Wednesday, 3 January 2018

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

2017 was probably the year that I really rediscovered my love of reading. Moving away from university to a work based environment gave me a lot more free time for reading. That and moving to a city with an excellent public library so I've read more books this year than I expected to and spent a lot less money on them too. I read a lot of good books this year but to be honest, not that many that struck me as being amazing so it was pretty easy for me to pick out my top 10. I also discovered some new authors this year that I've fallen in love with and I can't wait to read more of their work in 2018. I've set myself my GoodReads 2018 challenge which is to read 52 books (ie a book a year). If you'd like to be my friend on GoodReads to keep up with my process here's my profile.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck by Sarah Knight
I feel like every blogger and their dug has read this book this year and well here I am jumping on the damn bandwagon. Sarah Knight's book is fun but serious at the same time and has really helped a lot of people (myself included). This book is funny and unlike anything else I've ever read. I'm not saying you should follow everything she says to a T but it's got some really great ideas and I'm very glad to have read it. 

Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel
This is a non-fiction novel about women and sport and it's totally revolutionised the way that I think about exercise. The author has spent a lot of time researching women in sport, how it is sold to us, how we view it etc and she makes some really interesting points about things that I wouldn't have considered usually. It was fantastic and something that I'd recommend to everyone - especially teenage girls. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This award-winning YA fiction novel should be going to the top of everyone's to-do list. This book follows a young girl, Starr, who is in the passenger seat of a car when the driver, her friend, is shot by the police. We follow Starr not only through her grief but also through a court trial that explores racism and police bias. It is extremely touching and totally unlike any YA book I've ever read. I cannot wait to read what Angie Thomas writes next. 

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The TV adaptation of this famous dystopian novel brought it back into circulation and I'm so glad it did because I'd have missed it otherwise. This book is set in a world where women have almost entirely become infertile, women who are still fertile are forced to become 'handmaids' who live in the houses of the wealthy and bare children. It's really dark but challenges a lot of ideas about feminism and the way we see the world. Really eye opening and definitely something I'd recommend. 

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi
Shappi Khorsandi has gained a lot of attention this year after competing in I'm A Celebrity (don't get me started about how annoyed I was she got voted off so early) but her first fiction novel is not to be forgotten. This book follows Nina, a girl in her late teens as she struggles with alcohol abuse, family drama and sexual assault. This book hits pretty hard and does not shy away from discussing problems that affect a lot of people. Despite dealing with difficult topics, the book still inserts humour, happiness and retains an overall quite light feeling. I really enjoyed it. 

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
If you've read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and enjoyed it then you need to read this book. It's about a man who starts working for this peculiar bookstore in San Francisco and he slowly begins to unravel the mystery of the place. The writing is so rich and descriptive in this book that it becomes a totally immersive reading experience. It really is quite magical. I was gutted after reading this to find out that the author had only written one book but since then he's published another book called Sourdough which I will be getting my hands on in 2018. 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
There's one word to describe this book and that word is 'EXQUISITE'. This book follows a young couple who live in a war-torn country in the Middle East (it's never mentioned by name but I think we are supposed to infer that it's Syria). Then suddenly doors start appearing over the world that transport you somewhere else in the world. And so they go through a door. This book explores what it means to be a refugee, an immigrant and what would happen if there was nothing to control mass immigration. And not only that, it is written so magically and with such richness that it is totally addictive. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah is one of my favourite stand up comedians and so I was really intrigued to read his autobiography. He grew up mixed-race in South Africa during apartheid, which is something totally incomprehensible to me. He's a fantastic writer and his stories are really interesting which makes the book impossible to put down. I think this may be the best autobiography I've ever read!

Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden
I read a lot of graphic novels in 2017. I don't normally buy them but my local library has a tonne so I was taking full advantage of that. This graphic novel is about the author's trip to Turkey, Syria and Iraq with her friends who are journalists. It talks about the people they meet but also explores what it means to be a journalist. They discuss the ethics of wanting to tell a story but understanding that more often than not stories may not be read unless manipulated to make people want to read it. I've not read a graphic novel this good since Maus. 

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been my favourite author of 2017. I read all of her books and they are absolutely amazing. She writes beautifully about Nigerian characters who lead such different lives to my own that it's really unique interesting and unlike anything else I've ever read. Half of a Yellow Sun is my favourite out of her books and follows several characters before, during and after the Nigerian Civil War (which I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I'd never even heard of). I can't wait to read what she releases next.

And so those were my favourite books from 2017! If you have any recommendations then please leave me a comment or tweet me @honestlyrussell. Wishing you all a very happy new year and I hope that many great books come your way.

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* Small disclaimer, these are all books I read in 2017, not necessarily books that were released in 2017*


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