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First Book + Top Ten List

This year, I’ve decided to take part in Book Journey’s annual First Book event. What does this mean? Simply that a bunch of readers get together (virtually) and share what our first book of 2017 will be–and then read it, of course. Mine: Between Two Thorns, by Emma Newman. I picked it up Barnes & Noble a few months ago and haven’t gotten to it yet, and this seems like the perfect time.

As we move forward into another year of great books, I thought I’d look back at my top ten books for 2016. This year I read 60 books, and so, so many of them were amazing. It was hard to narrow down my favorites, but here they are, in order from January until now (not all of these received the full 5 stars, either; sometimes even after I rate a book, they really stick with me in ways I didn’t expect).

  • The Girl with Glass Feet, by Ali Shaw. Read in January. This was a bit of a heartbreaker to begin the year. My Goodreads review simply states: “Heartbreaking and lovely and so well written. Highly recommended.” Now, when it comes to my opinions on books, I am rarely speechless, but with this one . . . well, you simply have to read it yourself to understand. (Atlantic Books, 2009)
  • October Sky, by Homer Hickam. Read in March. I’ve watched the movie I don’t know how many times, and always loved it. There’s something about the space race that’s always fascinated me–humankind’s longing for the stars, I suppose. This book filled in some of the details left out of the movie, and was funnier than I thought it would be. More surprising, too, in that not all the drama was simply created for the silver screen. Of all the nonfiction I read this year, this was truly enjoyable. (Dell, 1999)
  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. Mandel. Read in April. There’s a reason this one stayed on the best seller lists for a while. It contains a touch of Shakespeare, a mysterious illness, a definite dystopian theme, and oddly enough, a good amount of hope. The images St. Mandel draws are fantastic, and this will quite possibly end up on my mental to-reread list. (Knopf, 2014)
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. Read in April. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Shirley Jackson since “The Lottery,” which was required reading in ninth grade. I remember hating it. Now I’d probably find something to like in it, but then . . . not so much. And Ms. Jackson did not disappoint on the creepiness factor in this one. There’s an unreliable narrator and a great mystery and a lot of distrust on all sides—and it’s great. (Penguin, 1962)
  • Soulless, by Gail Carriger. Read in May. This one has a woman born without a soul (hence the title), werewolves, and vampires, all set in Victorian London. I didn’t realize it when I picked up the book, but it was also my introduction to steampunk! For one reason or another, I hadn’t read anything in the newish genre yet, and I quite enjoyed it. I read the next two in the series, and need to catch up on the rest—and the spinoff series—this year. (Orbit, 2009)
  • The Incarnations, by Susan Barker. Read in June. Even after reading the jacket copy, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this. At times I hated it, but overall, this was amazing. Barker weaves so many stories together wonderfully, leaving enough mystery that I had to keep reading. Besides that, I never quite knew what was going to be around the corner—what era would we be in? Peasant or royalty? Sane or . . . not so much? Well worth all the accolades, but be prepared for some strangeness. (Touchstone, 2014)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling. Read in August. Need I say more? (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. Read in August. Listened to this one as an audiobook, which greatly added to the experience. With three narrators, all with amazing British accents, this book really came alive for me on a long car trip. Another case of an unreliable narrator, yet I was completely riveted. The tone was pretty dark, and of course it’s a thriller, so full of false leads and plenty of twists and turns. (The movie does it justice, too, I thought.) (Riverhead Books, 2015)
  • Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. Read in August. Everything about this was my cup of tea. The art was fun, I loved the main character, and the title . . . well, the title alone got me to pick it up, figuring it would either be cringeworthy or amazing. As it’s on this list, you can guess what I decided. The main character is a superhero who just wants to go to college and live a normal life, but that’s not going to happen. The story was a lot more nuanced about “good” and “bad” than superhero stories tend to be, too, which I quite appreciated. (Top Shelf Productions, 2014)
  • Lirael, by Garth Nix. Read in October. I have since read the next book in the Abhorsen series (titled Abhorsen, fittingly enough), but this one really sticks out for me, as it’s the book where Lirael comes into her own and begins to come to terms with the fact that she’s not like the other Clayr. She’s a strong character and I think a lot of young women could see themselves in her. Plus, there’s a talking dog. (Eos, 2001)

Time to make some reading goals for 2017.

First of all, I’d like to read more nonfiction. This year, 44 of the books I read were fiction, and only 16 were nonfiction. Second, I will continue to read graphic novels, and search out new ones. I read 10 graphic novels this year, an all-time high. Third, I need to read more books on writing, editing, and grammar. It never hurts to brush up on those skills, even when it’s literally my day job. Fourth, I will try not to worry about not reading as many books as I have in previous years. Circumstances change, and so do other time commitments.

Happy reading! Can’t wait to share more books with you in 2017.

What were your favorite books in 2016? Any goals for next year’s reading?

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