Friday, 19 January 2018

Best Books of 2017

So 2017 has proved to be a weird year for my reading. I completed my Goodreads Challenge 2 weeks before the end of the year... and even then, that was dragging myself to the end. Normally I surpass my Goodreads goal by several books. This year? I'll be seriously impressed if the books I actually need to read for my degree have been read by the time this post goes live. My mental health took a huge toll in October, and nosedived from there onwards, meaning I wasn't reading for pleasure, and was seriously struggling to read for my degree, too. However, whilst this has been the case, there were a handful of books that I loved during 2017, which, naturally, I have to share with you. These were my favourite books of 2017...

1. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Oh this was soooooo good. I don't think I ever have flown through nearly 700 pages of utter wonder at such pace, and I doubt I ever will again. I, known Harry Potter obsessive, couldn't even get through Order of the Phoenix this fast. Over the course of the trilogy, I'd become so invested in these characters and this world that at every plot twist here I was left reeling, sometimes needing to put the book down for hours at a time out of sheer emotion. And, on top of everything else, it wrapped up beautifully. The perfect ending to an astonishingly good trilogy. REVIEW
Read in July

2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 
I don't think I ever expected to love Persepolis anywhere near as much as I did. The artwork isn't necessarily in a style that appeals to me, which is interesting given the graphic novel format, but the content and the story that was told mattered in my eyes so much more. Persepolis opened my eyes to a fragment of history which isn't discussed and is far from talked about, and did so from the perspective not of a wikipedia writer or history graduate, but of someone who lived through this time and can give a refreshing, eye-opening account of her life in Iran. This taught me about a time I ashamedly knew nothing about, and made me increasingly aware of this period of history, so for that I'm exceptionally grateful. 
Read in April

3. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Now, looking back nearly a year on, I find it hugely ironic that I was so reluctant to pick A Darker Shade of Magic up. It's fantasy, it's historical - both elements that prior to this I generally tended to avoid. V.E. Schwab has a way with words that is an intimate, charming magic, whispering to the reader in the same manner as wanderings of the mind. It's dark, as stated by the title, but the humour, the characters, and the emotional development that occurs over the course of the novel is striking. Also: parallel universes, magic, and a masquerade ball, how could I not love this? REVIEW
Read in February

4. The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Coming from a similar vein to Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey, which was in my 2016 favourites, it's understandable that I loved this collection. I bought this in the interval between parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child back in August, mainly for the dedication to "The Boy with the Lightning-Shaped Scar." The Princess Saves Herself in this One is a collection that will haunt me for a long time to come. It isn't the most embellished or lyrical poetry, but it packs a punch, and speaks to the soul in a way that often rendered me speechless. I loved this so much that I wrote a book review of it as part of my poetry portfolio for the first semester of my degree, that's how good this was. I will dive into this again and again, whether looking for inspiration for my own writing, or for motivation in every capacity of life. Just beautiful. 
Read in September 

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Contrary to many who read Miller's The Crucible for A Level English Literature, my final A Level text was Death of a Salesman. This play seems to generally acquire a widely mixed, mediocre response, and more people I know than don't said they hated this. Personally, I was shocked by how poignant and gently beautiful Death of a Salesman was. It isn't an easy read; it's harsh and bitter and is buckling under the pressure of post-war capitalism in 1940s America. Though the premise seems bleak and basic, this play is deep beyond face value, and I doubt I'll ever read anything quite like it again. (Not to mention the fact that I ended up with an A for A Level English Literature, which may have helped solidify and reaffirm my love for Miller's play.) REVIEW
Read in March/April

6. As I Descended by Robin Talley
Since reading The Lunar Chronicles several years ago, I've fallen deep in love with retellings. However, until reading As I Descended, I'd never read a retelling of Shakespeare, and now having done so, I can't believe I waited so long. I knew from the start that I'd love this book; Talley's debut, Lies We Tell Ourselves was one of my favourite books a few years ago, but I didn't realise just how much. As I Descended not only gives wonderful ethnic and LGBTQ+ representation (finally some accurate bisexual representation), but is incredibly chilling, creating the perfect atmosphere for a Macbeth retelling set in a Virginia private school. Please just read this!
Read in August 

7. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
This had far too many moments in it that rung eerily true of my own past experiences with anxiety, and yet was really educative on areas that I hadn't really considered before, such as selective mutism. A Quiet Kind of Thunder perfectly hits what its like to be shy and also to be scared to speak among people you're not familiar with, and it was weirdly comforting to see this from a perspective that was outside of my own head. For a while I was worried that this was going to go down the path of "your head is a mess, but don't worry, love will solve everything!" but A Quiet Kind of Thunder actively went against this. It shows and promotes that love won't solve a mental illness, it can be an added bonus on the side, but love isn't the answer - and I appreciate the distancing from traditional YA tropes there.  REVIEW
Read in April

8. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The latter quarter of 2017 brought the start of my degree majoring in English Literature, and whilst there was a heck of a lot of books I read for my modules that I sadly didn't enjoy, I really really loved J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It's problematic, and I have my qualms on every page, especially surrounding the context of the time's ideas on gender, but nonetheless, this is a wonderful tale of escapism and fantasy for any reader, regardless of this being categorised as a children's book. 
Read in October

1 comment:

  1. Oooh A Darker Shade of Magic is so good! I really want to read The Princess Saves Herself in this One because I've heard great things about it.


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