What I Read In 2017

Last year, I challenged myself to read 10 'real books' in 2017. And by 'real books' I mean anything that had to do with work -  medical journals, textbooks, etc., didn't count in this total. Just plain old-fashioned reading for fun. I surprised myself that I was able to do it in addition to all of the other things I read! It was such a fun challenge, I'm going to do it again in 2018! Here are the 10 books I read last year - have you read them? 

1. All Of The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This was the first book I read in 2017- I couldn’t put it down and read it in 3 days. Then, I was so sad it was over, I read it immediately again. This book is the best I’ve read in a long time was was my favorite of 2017. Forget what you know about WW2 novels because this book defies every stereotype. Yes, there is fighting and death, but that’s not what the book is about. Doerr focuses is on the internal lives of his two main characters - a blind 14-year-old French girl and a German orphan who becomes part of the Hitler Youth. Their tales are intertwined and their paths cross in a beautiful and unexpected way.  Find the book HERE

Favorite quote: "Time is a slippery thing; lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever."

2. Animal Dreams: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

I was a huge, huge fan of The Poisonwood Bible so I was eager to dive into another of Kingsolver’s works. Animal Dreams did not disappoint, although it took me several chapters to really get into it.  But I was rewarded for my perseverance.  This book is a beautiful novel about love, forgiveness, and a woman finding her place in the world amidst all things uncertain. The main character, Codi, resonated with me so much for so many reasons. If you’ve ever wondered “what am I going to do next? what am I supposed to be doing with my life?” you will likely find this book to be a beautiful piece that sets the stage for some inner discovery. Find the book HERE

Favorite quote: "It’s one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to alway go looking for it somewhere else.”

3. About the Night by Anat Talshir  

This is a beautiful love story set in Jerusalem. Elias and Lila - star crossed lovers - embark on a 50-year forbidden romance. I must admit that I loved the historical fiction aspect of this book, but I was slightly underwhelmed overall.  It’s not a book I would pick up and read again, but it is beautifully written and attests to the true power of love. Find the book HERE

Favorite quote: “Troubles come uninvited,” the woman said, “but we have to bring happiness ourselves.”

4. Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel

Put down whatever you’re reading and read this book right now. I’m serious - this book will break your heart - in the most beautiful way possible.  Esquivel’s style is original and witty - for example, she begins each chapter with a recipe that somehow ties in to upcoming events of the chapter. It’s a love story, it’s a hate story, it’s a story about magic, food, and sensuality. More than anything, it’s about reconciling the bonds of tradition with your own needs and desires. If you read no other book this year, please read this one (says me as I emphatically press this book into your hands). Find it HERE

Favorite quote“The moment they took their first bite of the cake, everyone was flooded with a great wave of longing.”

5. Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominque Bauby 

Imagine being the editor of a glamorous european magazine; attending the hottest parties, celebrities vying for your attention, living the jet set life…until one day a stroke leaves you paralyzed, unable to talk or move- a prisoner in your own body. This true story documents the journey of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of French Elle, who in 1995, suffered a stroke that left him permanently locked inside his own body. Bauby used his eye, the only body part he can move, to blink out each chapter of this memoir. This delightful little book was sad, warm, and beautiful - Bauby writes with incredible humanity and wit. Find it HERE

Favorite quote: "Under the physical therapists gaze, I am a Tour De France long shot on the verge of pulling of a record-setting victory. Success soothes my aching muscles.  I am a phenomenal downhill skier. I can still hear the roar of the crowd on the slope and the signing of the wind in my ears. I was miles ahead of the favorites. I swear!"

6. The Martian by Andy Weir 

I loved this movie SO much (and not just because of Matt Damon!) but I still wanted to read the book after seeing it. I’m such a space geek - plus books are usually better than their movies, in my opinion. Andy Weir’s writing is wonderful - even though it got kinda technical at times he kept it attainable enough that I actually felt like I could understand some of the rocket science. Plus, he's hilariously funny. I really felt like I was right there on Mars along with Mark Watney - this was another book that I could’t put down! Even though I knew how it ended, the novel was compelling from start to finish. Read this, even if you’ve seen the movie. Find the book HERE

Favorite quote (there are SO many to choose from): "Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped."

7. Interstellar by Greg Keyes 

Ok, so this book is interesting in that it was written after the movie came out - It’s called a “novelization of the movie.” I really liked the movie (in case you didn’t know I pretty much love anything to do with space, rockets, and time travel) but at some points the movie went just a little too fast (or bent time too quickly) for me to really understand the science of what was going on. Enter this book - it’s a quite enjoyable read- definitely a great story and helps you to understand what is happening in the movie. If you liked the movie and want a more complete picture of everything that’s going on, I recommend this book. Find the book HERE

Favorite quote:  “Murphy’s Law doesn’t meant that something bad will happen. It means that whatever can happen, will happen.”

8. The Astronaut’s Wives Club by Lily Koppel  

Are you noticing a theme here? I guess my inner astronaut took over for a few months. Growing up, my favorite book (and movie) was The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe wherein he documents the 1950’s Mercury space program and its original 7 astronauts. Astro wives are tangential to Wolfe’s book, but take center stage in Koppel’s wonderful novel. Koppel, who spent a great deal of time interviewing the astronaut wives, discusses (among other things) what it was like to wait for your loved one who was on the far side of the moon, to be suddenly foisted into the mold of a perfect housewife, to have dinner with JFK while the nation watched. Told from the perspective of the women whose personal sacrifices made the US space program happen, this lovely book instantly became a favorite. I admittedly read it twice :) Find it HERE

Favorite quote“No matter what a wife had to sweep under her carpet, keeping a peaceful marriage was not just an imperative of American womanhood, but in this day when everything could be wiped out at the push of a button, a matter of national security. The seven Astrowives would show them."

9. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

 Atkinson writes about a very interesting topic - what if you could live again and again, until you got it right? In this novel, we follow Ursula Todd - every time she dies, she is born again. Each successive life is an iteration on the last, and we see how Ursula's choices affect her, those around her, and--so boldly--the fate of the 20th-century world. A very original take on an age-old thought problem. I enjoyed this read tremendously - note: don’t let the Groundhog's Day style of the first few chapters get you down. Push through and you will be rewarded with a beautiful story. Find the novel HERE

Favorite quote: "She wasn't sure whether Miss Wolf was a woman of some influence or whether she simply refused to take no for an answer. Both, perhaps."

10. All Our Waves Are Water by Jaimal Yogis 

Recommended to me by a fellow yogini, I was enamored of this book as soon as I heard the author’s name (A buddhist memoir written by a guy named Jaimal? Yogis? — for real?) Yep, thats his real name and the book is really good. Yogis, a dedicated surfer, reflects on his journey to find meaning in life through surfing, meditating, seeking, and learning. His prose is straightforward and earnest; plus each chapter is bite-size, meaning you can squeeze in a chapter while you’re on line at the grocery store. This book was a wonderful way to finish out 2017, and I look forward to reading more of Yogi’s work. Find All Our Waves Are Water HERE

Favorite quote: "One moon shines in the water everywhere," wrote Ch’an master Yung Chia. “All the reflected moons are just that one."

Last year, I challenged myself to read 10 'real books'. Just plain old-fashioned reading for fun. I surprised myself that I was able to do it in addition to all of the other things I read! It was such a fun challenge, I'm going to do it again this year! Here are the top 10 feel-good books I read last year - have you read them with your book club?