Books of 2017, Part One

I listened to 15/19 of these books so that is definitely the best way for me to squeeze in reading these days!  I am so in love with audiobooks- they make menial tasks so much more exciting, listening gives me great motivation to exercise, hearing the story in my head makes the book really come alive for me, and sometimes a book provides desperately needed peace on road trips (last week I drove home from Richmond with the girls and Livvy screamed for about half of the 3 hour drive but I just tuned her out and enjoyed my book.)

1. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns - one of my favorite books ever.  This was my choice for book club and I was so pleased that everyone loved it.  It's charming and sweet, but also has some really neat insights.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter forever!  I bawl every time when Harry heads into the woods.

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - So charming.  Lighthearted and funny, but also made me want to be a kinder, more patient person.

4. America's First Daughter by Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray -  With all the hype about Alexander Hamilton I feel like Jefferson has become the bad guy, but I grew up loving him so much.  In this book Jefferson's story is told from the perspective of his daughter Patsy, which is just so fascinating.  It is historical fiction, but very well researched.

5. A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold - This is a memoir by the mother of one of the Columbine shooters.  It seems like it would be creepy, but I found her story so interesting and enlightening.

6. Black Matter by Blake Crouch - This was a real page turner; I could not wait to find out how it would end.  It's sci-fi with some pretty intense action and some language, so not my usual book but it was fun to read.

7. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins ReidThis is no great literary feat but was SO fun to read and drew me in from the first page.   On their first anniversary Emma's husband is lost in a plane crash.  Three years later, she has picked up the pieces of her life and moved back to her hometown and is now engaged when she learns that her husband has been found- alive.  She now has a husband and a fiance and lots of questions to answer.  This is the perfect summer read in my opinion.

8. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse - This was a great YA novel about the Dutch resistance during WWII.

9. I am Malala by Malala - Fascinating.  I've since watched a few interviews with Malala and she really is an amazing woman.

10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - After reading Girl in the Blue Coat I wanted to read this again.  I hadn't read it since high school and it was so much more heart-wrenching as an adult.

11. It's What I do by Lynsey Addario - This is the memoir of a conflict photographer.  She travels all over the world taking pictures in war-torn areas, and was even taken as a prisoner in Libya.  Her stories were interesting, but mostly I was fascinated by her explanation of her choice to live this dangerous life.

12. Summerlast by Ally Condie - This was a really well-written YA novel.  Cedar, her mom, and brother move to a small town soon after the tragic death of their husband/dad and son/brother.  They learn a lot about themselves, friendship, and supporting each other.  I thought this was a beautiful portrayal of grief and trying to move on after the death of a loved one.  And the characters were so real and likable.

13. The B.F.G. by Roald Dahl - We got this to listen to during all our time traveling to summer adventures.  It's not my favorite book but it's narrated by Natasha Richardson (the mom from Parent Trap) and she is fantastic.  It was so relaxing and pleasant to listen to this instead of fighting in the back seat.

14. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead - This was very unique and interesting take on the underground railroad/race relations throughout America's history.  I just wish it wasn't so depressing.  I think that was his point, but it just made me discouraged and I wish it had been a little more hopeful.

15. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan - This is a children's novel that weaved together three stories of children suffering through difficult periods in history.  It was good, but also very cheesy and all wrapped up a little too perfectly in my opinion (but I am very much alone in this opinion, it has gotten many really great reviews.)

16. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin - A good fluff read.  I always really enjoy Giffin's books when I'm actually reading them, but the stories are often a bit absurd and are quickly forgettable.

17. One Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams - I was totally into this story and dying to find out how it would be resolved...but then I got to the end and it just felt kind of dumb and pointless and wrapped up too neatly.

18. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict - This is the story of Mitza Maric, Albert Einstein's first wife who was also a physicist.  It was really an interesting book, and I especially loved the parts about her background, but when I finished and researched more I was disappointed to find that it was a very fictionalized story.  I'm sure parts were based on truth but the author definitely took a very negative view of Einstein which felt so harsh when so much of the book was not factual.

19. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi - I've read a lot of memoirs this year!  This one is from a female professor in Tehran.  Her stories were interesting but so, so wordy.  I was in the throes of newborndom and not sleeping nearly enough so I had to give up.

20. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty - I was looking for something to read before we went down to Asheville and found this little series about a girl that lives at Biltmore.  It was fine, but not good enough for me to worry about finishing when it was due back before I finished.