Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2017 Reads So Far...

The year is halfway through, and instead of waiting a full twelve months to do a book post, I thought I'd check in now and share what I've been reading since January...

I went into 2017 with a book goal of 15 books, which honestly is pretty high for me. But by about mid April I had breezed past it, and by the end of June my book tally was up to 25 books and I'm still going strong. My whole perspective on reading has changed and evolved so much over the last six months, and I'm going to try to write about that later this week or next. Reading has gone from something I would try to squeeze in for a few minutes before bed 3-4 times a week to something I crave during my day. I'm loving the change it has brought in my life, and I'm hoping to squeeze in at least 15 more books before the end of 2017! 

I'm not going to do a write up on each book here, but I will share each book title with the stars I gave it on goodreads, and if you want a more thorough review, go to my goodreads page HERE and you can read what I had to say about the book! I left written reviews for almost all of these!

So...let's begin! I'm going to list these in the order I read them:

The Mothers by Brit Bennet 4/5 stars
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner  5/5 stars
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 4/5 stars
Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs (audiobook) 3/5 stars
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley 4/5 stars 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner 4/5 stars
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid 4/5 stars overall, 5/5 for chicklit
Grownup by Gillian Flynn 3.5/5 stars
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi 4/5 stars
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (audiobook) 5/5 stars
Commonwealth by Ann Pachett 3/5 stars
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4.5/5 stars
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena 2/5 stars
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 4/5 stars
Columbine by Dave Cullen 5/5 stars
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (audiobook....highly recommend audio version!) 4.5/5 stars 
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel 3.5/5 stars
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum 4/5 stars
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 2/5 stars
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (audiobook) 3/5 stars
The Dry by Jane Harper 4/5 stars 
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 3.5/5 stars
Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook) 4/5 stars
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 5/5 stars
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins 2/5 stars

So now you're probably wondering, "Okay, this is a nice list, but Rachel...what would you recommend from this list?" And the answer in short is MOST of these! Really anything I gave 3.5-5 stars are books I'd recommend. And if we're being honest the only two books I wouldn't recommend from my list are the three books I gave two stars to. Let me break down my favorites for you...

Non Fiction:'s a  HEAVY read and it's long, but it's fantastic. One of the best nonfiction books I've ever read that wasn't a memoir. This book revealed so many truths to me about the Columbine shooting that I never knew about before. It's excellent. 
 The Sound of Gravel...I gave this one five stars for a reason. I LOVED it. This is a memoir about a woman who grew up in a polygamist compound in Mexico. I can't say enough good things. I couldn't put this book down. It's so sad but it's also powerful and inspiring. And if you do read, visit the author's webpage for more info and photos when you're done.
Bittersweet...I love Shauna Niequist after hearing her podcasts and doing her bible study this past fall, but this was my first book of hers to read. It's one of her older books, but y'all. It's great. Don't get hung up on the fact that she's a "christian author" if that's not your normal read. I think this book is great for any woman in her late 20's to late 30's. It's wonderful. Bonus points if you like food!

Fiction (non YA):
Station Eleven...disturbing in some ways, but a great story. A page turner I couldn't put down.
Small Great Things...I'm sure the written version of this is good too but the audio version is amazing. It's classic Jodi Picoult in formula, but the content is something EVERYONE needs to read. Go to goodreads and read the description of the book and I can almost guarantee you'll want to read. This is one book I've recommended to almost everyone I've talked to since reading it this year.'ll tear your heart apart but it's wonderful. An amazing piece of fiction that will haunt you and educate you.
One True Loves...if you want light and fluffy but not total brain mush, this was so fun! I loved this one!

Fiction (YA): 
The Hate U Give...possibly my favorite book I've read all year, only to be tied with The Sound of Gravel. I loved this book. It's 450+ pages but I read it in under 3 days. It is one of the most timely books I've ever read (I could say the same about Small Great Things), and it is a must read for everyone living in America today. It is YA, but don't let that stop you if you don't usually like YA. In fact, I feel like it almost had to be a YA book for the story to work. Go buy this one today if you're looking for a contemporary fiction book to get lost in. 

So....what is the best book you've read in 2017?
 Please share! I'd love to find some new reads I don't have on my list already! 


  1. This is great! I have always loved reading but have found that I'm not the best reader the older I get. It takes me awhile to get into a book and if i can't, I'll stall out on it. But if I'm hooked, I'll plow through it. Generally means I'm reading too many things at the same time.

    I just bought When Breath Becomes Air and I'm excited to read it. Was glad to see some others on here that I'd considered but may or may not try now.

  2. I desperately miss reading.... this is just a season of my life without books, sadly! One that I saw on Z's school system summer reading list that I LOVED when I read it is "Those Who Wish Me Dead" by Michael Koryta. Could not put it down. The Big Twist still blows my mind.

  3. I've read a ton this year as usual (I typically read 60-70 books a year), but a lot of it has been fluff due to post-partum (ugh). BY FAR, my favorite book of the year so far has been Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman. So much so that I read it all the way through TWICE! I never buy books and this is one I will probably buy. It is chick lit but so much more. I really loved all of Taylor Jenkins Reid's books and this kind of felt like hers but more? If you are a Pride and Prejudice fan, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld was fun, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris was dark and twisty and good, and I loved The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak. I'm reading one right now (Irena's Children) that is heartbreaking but amazing (a Polish woman in WW2 who snuck over 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto - this is a biography!). I am bad about getting onto Goodreads to update what I've read, but I do a monthly book post on my blog if you want to know more about these books or others that I've read...

  4. Also, after having read the description to Small Great Things I am intrigued (I do not like Jodi Picoult books AT ALL typically), but you have to tell me if the baby dies - I won't be able to read it if the baby dies!

  5. Just added The Sound of Gravel and Columbine to my list! I read a bunch of great books in June - Flawed and Perfect (two books) by Cecelia Ahern were great, dystopian YA novels!

  6. Station Eleven is one of my all time favorites. I think about it a lot. My sister teaches high school English in Charlotte and she read Columbine with her students this year and has been urging me to read it too. She said it was super eye-opening.

    I read Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines in May and it's wonderful too. And if you like this kind of thing, I'm a big fan of her devotional, Savor.

    If you like Taylor Jenkins Reid, I enjoyed her new one - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Quick, entertaining, good characters, and an interesting look into classic Hollywood.

    My recommendation right now is Sycamore. It's a mystery but also a coming-of-age story and a story of a town. It's sad but hopeful and I loved it!