Well guys. It’s that time of year when we reflect on the months gone by and see if we managed to stick to all those resolutions we made back in January when we were full of hope for the new year ahead. So I thought I’d do a bit of a recap post to wind up 2017! (Also, thanks for sticking around during my unplanned hiatus this last couple of weeks. It’s been a tough time. I love you for still being here.)
What were my 2017 goals and did I achieve/stick to them?
I made 3 bookish resolutions for 2017. They were:-
Review every book I read on Goodreads. I’m delighted to say I did this!
Read more from indie authors. Not only did I do this, I also interviewed some of those indie authors here on my blog! You can read such interviews here and here. I still have a few books from indie authors waiting on my shelf so I’m looking forward to continuing with this goal in the new year.
Read more poetry/short stories. I managed to read 8 books this year that fit into the category of poetry/short story collections. I had hoped to read one a month but it’s been an insanely busy year so I’m happy with what I did manage. And again, I have more on my shelves that I’m sure I will get to next year.
My non-bookish goal was to practise a more positive mental attitude, which I achieved by keeping a nightly gratitude journal.
What did I accomplish in 2017?
I feel like I really stepped up my bookish game this year! I started this blog, as well as a bookish twitter account (@paperbackpiano if any of you are interested). I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, having wanted to try it for the last few years but never being brave enough! I didn’t ‘win’ but I managed to write 20,000 words of a novel which is a great start. Perhaps most excitingly, I started receiving books for review directly from publishers – not many yet but it’s a start! I also conquered my anxiety to go to Nottingham and meet my bookstagram bestie!
In non-bookish terms, I worked the first six months of the year as a classroom assistant in my local primary school then got a new job where I am now a permanent member of an amazing team of people, supporting children with severe learning disabilities. I also started driving again for the first time in five years and now drive myself around confidently every day.
Finally, in between everything else, I found the time to read 110 books, which far exceeded my original target of 72. The majority of the books I read I rated 4 stars and I gave fewer 3-star ratings than I did in 2016 and more 5-star ratings too!
And now the part I know you’re all here for… my top ten reads of the year!
Top Ten Books of 2017!
I’ve listed these in the order I read them, from earliest in the year (January 2017) to the most recent. Ranking them would have been too difficult!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
This book was completely magical right from the start. It was like an old fairytale, so atmospheric. The Bear and the Nightingale was a wonderfully immersive debut and I felt completely transported. I loved the characters in this novel, especially those that were morally grey. Even minor characters felt well developed and I felt a rollercoaster of emotions towards them all. Such a magical wintery book that ticked all the boxes for me!
The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies
I really didn’t expect to love this as much as I did! The author created a fantastic story, situated perfectly in a rich, exotic setting. Every time I picked up the book, I felt transported to the tea plantation in Ceylon. The characters were wonderfully realised and I was completely gripped by the plot. I definitely recommend this one to fans of historical fiction!
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This was my first experience of Laini Taylor’s writing – and let me tell you, it certainly won’t be the last. She is a queen of words. This book had some of the best world-building I have ever encountered, as well as some of my favourite characters. I loved this whole trilogy but the first book was definitely the best.
Our Dark Duet by V. E. Schwab
This follow up to last year’s This Savage Song was just as awesome. Set six months later, it hit the ground running and never stopped. I binge-read the book in a single day, which is something I’m rarely able to do. I just adore the whole concept of this duology. It’s dark and destructive, and highlights the fantastic issue of morality. It’s action-packed, with great characters and a refreshing lack of romance. And Schwab’s writing is excellent. I hope to read her Shades of Magic series in 2018.
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
This is a surprise entry into my top ten; I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did! I was feeling burned out and looking for something light and fluffy but this was so much better than I thought it would be. I don’t know if it was just a case of perfect timing? The characters, storyline and elements of magical realism were all exactly what I was needing when I read this. I have the rest of van Praag’s books on my wishlist as a result.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
This is the third book I’ve read by Matt Haig and I will never let anyone tell me that his work is not important. His ability to capture humanity in all its glory is outstanding. There is a realness to Haig’s books that I just love and which always makes them very cathartic for me. This one was a great journey through history, filled with humour and nerdy references that made me very happy.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This book is an absolute masterpiece. Eowyn Ivey manages to transform the harsh Alaskan wilderness into a stunning winter wonderland. This is truly a book to savour for its beautiful descriptions and heartfelt story. I don’t have a bad word to say about it. It’s completely magical.
Wicked like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
The writing in this book is absolutely gorgeous, with stunning imagery and beautiful descriptions that I just wanted to curl up and live in. The whole book was literally a sensory ASSAULT but in the most amazing way. The dialogue was realistic and I was super happy not to see insta-love. Can’t wait for the second half of the duology!
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
The concept of this book is brilliantly original and the execution is just perfect. Like Hardinge’s previous book, The Lie Tree, it is quite slow-burning but the attention to detail is astonishing and it is clear that the author really researches her material extensively. I definitely want to read more of her work!
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This was my first Stiefvater and I felt nervous because her Shiver series doesn’t really appeal to me. I needn’t have worried because I absolutely loved this! The mythology, the setting, the characters… I just loved everything about this and I know for a fact I’ll be rereading it in future.
So that’s my top ten! I just realised they are all by female authors… think the men need to step it up a bit next year! Did you notice any trends in your favourite books this year?
Goals for 2018
So all that’s left to do is reveal my bookish goals for 2018. Since I like threes, I have made another 3 bookish resolutions for the new year.
Read more of the Discworld series. I started reading Pratchett a couple of years ago but dropped the ball a bit during 2017. My excuse is that I’m collecting the beautiful hardback collector’s library editions and I couldn’t really afford to buy the next one I needed in the series! Amazon gift cards received for Christmas have allowed me to remedy the situation so I will be resuming my journey through the Discworld in the new year.
Read predominantly from my own bookshelf. I have a huge backload of books that keep staring at me from my shelves and making me feel guilty (which bookworm doesn’t?) So I have decided to try and work my way through as many of them as I can. I’m not going to totally deprive myself of any new releases I’m desperate to read, but I’m making it a rule that any new books I get must be read within a month of acquiring them. Hopefully this will help to cut down the TBR shelves!
Allow myself to reread. I’m not a huge re-reader because it makes me feel guilty (see previous resolution!) However, there have been times throughout 2017 when I have really wanted to revisit a favourite book and I haven’t allowed myself to do so. I’m resolving to change this next year; those other books will all still be there afterwards. Sometimes you just need to comfort read an old favourite.
And there we have it! If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth post, I salute you. Go eat something yummy. It’s unlikely that I will get any more posts up this year so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all good health and happiness in 2018, and thank you for your continued support. I hope you’ll continue on this bookish journey with me in the new year! x