events that happened at the hands of Georgia Tann (read more about her here) who operated the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, under the guise of an adoption agency, where she was actually running a black market baby adoption scheme, which amounted to stealing poor children from their families and selling them to wealthy families. This is a woman who was consulted by Eleanor Roosevelt for her work as a child advocate, and was even invited to President Truman’s inauguration, so you can imagine the level of deceit that was involved in her scheme. It sounds like a tale that is too incredible to believe, but it’s an unforgettable story that is worth reading.
You, by Caroline Kepnes is a book that I think you have to listen to, should you decide to buy it. The narration in this book sticks with me to this day, as one of the best that I’ve heard. The story is not meant for all audiences, and certainly not for kids, but it’s one that hooks you in and keeps your attention throughout. It’s a “romantic thriller” and one that has you seeing (and in some ways, appreciating), the viewpoint of the dark and snarky main character.
This review on Amazon, basically sums up how I feel about this book:
“So, all disclaimers aside, here’s the deal. I have been an Audible Editor for seven years. I listen in full to – on average – five books a month. I sample and browse countless audiobooks all day long for work. This is the BEST narration I have ever heard, bar none. Caroline Kepnes has created a narrative voice that is intriguing, full of snark, complex, uniquely dark, and incredibly intelligent (all great literary things!), but still pretty hard to get on board with. How do you root for a stalker? How do you start to care for someone who, despite his protestations in chapter two, is a complete and total f**k-up? Well, Santino Fontana’s narration gets you there. He brings this character to life – and I don’t mean that in the way all good narration brings a character to life. I mean that Fontana resurrects an impossibly irredeemable soul and makes you love him. This book is frightening, gritty, edge-of-your-seat stuff that is so much fun to listen to, and it stays with you long after you finish listening to it. It’s the perfect summer listen – don’t miss it. And don’t judge me – or yourself – for loving it!”
Lilac Girls is inspired by a true story, taking place during and after World War II. It is the story of three women whose lives become intertwined across time and continents. A New York socialite, a female German doctor and a Polish teenager working for the resistance – each one tells a story. This book was different from other historical fiction that I’ve read, in that it extends beyond the World War II, and details how the lives of these three women continued and crossed paths.
I will admit, that I was a bit of a skeptic when I listened to Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult, not sure how she would tackle a subject of race, prejudice and privilege. She articulated a volatile subject in an empathetic, candid and thought-provoking way. No matter how enlightened you think you are, this book is a thought-provoking read.
It Ends with Us is another book that will make you stop and think about another volatile issue – domestic violence. (Boy, I really need to lighten up a bit, don’t I?). It shows that a domestic violence situation is more complicated that you might think at first glance, and that it’s not as cut and dry as you might think it to be.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, is another book that I think you need to listen to in order to fully appreciate it. His voice behind the stories of his life growing up in South Africa as a biracial child make them all the more heartwarming and harrowing. On more than one occasion, I was laughing out loud, listening to him recount the stories of his childhood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is another uncovered, true story of heroism, heartbreak and grit during World War II. This excerpt from Amazon describes and captures what makes the story of Pino Lella so compelling:
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier – a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
I can only imagine how many other stories out there like this one that will never be told, let alone put into writing. This generation truly leaves me in awe.
I just wrapped up The Alice Network over the holiday break, and reveled in the story of women as spies during World War I, and how they made their contribution during a time where women were overlooked in so many other ways. I don’t know what it is about stories of spies, CIA, covert operations, etc… – they always capture my attention and I’m fascinated by their courage, composure, and ferocity in the face of unimaginable danger.
I have already downloaded some books to kick off 2018. What are your favorite books of 2017? What would you recommend that I add to my wish list?