Books are my favorite thing to give for Christmas gifts: they’re small, easy to wrap, and infinitely enjoyable. Another thing about giving books for Christmas is that books are perennial. A title that made my favorites list last year will still be an awesome read this year.
This is a summary of my favorite books of 2017. If it managed to get into my “awesome” category, it’s here – and in no particular order.
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This list has to start with In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear. This installment about master mystery-solver Maisie Dobbs is set at the very beginning of World War II in London. Maisie and staff are searching for clues to a series of connected murders. This book is as captivating as the rest and, if you haven’t read any, it’s high time to get started.
The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff, MD. There’s a twenty-question self-assessment on page 14, and I said yes to eighteen which Orloff designates as a full-blown empath. I like Orloff’s casual writing style and down-to-earth advice.
Twenties Girl: A Novel by Sophia Kinsella. Just imagine that you’re pretending that you know how to do your job, and your recently dead (and feisty) great aunt shows up to give you fashion advice. Sounds normal, right? The whole concept is preposterous, and the story made me laugh out loud. Frivoulous, fun, fashion, London, and love – I loved it!
I love giving books as Christmas gifts because, ahem, I get to read the books before I give them. So is the case with The Secret Rooms: A True Story of A Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, and A Family Secret by Catherine Bailey. If you’re a genealogist or historian, or just plain like digging through stacks of books in the library, you will enjoy this read.
In “stating the obvious” category, there is Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by blogger, baker, and real-life butcher Cara Nicoletti. You like reading books and talking about books and cooking or eating yummy food? Definitely worth a look.
Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn. Not that long ago I reviewed “After The Golden Age” by the same author and found the quirky story delightful. I feel the same way about this novel. Nice to know those superhero genes carry on saving the day.
Second Sight by Judith Orloff, MD. The subtitle is a mouthful: an intuitive psychiatrist tells her extraordinary story and shows you how to tap your own inner wisdom. Useful in helping me understand the many ways I sense the world.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. This is terrific mystery series in the Sherlock Holmes tradition. In fact, it even features Holmes and a young, female assistant. Given the post World War I setting, there’s a twist of Maisie Dobbs but definitely more than enough to hold it’s own. I’d be happy to read many more of these.
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang. This was a Muse Monthly book of the month, and I really enjoyed the read. Loved the mix of mystical fox energy and day-to-day life in China beginning in 1908. There is food, fashion, and gorgeous descriptions of life as a fox. There’s murder, mystery, intrigue, and a heartwarming story of mother, daughter, and family.
The Lost Treerunner by Brandt Legg. My friend Amber and I have been exchanging boxes of books by mail for about twenty years. About this book she wrote, “Remember the Lost Librarian? Now I think this author is too smart.” I have to agree. The Lost Librarian was a fabulous thriller, and this carries on with thrills and chills right to the very last page. The blurb on the back says it all, “In a world of lies, how do you know if you’ve found the truth?” In The Lost Treerunner, you know the truth, then you don’t, then you think you do. A must read.
I loved Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Straford. This is historical fiction based on real people and real events, focused on a woman finding her voice and place in the world. At first I thought it was a rip off of the Maise Dobbs series because the main character is named Maisie. It’s not. This is well written, fast paced, dynamite. Highly recommended!
Brick Lane by Monica Ali. A best-seller in England, this book made me want to celebrate the indomitable human spirit and explore the immigrant experience. It’s another book triumphs the strength of powerful women and how they get that way. It’s depressing, it’s beautiful, and you should not miss it. It’s as colorful as a sari, as bitter as a cup of tea with the teabag left in far, far too long.
Fast Tract Digestion (Heartburn) by Norman Robillard. Not that long ago, I was experiencing so much heartburn at night that I’d frequently sleep in a sitting position. This book tells you why what you eat contributes to repetitive heartburn and what you can do about it. By just implementing a few simple suggestions, my nights are spent snoozing in a reclining position. Hallelujah! (And an update as of December 2017 – if only I could stick to it closer, it would *really* make a difference!)
A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell. This cozy mystery features witch and vintage boutique owner Lily Ivory trying to figure out how a rival shop owner died. The title gives you a hint, and the story weaves the details in with aplomb. Recommended.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. This is a delicate book of female friendship in two rural Chinese villages. They are bound together both as “laotong” or emotional friends, and endure many things together, including foot binding. Their lives diverge is dramatic directions, but their friendship is forever.
And finally, a book that I only just finished and isn’t on any of my Let’s Read Books through the year: Philip Pullman’s first book in the The Book of Dust series. Essentially, La Belle Sauvage is a prequel to Pullman’s classic His Dark Materials trilogy and does include beloved heroine Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon; in this book, however, Lyra is a newborn baby. The real hero is Malcolm Polstead, the innkeeper’s son.
Let’s Read Books 2017
Here is a list of the 2017 Let’s Read Books posts.