2017 was a quite a year, to say the least. It was a stressful, crazy, just absolutely mad year, and I’m just talking about my own personal life, the real world was even crazier and even more depressing. That being said, the books that I read reflected or were influenced by the world that was 2017.
I set myself a number of reading challenges at the beginning of 2017:
- Read 50 books
- Read more diversely
- Complete Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge
- Reread the entire Harry Potter series
I did not complete the last two of these challenges. I only got to the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favourite HP novel) before bailing on the challenge. As hard as I tried, I just could not find the time or that push to finish the series before the end of the year. Time was a factor that played heavily into my reading habits, especially in the back end of 2017. I only completed 12 of the 24 Read Harder 2017 challenges. I had a set book in mind for each of the challenges, but as with the HP challenge, I just couldn’t find the time to squeeze them all in before the year ended. All of the books that I had in mind for the rest of the challenges are still books that I wish to read and will hopefully get to in 2018. (I hope.)
While I didn’t complete the last two reading challenges, I did complete the first two. Quite successfully, I think. I read a total of 94 books in 2017. Of these 94 books that I read, 76 of them were written and/or illustrated by women and 71 were written and/or illustrated by a person of colour. I definitely did a lot better in terms of reading more diversely and inclusively in 2017 than in years past and I’m going to continue with these challenges in 2018, hopefully reading even more inclusively.
My favourite books of 2017 really reflected the mindset that I was in during the year. Every one of the books I picked up offered some type of outlet for me from the world, whether that was seeking some kind of guidance or acceptance, or increasingly as the year went on, escape and comfort. For me, that’s what books have always done for me, offered me insight into the world, offered me adventure and escape, and knowledge I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t picked up that book.
So let’s get to my favourite books of 2017.
Trade Me – Courtney Milan
Trade Me was the first book that I’ve read in my 25 years that I felt truly reflected and represented in. It’s kind of crazy to say that aloud, but it’s true. I saw so many shared experiences and similarities with the main heroine, Tina Chen. I understood her struggle, her drive, and her relentless need to take care of her family, her parents, her sister, and that need/desire to forge her own individual path separate from them. The relationship that forms between Tina and Blake was an incredible driving force for this novel, both had their individual storylines that merged together to form this book and it was a brilliant and beautiful love story. I loved, loved, loved this book and cannot wait to see more of Tina and Blake’s story continue in the next book in the series.
The Fire This Time – Edited by Jesmyn Ward
Every essay in The Fire This Time, every single essay in this collection was powerful and impactful in its own way. Each essay spoke of hope and heartbreak and forced the recognition and understanding of race front and centre. The essays don’t shy away from the reality of what it is to be a person of colour, especially a Black person, living in the United States of America. It explicitly relays the subjugation, oppression, and assault against generations of African-Americans in the US. It speaks to the fact that freedom does not exist for all in the US, it never has. Daniel Jose Older articulates that truth in his words, “American equality and exceptionalism are lies” in his essay in this collection. The words from the many writers who contributed to this collection stayed with me long after I put down this book, and it will on you, too. It’s a must-read book in my opinion. If you have to pick just one book from this list to read, I’d suggest this one.
Monstress – Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
The first “season” of Monstress came to an end this year and the first 12 issues of this comic series were just spectacular, from start to finish, in so many different ways. I have loved this story that Marjorie and Sana have created through every exquisitely illustrated panel and sentence uttered by the characters that populate this series. The world that these two women have built is absolutely incredible and harrowing. I’ve hung upon every bit of the story about Maika and her search for the truth about her mother and her own history. This is a brilliant comic series and one that I will continue reading and recommending for years to come. The next “season” of this series starts in January so you’ve got time to pick up to first two volumes of the series before then.
Wrong To Need You – Alisha Rai
Wrong To Need You is the second book in the Alisha’s Forbidden Hearts series, and it’s my favourite one of the series so far. (I do highly recommend that you read the first book in the series, Hate To Want You, as well because it’s also brilliant.) Alisha is one of the best and one of my favourite romance writers. She’s brilliant and her writing is equally as brilliant. I’ve loved everything that I’ve read from her and this book is no exception to that. I loved everything about this love story that she created in this book between Sadia and Jackson. It wasn’t the smoothest of love stories but I loved that about it, it showed the pitfalls, the hardships, and the obstacles that can stand in the way of love and happiness and that they can be overcome, that happily ever afters do happen and can happen, and in a year like this one that was really needed.
Sanctuary – Rebekah Weatherspoon
Sanctuary is the second novel in Rebekah’s new Beards and Bondage series, and it just hit all the right spots for me when I needed it this year. This novel started out in heart-pounding fashion and didn’t let up from there. Most of my favourite books are books where I can connect or relate with the characters in some way, and like all the previous books I’ve already mentioned on this list, and there was an instant connection the characters of Liz and Silas is this novel. I don’t want to spoil anything about the novel, but you’ve got a strong kickass heroine in Liz, a grumpy bearded farmer in Silas, and so many puppies that you’re just going to melt.
An Extraordinary Union – Alyssa Cole
Alyssa Cole is another one of my favourite romance writers and An Extraordinary Union is a feat. I absolutely and wholeheartedly fell in love with characters of Elle and Malcolm. They were everything I hoped for as heroines, they were individuals before anything else, and I loved that. I loved that despite everything, despite the world that they lived in, they had hope for a future, a better future, a future where they could be free to be who they were and love who they desire. Seeing the two of them fall in love with one another, care for one another, fight for one another, was just magnificent. An Extraordinary Union is the first book in Alyssa’s Loyal League series, and what an amazing start.
The Last of August – Brittany Cavallaro
I definitely developed a proclivity for the second book in a series this year, and that continues with The Last of August, which is the second book in the Charlotte Holmes series. I’m a sucker for Sherlockian retellings and I love that there is increasingly more of these novels with a gender-swapped Sherlock. (Sherry Thomas’s “The Lady Sherlock” series is another great gender-swaps Sherlockian series.) I loved the pace of the novel and all the twist and turns within it. The relationship between Charlotte and Jamie are the driving force of this novel and this series for me, whether it be romantic or not, there is a foundation has been built between them and that foundation is on shaky ground at the end of this novel. I highly recommend checking out this series if you’re a fan of Sherlock.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
I read a number of different books on race this year, but this one really stuck out amongst the rest. Reni tackles race and racism with an intersectional approach, and to understand racism, all its effects and traumas, and its continued existence today, you have to have an intersectional approach. What makes this book further stand out from the rest is that Reni is a British writer and is writing about her experience with racism and sexism, and the intersection of both, in the United Kingdom, which as a Canadian/North American reader is not a viewpoint that I’ve had a chance to read often. It’s a blistering and vital book, in my opinion, and one that I think everyone should read.
Those are my favourite books of 2017. My year in reading was highly dominated by romance and I’m not sorry about that at all. Romance is where I got to not only escape and become encapsulated in the love story of two individuals, but increasingly to understand that love and overcoming heartbreak and disaster are part and parcel of life, and that having hope and believing in a better future is the greatest form of resistance there is.
What were your favourite books of 2017?
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a Happy New Year!