Robin Camille Davis
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Books I read in 2017

January 01, 2018

I read 22 books for pleasure in 2017. This number is below average for me, but do consider that 4 of them were dense 600+–page fantasy novels.

Bold = faves (doesn't include rereads)
* = rereads

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward, audiobook narrated by ‎Kelvin Harrison Jr.,‎ Chris Chalk, &‎ Rutina Wesley)
  • Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)*
  • Pastoralia (George Saunders)*
  • In Persuasion Nation (George Saunders)*
  • Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders)
  • My Family and Other Animals (Gerald Durrell, audiobook narrated by Hugh Bonneville)
  • The Night Manager (John le Carré)
  • Hostage (Guy Delisle)
  • Darkest Hour (Meg Cabot)*
  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Giorgio Bassani)
  • The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen)
  • Ties (Domenico Starnone)
  • Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)
  • Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Roz Chast)
  • The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass)
  • Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan):
    • The Eye of the World
    • The Great Hunt
    • The Dragon Reborn
    • The Shadow Rising
  • His Dark Materials series (Philip Pullman):
    • The Subtle Knife (audiobook, full cast)
    • The Amber Spyglass

Best book I read this year: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I picked up a promotional paperback from ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston, but it sat on my shelf, unread, until this May when I was browsing my own bookshelves for something new to read and came across it again. And I was blown away. Homegoing traces the descendants of an Asante woman from the mid-18th century to the present, between Ghana and the U.S., following their fates. It's gripping, imaginative, and touching, the kind of book that made me just stare blankly at the wall after finishing it. I'd call it a historical epic even though it's just 300 pages.

Finally reading Wheel of Time books: Max, my partner, loooves the Wheel of Time series. I finally gave it a shot after he told me that those books shaped his adolescence. I was a real skeptic, since their covers look like this and they're really long, but I got into it and powered through the first 4 books. The first few books do a great job of opening the reader's eyes to a fantasy world that is amazing and meticulously designed. Some of my favorite moments this past year involve discussing WoT with Max, who is so proud that I read multiple books. I stopped reading the series to take a break from all the dragons and magical doorways, but I might go back to book 5.

Reading by listening: At the end of 2016, I listened to my first full audiobook (The Golden Compass) and I listened to 3 more this year. The narration for Sing, Unburied, Sing is spectacular.

Shoutout to SimplyE: NYPL's ebook app is fantastic. I read The Underground Railroad and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass on my phone on a plane. I didn't even have to wait in a queue for The Underground Railroad like you have to for most bestsellers!

In an Italian mood: After rereading Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels last year, I branched out to other Italian authors: Domenico Starnone, whose novel Ties is like a single crystal of pure anger, and Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, a gentle novel of first love that feels like a memoir.

Everyone else said it was a pageturner: The Sympathizer was oddly hard for me to get through. I dipped into and out of it over a couple months, so the story was difficult for me to follow, but it was still enjoyable — the prose sparkles with humor and clever twists.

Mostly men: In 2015 and 2016, my goal was to read more books by women then by men, which I achieved those years. I vaguely had the same goal this year but wasn't intentional about it and failed miserably: only 5 of the 22 books I read were by women.

Since I began keeping track of my reads in 2009, I've read 249 books! That averages out to 27.6 books per year.

Previously: Books I read in 20162015201420132012201120102009