here they are. glory, glory.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
if you are looking for a wonderful new fantasy novel in your life, this. is. it. I am so impressed with what Patrick Rothfuss has done here. it’s quite a long book, and the story is told in a unique style which, if done wrong, would have allowed for dips & drags in the pacing. I found none. I read this book with such urgency, and yet I reveled in the fact that it wasn’t rushed, that it unfolded naturally. Kvothe, its main protagonist, is one of the most complex and wonderful characters I have ever met. I adore him. and on top of being a wonderfully imagined story with excellent character development and a brilliant plot, it’s beautifully written. I re-read paragraphs just to savor them.
I heard about this book from Katie at Books and Things on BookTube. I will link her channel down below; it’s wonderful, and she is lovely.
I forced The Name of the Wind onto my brother, Jake, and it became one of his favorites of all time. we have since forced it onto other members of our family, and now I force it onto you. go, read, conquer.
The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
the sequel to Chocolat. in my opinion, much better in terms of writing: the textures and scents and sounds of this book floated from its pages to me. themes of mother-daughter psychology, fear and death, Aztec mythology, magic and love. if you like Alice-Hoffman-practical-magic vibes in your books, this is for you.
I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
this year I was really into Nora Ephron films, and the fact that I could easily watch Sleepless in Seattle every. day. of my life. and never tire of it, made me feel that I should probably read some of Nora’s work. I love her. I love these books. I laughed out loud. she was an extremely interesting, hilarious, sparkling human, and I will read these books again and again.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
this is a brilliant look at village life in England, 1914. it is what it sounds like, and it evoked summer in its idyllic, slow, lazy, rambling, bee-buzzing, English countryside glory. this book manages to paint poignant pictures of human nature while flitting, butterfly-like, between several different characters, as well as looking at the village itself, almost a character in its own right. I’m not a romance-lover in general…I don’t mind it if it’s well done, but I don’t like it to interrupt or take over the story, and I’m very particular about the kind of romance I’d want to read about. this one was wonderful. the way this book dealt with war and its affect on everyday life, on ordinary people, was brilliant as well. the characters and the vivid, vivid setting from this story are still dancing in my mind. I have added Simonson’s other novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, to my to-read list on Goodreads.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
I was helplessly bound to this, as I have been helplessly bound to every Daphne du Maurier book I have ever read. I had much more of a love-hate relationship with My Cousin Rachel than I had with Jamaica Inn or Rebecca (the latter being one of my all time favorites), because Phillip, the male lead, made me absolutely furious and I despised him. (you can read the full review I did on My Cousin Rachel for more of my Phillip-driven rage)
the only thing that kept me from giving this five stars is simply my personal dislike of Philip, and since I spent much of the book being frustrated with his infuriating personality, I didn’t fall into it as easily as I fell into her other novels. Rachel is one of the more interesting characters I’ve ever read, and I would love for there to have been a sequel written from her perspective. to have witnessed such a fascinating character from the perspective of a narrow-minded idiot was maddening. but the suspense was wonderful, the mystery enticing, the psychological turmoil addictive, and the descriptions of du Maurier’s beautiful Cornwall, glorious as always. I would happily, happily, return to her world any day.
the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
I loved milk and honey, and I loved this too. it made me cry. I love the simplicity of Kaur’s writing, simplicity that cuts. I don’t think, with a poetry collection, that you get the most out of it with just one reading. I want to return to this one again this year, and will.
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
this book found me at the perfect moment–don’t you love it when that happens? when you’re blue, or in a funk, and you don’t feel like reading anything, and you shrug as you pick something up, and it shines a light into your little world, a light of laughter or deep meaning, or beautiful characters that uplift you, and at the end, you feel hopeful. sorted out. better. this is what Julie and Julia did for me. it was hilarious. honest. heart-warming and sympathetic. but it certainly wasn’t fluffy—Julie is a pissed-off and relatable narrator: endearing, yet satisfyingly realistic. this book surprised me, actually, because I tried to read it a few years ago, since I love the (Nora Ephron) film. it just wasn’t the right time. something about it just didn’t connect with me, and I abandoned it. so reading it this year also reminded me that our reading tastes and preferences, the things that resonate with us, can change over time, just like anything else. if you love food and you need a pick-me-up and a laugh, give this a go.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I hereby join Team Agatha. sign me up for all of her books, on a cozy, rainy day, with a cup of something warm. this book began an attachment to Poirot that I feel will be lifelong. and I just loved the way it was so effortless to read, everything laid out like a puzzle I didn’t have to solve, because Agatha was doing all the work, and doing it seamlessly. and it took place on a classy-as-hell cozy train, and I loved how that confined the action. I saw the film too, and it was decent, but the book–oh, the book is so much better.
Christmas at Fairacre by Miss Read
this may be cheating, but whatever. this is a collection of three longish, Christmassy short stories, and I read two of them. (I picked up this book at my library, and they ordered it in specially for me, which just felt so indulgent and nice and I am just amazed at the gloriousness that is libraries). I want to save the last story in Fairacre for next Christmas, since I enjoyed the other two so much. I absolutely loved reading these. they are British. cozy. sweet. funny. charming. and in all ways delightful. I heard about this from Kate Howe on BookTube, and I’m so glad. I love Kate Howe. go subscribe to Kate Howe. she’s lovely. I will look out for all things Miss Read in the future.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
alright, so I know this will be a bit too sweet for some readers, and I acknowledge that it is the tale of four sisters attempting to become better people based on the religious and social codes by which they live. so I can understand that it may not be for everyone. but it was for me. I absolutely loved the relationship dynamics explored in this book, the way each sister’s personality was given time and exploration, and the love and faith that pervaded the narrative all the way through. so many elements of this book resonate with me, and I love its playful yet poignant style. it’s funny and emotionally deep together. (I cried literally seven or eight times). as Dolly Parton said in Steel Magnolias: “laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” the March family gives me hope for humanity, and hope for myself. I will treasure this book always, and its sequel, Good Wives, just arrived in the post. 🙂
And now, my favorite book of the year: *squeals obnoxiously*
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
if I didn’t feel compelled to convince you to read this book, I wouldn’t say a word about it, because I cheapen it already. I cried when it was over, but it wasn’t only because of the ending. it was the beauty of the entire book, and I could feel it overflowing in my heart, like the river in the story. if you’re into:
a quirky (though I am loathe to use that word), funny, heartfelt narrator who provides unique perspective to an otherwise ordinary world, thus making the ordinary extraordinary
stories within stories
books about books
family psychology and relationship dynamics
Ireland: rain and mist, green and blue and silver, cottages and villages and hills and fields
themes of: being human, being afraid, the quest we’re all on, the affects of failure
a story that manages to be epic and deep while still keeping you cozily wrapped in comfort, and also breaking your heart, but you know it’s okay at the same time, even though you’re dead, but it’s fine (HA)
young female protagonist exploring family, grief, mental health, history and folklore, and her own identity, from the confines of a bed, with the aid of ink and paper
language that pokes fun at itself and is hilarious while being stunningly beautiful
then please go in search of this book. I might re-read it in 2018, though I have another book by Niall Williams waiting on my shelf. I thought of writing him a letter. if The Fall of Light (the one on my shelf) is as good as History of the Rain, I WILL write him a letter. and it will be pathetic.
those are my favorites from 2017, everyone! I’d love to know what yours were; tell me so in the comments.
Until next time,