It's a snowy day here in northern New Jersey. My calendar is full of meetings, or I would be curled up on the sofa with a book, or maybe watching a movie with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Instead I made this Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili over lunch and will take a snowy walk before the sun sets.
I am late sharing my list of favorite books read last year, a list that is too good not share with you. I'm thrilled to have read so many wonderful books: from historical fiction to time travel, page-turning modern fiction to books set in cemeteries.
2018 has off to a great start too. I believe I have already read five books(!). Two lifestyle/how-to books and today I finished my third novel.... okay, back to last year. Drum roll....
Here are my favorite reads of the year:
Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders)
In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.
My thoughts: I listened to this book in March 2017. The audio quality was amazing and the story unique. It's hand down the best book I read last year.
My goodreads rating: 5 stars
Tulip Fever (Deborah Maggach)
In 1630s Amsterdam, a refined society ablaze with tulip fever.
Everywhere men are seduced by the fantastic exotic flower. But for wealthy merchant Cornelis Sandvoort yearns for an heir, but so far he and Sophia have failed to produce one. In a bid for immortality, he commissions a portrait of them both by the talented young painter Jan van Loos. But as Van Loos begins to capture Sophia's likeness on canvas, a slow passion begins to burn between the beautiful young wife and the talented artist.
As the portrait unfolds, so a slow dance is begun among the household's inhabitants. Ambitions, desires, and dreams breed a grand deception--and as the lies multiply, events move toward a thrilling and tragic climax.
My Thoughts: I read this book on my iphone, snuggled into my sleeping bag while hiking in Nepal. A page turner, I read this book in days! I kept wanting to get online to learn more, was Van Loos real? I hope this novel is made into a movie.
My goodreads rating: 5 stars
The books below were also at the top of my list.
The Jane Austen Project: England, 1815: Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. They are not what they seem, but colleagues from a technologically advanced future, posing as a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team of time travelers, their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.
My thoughts: I forgot were I discovered this book but I listened to this one last summer. If you like time travel and/or Jane Austen... you will love this book. The book is set in the past. You can smell the living conditions as they are described on the page. It's a light, fun historical novel.
The Whiskey Sea: Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope is determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.
Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, and is lured into a money-making team of rumrunners supplying alcohol to New York City speakeasies. Speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor, Frieda gets swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.
My Thoughts: I discovered this book on facebook, when someone mentioned it was their favorite book. I downloaded the book and listened to it while on vacation in September. Set close to where I am currently living, this book was a pager turner!
The Light we Lost: Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story.
Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
My Thoughts: I read this book in ONE day. A perfect summer read with a story that I haven't forgotten months later.
The Nightingale: An epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
My thoughts: This book won best book of the year in 2015 so I was late in reading this one. I happy to say I loved it - can I love a book set in wartime? Click here to read my review and three question discussion.
I would recommend any of the six mentioned in this post. Have you read any of these titles? What books were at the top of your list for 2017?
For 2018, I will be posting a monthly summary, knowing not everyone uses goodreads as a resource.
Two questions for you:
- What authors/novels are you looking forward to reading in 2018?
- I am thinking about reviving the 'books I can't wait to read' series. Would you be interested in having me share book discoveries?