More 2017 reading highlights and reading plans for 2018
Happy New Year!
After I posted on my 2017 year in reading and then continued to talk about books on Twitter, I realized that my abundance of good books meant that the 17 I listed needed to be augmented. I thought about it when I was compiling the original list, but as I said to Liz, I’d be up to 30 if I didn’t stop myself. But then I thought, so what? It’s my list, it’s about what I enjoyed and what I wanted to tell people were really good books. So here are a few more:
- I listened to the audiobook of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, which I had not read in many years. Anna Massey is the narrator and she is superb. Highly recommended.
- I continued on my yearly read of Dorothy Dunnett’s Niccolo series. This year was the 3rd novel, Race of Scorpions.
- I read the novelette award shortlist nominees (except one) for the 2017 Hugos. Ursula Vernon’s entry was a worthy winner, but they were all very good.
- I read two books on the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize shortlist and enjoyed them both immensely: The Threat Level is Severe by Rowena Macdonald and Man With A Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige. They are from small presses by authors I’d never heard of before. But I’ll certainly be watching both the authors and their publishers now.
- Thanks to the PopSugar Challenge’s occasionally quirky categories, I finally read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Uncommon Reader, and Lady Susan. All three were terrific. I also reread, after many years, Barbara Pym’s A Glass of Blessings, which was as good as I remembered it to be.
- In other rereads, I returned to Dick Francis, Colin Dexter, and John le Carré (the last in preparation for reading his newest) and was reminded again at how good they are, book in and book out. They are absolutely products of their time and their treatments of women and non-white characters occasionally made me wince, but the quality of their plots, characters, and prose overrode the negatives.
- Two of the Tournament of Books summer challenge selections were books I would never have picked up because they were outside my usual wheelhouse, but they were well worth reading: Dan Chaon’s Ill Will and Samantha Schweblin’s Fever Dream.
- Janine and Kaetrin’s joint review of Mary Balogh’s Someone to Wed piqued my interest, and my hold finally came in after a few weeks. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it; I had tired of Balogh after reading so many of her books, but it’s been a couple of years and it was great to revisit her style and characters again. There’s a reason there were 90 holds on 30 copies at my library.
- I had a great time participating in Willaful’s #DecktheHarlequin challenge in December. I read ten books in total, four of them regular ebooks and six Harlequin comics.
2018 reading plans
In addition to the PopSugar, Mount TBR, and BookRiot Read Harder challenges, I’m going to read a bunch of Muriel Spark novels in honor of her 100th birthday. There are tons of events in Scotland, but I won’t be there so I’m participating in a readalong.
I’m also going to keep reading from my TBR and the Tournament of Books long and shortlists, as well as various awards lists.
In favorite authors news, I’m way behind on Sarah Morgan’s latest series and need to get caught up before her next one comes out. And Susanna Kearsley has a book out in April! Nicola Cornick published another intriguing novel in the UK last year but I don’t see a US release date, so it’s back to Book Depository for me.
I’ll keep going on the various manga series I’ve started, as well as continuing to read Harlequin comics. I even bought a subscription so that I get a new set to peruse every month. There are always a few favorite authors in the list, and I’m starting to recognize the artists too.
My reading has become pretty eclectic, or at least more varied than it was when I was primarily reading and reviewing romance. It’s definitely recharged me. I still love reading romance, but I like it as part of a balanced reading diet these days.
Love your year’s end wrap up. It is so obvious that you had a good reading year–the enthusiasm shines through.
My year was pretty good, too. I have you and Liz to thank for getting me to try literary fiction again (after years of avoiding it like the plague!). Several of those ended up on my ‘best of’ list’.
Here’s mine–these are the ones that got to me–emotionally, intellectually–usually both.
A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran. Awful title for a very gripping book by one of my only auto-buy romance author.
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner–latest in her Attolia series.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Gann. I was absolutely gripped by the subject matter.
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee Anxiously awaiting the third book to find out just how the author is going to wrap this up. Top-notch military SF
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn This is the one that I gave as a gift to my sister and several other friends. My favorite read of 2017.
Penric’s Fox and The Prisoner of Limnos–two novellas by Lois Bujold. Pure gold.
Autumn by Ali Smith and Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor–I think you are familiar with these (*g*)
Minds of Winter by Ed O’Laughlin
The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear Fabulous fantasy. First in a new trilogy set in the same general world as her previous trilogy (Range of Ghosts, etc) (but you don’t have to read the first set of books for this to make sense).
I am in awe of her imagination.
As for 2018, all I definitely have planned is to re-read the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. It has been way too long since I spent time with him.
Oooh, you had a great reading year too! I do think that mixing up genres really helps, especially today when the world is so screwed up. It’s too much to expect one genre to deliver everything.
OK, with that kind of recommendation from you, The Alice Network is definitely going on the years TBR. And I have to finish Mind of Winter, which I set aside last month for no good reason. The weather certainly suits it now.
Yes, we can experience Arctic chills along with the characters. Too bad we can’t get our hands on sealskin coats!
If I didn’t read across genres I’d go crazy! None of the mysteries I read last year blew me away, but a number of my tried and true authors put out decent books that kept me entertained. Which is all I require in a book; anything beyond that is a welcome bonus.
So many people loved that Meredith Duran book Barb mentioned–I think I may try it. I enjoyed #DecktheHarlequin even though I only read one and a half, and that’s part of what inspired me to join Wendy’s TBR Challenge this year, as well as to try the PopSugar one. I hope they help me dig around in my TBR, full of books I once wanted to read! Although at the moment I have 4 library books and more to pick up on the weekend. Oops!
My library holds list is coming in and I am equally swamped. I just finished a book I’d been waiting on for two months. Then of course I wasn’t sure I was in the mood, but as I saw the days ticking down I knew I had to read it. It was brilliant so I made the right call (Midwinter Break is the book).
The TOB shortlist is going to be the death of me; so many books, so little time. I’d only read three of the books before the shortlist announcement, and most of the books were low on my preference list. I think the TOB judges and I have pretty divergent tastes, but I’m still going to try and read a few of them before the tournament.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the Balogh Sunita! 🙂
I really did! I was much closer to your view of the novel than to Janine’s. I thought the portrayal of someone who is legitimately afraid of going out into society was well done. I say “legitimately” because all kinds of departures from then-conventional views of how women should look, act, etc. were cause for punishment or even ostracism. But mostly I just enjoyed and appreciated the relationship between the main characters. It reminded me a bit of A Summer to Remember, which I didn’t love when I first read it but which I’ve become really fond of.