Posts tagged favorite books
Our Favorite (and Least Favorite) Reads of 2017

2017 is coming to a close and like most people, we are pausing to reflect on our favorite and least favorite reads of the year before looking toward 2018. Both of us had more good reads than bad, a lot of "meh", and a few books we reeeaallllyyyy didn't like. We're coming back with some thoughts about how we fared with our 2017 reading resolutions and some posts about starting  2018 with fresh goals and fresh stacks, but for now here is our simple list of what we loved and didn't over the last 12 months! 

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Michaela

Absolute Favorite

  1. The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet | Becky Chambers

 

Best Series

  1. Neapolitan Novels | Elena Ferrante

 

Best Classic

We're excluding my favorites that I re-read this year!

  1. A Room With A View | E. M. Forster
  2. East of Eden | John Steinbeck

 

4.5 Star Reads

These are all books that really stood out this year, books that will stick with me for a while, but not quite amazing enough to land in my top tier of mind blowing books.

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles
  2. Commonwealth | Anne Patchett
  3. Moonglow | Michael Chabon
  4. The Outsiders | S. E Hinton
  5. Cork Dork | Bianca Bosker
  6. The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman
  7. This One Summer | Mariko Tamaki
  8. Uprooted | Naomi Novik

 

Not For Me

These are the few books that I want to purge from my brain. All of these frustrated and disgusted me in different ways, but they definitely all were decidedly not for me. 

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain | Garth Stein
  2. We Were Liars | E. Lockhart
  3. A Discovery of Witches | Deborah Harkness
  4. Mr Dickens and His Carol | Samantha Silva 
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Rikki

Absolute Favorite

  1. Unbroken | Laura Hillenbrand
  2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Schaffer
  3. The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman
  4. The Giver | Lois Lowry

 

Best Series

  1. Harry Potter | J.K. Rowling

 

Best Classic

  1. The Woman in White | Wilkie Collins
  2. East of Eden | John Steinbeck

 

4.5 Star Reads

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe | Fannie Flagg
  2. 84, Charing Cross Road | Helene Hanff
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird | Harper Lee
  4. Boys in the Boat | Daniel James Brown
  5. The Hummingbird | Stephen P. Kiernan
  6. All the Light We Cannot See | Anthony Doerr
  7. A Man Called Ove | Fredrik Backman
  8. The Book Thief | Markus Zusak
  9. The Glass Castle | Jeannette Walls

 

Not For Me

  1. Anatomy of Scandal | Sarah Vaughn
  2. Two by Two | Nicholas Sparks
  3. The Lemon Orchard | Luanne Rice
  4. The Dream Keeper's Daughter | Emily Colin

 

What did you love and not love this year? We'd love to hear!

 

What Books Represent You As A Reader?
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If you ask any reader what their favorite book is, chances are they'll look aghast and insist they couldn't possibly pick just one. And it's true! Most of us have several favorites that have clung to the insides of our brains, influencing us, coloring our world, and calling us back to them across the years. That group of books, the ones that truly make our hearts flutter, are the crux of how we can look at ourselves as readers.

Often we read whatever looks interesting, whatever book is getting buzz at the moment, or things we pick up on a whim. That's absolutely legitimate and can lead to some great discoveries, but we often find ourselves a little disappointed in books we pick up because of outside pressure (it won an award, everyone is talking about it, it's been on the bestseller list for weeks, etc). I feel like a lot of my reading life is chasing that rainbow to find the next book that will make my insides squirm in the best way for years to come. Knowing your favorite books can really help you hone in on what your ideal reading life really looks like, and help you choose those kinds of books for yourself a little better.

To start thinking about this, first decide which titles have been leaping to mind the entire time you've been reading this. Although on the surface those titles may seem disparate, a little digging will likely reveal commonalities in what stands out to you in those books you loved and reveal what you are (maybe subconsciously) drawn to. Once you do start to think about different themes in books that you enjoy, you'll be able to connect the dots between the books you've read and find commonalities that you might not have noticed before.

For instance, let's start with me, why not? My little collection of favorites are:

  1. Tigana | Guy Gavriel Kay
  2. The Secret History | Donna Tartt
  3. The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Harry Potter | J. K. Rowling
  5. Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh

The links between all of my favorite novels is that they are all incredibly atmospheric, with complex, layered plots and characters that feel truly alive. My wheelhouse is generally literary fiction with a dash of fantasy and all of my favorites, though vastly different, create a really specific nostalgia-tinged mood through truly exceptional writing. Seriously, just let me go live in that feeling; I want to curl up in it and never leave. And ugh, you guys, I am truly such a sucker for gorgeous, magical writing!

Of course there are plenty of other books I truly, wholeheartedly enjoy that don't fit into this theme, like The Importance of Being Earnest, or The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet to name a couple, but these 5 are the ones that struck a harpoon in my heart and will never let me go. Knowing that they share these characteristics and getting a good read (hah!) on the moods I am drawn to in books allows me to narrow my search for new books that might really resonate with me.

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Rikki, however, is a completely different reader than I am. A look at her favorites reveals she is invested in really warm books with descriptive scenes, history, struggle and overcoming obstacles, populated with strong characters that are redemptive.

  1. Unbroken | Lauren Hillenbrand
  2. The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Schaffer
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe | Fannie Flagg
  5. The Giver | Lois Lowry

Knowing this about ourselves has been crucial in deciding which books we should be spending more time with, and helped us to clarify and seek out what appeals to us as readers. Our overlap in our books is that we both enjoy strong literary novels and well-layered prose, with extremely well done characters. There's almost always some link you can find between you and a fellow reader, even if you're reading styles are as different as ours are. You don't have to love - or hate - the same books to have good conversation, but we better understand one another based on the books we know the other person loves and why. It makes gift giving much easier, too! 

What are the common themes in your reading life? We'd love to hear about it! 

Reading Your Best Friend's Favorite Book

After a year of doing this blogging thing together, buddy reading, and having countless in depth bookish conversations, we figured it was finally time to swap favorite books. We each picked a favorite for the other to read this month, knowing we are very different readers, but also having a good grasp on the other's tastes. We're just here to share some thoughts about why we chose the book we did, and what we thought of the book given to us!

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Rikki Read...

The Secret History | Donna Tartt

What Michaela says: Out of my little list of favorite books, I chose this for Rikki because it's just the perfect fall read. It's gorgeously written, has deeply real, deeply layered characters (even if they're kind of terrible), and creates lovely, magical tension while exploring young adult relationships in a way that rings really true. Basically it's just one of the most atmospheric books I've ever read, and I just love it. I suspect the unlikable characters will be kind of a turn off for her, but I think she'll appreciate the writing and the atmosphere!

What Rikki says: From the beginning, I instantly knew why Michaela loves this book. Tartt paints a vivid scene, has great characters, and overall wraps you up in this otherwise rough story. As Michaela says, "It's very atmospheric." I can deal with hard stories, most especially when there is good writing involved, literally, I'll read anything then, but I pretty much require having some sort of redemption. I was really hoping to see something decent come from this story, but it really never happened. However, the book wrapped itself up nicely to end it and I forgave Tartt by the end, either way, I appreciated her talent for writing and the story she built here.

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Michaela Read...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Shaffer

What Rikki says: So most of my most favorites are in the historical fiction/nonfiction category, which I know Michaela simply doesn't read. While Guernsey is no different, there were much more charming elements to wrap yourself up in than others I love, hence the reason I suggested she read this one. Shaffer paints a solid picture throughout and it's overall quite warm and fun. I know she won't love it, but I also know she will appreciate the quirky characters and letter writing format.

What Michaela says: I can absolutely see why Rikki loves this one. The characters were super quirky and charming, and the small town island life community was so warm and fun. I really liked the main character's tone through her letters; it really reminded me of 84, Charing Cross Road with that blend of sass and warmth. However, it dealt a lot with what life was like for the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands and the bombings of London during WWII and I just could not deal. I really dislike war books, and that's frankly an understatement. I'm not super sure why...violence in other contexts doesn't phase me, but I just can't stand world war settings. So that fact will keep this off my favorites list, but I'm still glad I read it. This book is literally made for Rikki; I totally see why this is a favorite of hers and it provided worthwhile insight into what makes her tick as a reader.

 

Have you ever swapped favorite reads with a friend? How'd it go?