For The Love Of Books | 2017 Reading Recap & 2018 Plans

Happy New Year! 

On the first of each month in 2017 I've been sharing what I read the month before and the books I've selected for the upcoming month to read from Book Of The Month. I read 37 books in 2017 and that makes me so, so happy. I can't remember the last time I read that many books in one year. I'm planning to continue sharing what I'm reading and selecting here on my blog throughout 2018. 

One of my personal reading goals this year is to read a few more non-fiction books ( I want to create "space" for more reading/learning). I have so many non-fiction books that I've purchased over the last few years (some that I've started and never finished) and I want to incorporate more of those into my reading time this year. I'd like to read at least one of those per month in 2018 and I'm planning to not buy any new ones until I read these. 

Here's my list of non-fiction books that I already own that I'd love to get read this year: 

Today is January 1, 2018 which means that  Book Of The Month has released their selections for this month. I selected Two Girls Down and The Woman In The Window. I've got a little getaway planned later this month so I'm saving these two for that trip. 

I'm looking forward to another year of sharing book ideas and book selections with you! Happy reading!


READ IN 2017

NOTE: (BOTM) means the book came from the Book Of the Month Club

JANUARY

  • You Will Know Me (BOTM) // First book from BOTM. Read it in a day and a half (suspense). Enjoyed. 
  • Lucky You (BOTM) // I remember liking this one as I was reading it but to be honest I can barely remember it now. This is why I'm trying to remember to post some short thoughts on Instagram when I finish each one. 

FEBRUARY

  • Behind Her Eyes (BOTM) // Suspense. Crazy twist. Enjoyed. 
  • Perfect Little World (BOTM) // Vacation read. Liked the change of pace on this one (had been reading more suspense). This one was a sweet little story with topics of motherhood and family and tribes of people and how things change. 
  • What Alice Forgot (Kindle) // Vacation read. Totally enjoyed this story and imagining what it would be like to experience memory loss in this way. Not suspense.   

MARCH

  • The Twilight Wife // Aaron picked this one out at Target to read while we were on vacation and I read it when he was done. I thought this one was okay - probably had something to do with the fact that I read What Alice Forgot right before this one and they both deal with memory loss (this one is more suspense).
  • The Stranger In The Woods (BOTM) // Non-fiction. This true story about a man living in the woods of Maine for almost 30 years read like a long-form magazine article. I enjoyed the break from the fiction I've been reading. 
  • Exit West (BOTM) // This one was a lot different from what I've been reading and I appreciated it for that. Different kind of narrator (omniscient) and subject matter (refugees). Glad I read it. 
  • Marlena (BOTM) // Gave this one three stars on Goodreads. I'm going to go with "like" but not "love" on this one. I kinda think, after finishing it, that it might be one that will pop up in my mind as I go about my days (so maybe it should get a better review). I enjoyed the story and she used a few writing techniques that I really liked. Sometimes it felt slow and I just wanted her to get on with the story :).
  • Pachinko (BOTM) // Seriously loved this one and am super glad I picked it up again after putting it down before our Mexico trip. Epic generational tale of Koreans living in Japan (really loved learning more about that). 

APRIL

  • Good As Gone (Kindle) // Definitely stayed interested and engaged with the story and wanted to know what was going to happen. As others have mentioned, the beginning felt stronger than the end. Felt like the author had a unique voice. Glad I read it. Three stars. 
  • American War (BOTM) // This book took me longer to read than others recently and sometimes I would forget that it was a future US civil war vs. the past civil war and I wondered more than once where in the world the story was actually heading (and was it actually heading anywhere)? There were days where I felt like I was making myself read it - which I don't always don - but for some reason I wanted to keep reading. There was a certain point in this book, probably more than halfway through the story, where I realized that this was an exceptional book. I finished it today and I think it's one of the best books I've read in awhile. I found the author to be an extremely sophisticated writer/storyteller who was very purposeful and deliberate with his prose - I can't remember the last time I really felt that way about the words I was reading on the page.
  • Into The Water (BOTM) // A super fast, page-turning read for me. At first I felt like it was hard to keep up with all the different narrators but as I got more into it I was able to keep all the characters straight (it was one of those where I needed to keep flipping back and forth to remember who was who). Definitely enjoyed for a quick read! 

MAY

  • Since We Fell (BOTM) // Totally enjoyed this one. Kept my interest with it's twists and definitely wanted to know what was going to happen in the end. As you might tell from most of my reviews, I'm not a super critical reader. If I like it, I like it and I liked this one.
  • Woman No. 17 (BOTM) // This one was a just-okay for me where I definitely felt like I was making myself finish it. 
  • Small Great Things (Kindle) // So, so good. Hard and thought-provoking and worth it. Definitely my favorite of the month. 
  • The Butterfly Hours: Transforming Memories Into Memoir //Picked this one up randomly at a bookstore. I'm always attracted to books about memoir writing (totally in alignment with my memory keeping endeavors) and this one really filled me up these last few weeks as I was working on some new classroom content. Patty Dann also loves to use one word jumping off points to pull stories from our memories/prompt us to tell more (similar to my 31 Things and 31 More Things workshops) so I loved checking out her writing style and reading her stories. I loved how her writing is fact based but conveys so much meaning and feeling just via the ways she chooses to construct her sentences. Quick and easy read.

JUNE

  • The Sisters Chase (BOTM) // Loved the story and the characters. 
  • Chemistry (BOTM) // I really enjoyed the totally different writing style - basically it's written in snippets of thoughts/memories/etc. Being introduced to different writing styles is definitely one of the things I'm loving from reading so many books right now. I really liked the micro-story approach (a lot like what we do with memory keeping) and I also really liked the weaving of science/chemistry in with the lessons of life and love and moving forward. Super quick read. 
  • This Is How It Always Is // Jessica Turner told me I had to read this one next so it jumped to the top of my list after I finished Chemistry. This book was amazing. Basically I feel a whole lot of love for this story. For the characters, for the message of acceptance and inclusion, for the nuances of the middle-path. Highly recommended.

JULY 

  • Final Girls (BOTM) // Great quick mystery. Totally waned to know what happened in the end. 

AUGUST

  • The Blinds (BOTM) // Really ended up enjoying this one. 
  • All The Ugly And Wonderful Things (Kindle) // This is one of those ones that was recommended by quite a few people. Brutal. Honest. Challenging. Loved it.

SEPTEMBER

  • 10% Happier // I devoured this book in just a couple sittings. Loved reading about his experience and his perspective as he learned - I laughed out loud a bunch and read passages to Aaron. Loved his honesty and his ability to change his mind about things/people he had initially been judgmental about. It was a good jumpstart for me as I'm getting started cultivating my own meditation practice.
  • Emma In The Night (BOTM) // Thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns and it definitely kept me interested in wanting to know what in the heck actually happened. I definitely love a good mystery and this one gave me what I wanted!
  • Little Fires Everywhere (BOTM) // My main criteria for enjoyment right now is basically this: do I think about the book during the day and look forward to reading it at night? That totally was the case with this story. Motherhood, art, family dynamics, love, loss - it was all there and weaved together nicely.
  • Braving The Wilderness // This is a timely book and a quick read and something I know I will return to again and again in terms of living in alignment with my personal values. 
  • Sing, Unburied Sing (BOTM) // Finished this one last night. I found this one hard to get into in a good way - I'm challenged by the author's writing style in the way that I remember being challenged by important writers I read in high school and college. Her words are powerful and lyrical and I'm glad I took the time to read it. 

OCTOBER

  • Startup // A fairly quick read. I can't remember reading another book recently that was so full of the technology of today. Definitely interesting overall but I felt like it ended quickly. 
  • Beasts Of Extraordinary Circumstances (BOTM) // I can’t remember the last time I read a book like this - it just thoroughly delighted me. I really enjoyed her writing style - especially noticing some of her word combinations. Loved the magic, loved a bunch of the chapters, and loved the way it was told through reach of their perspectives.
  • What Made Maddy Run (Non-Fiction)  // I first heard about this book on the "Feel Good Effect Podcast" where the author spoke about a bunch of different topics related to the heartbreaking story of the life of Madison Holleran: social media, perfectionism, college athletics, depression & anxiety, suicide, and transitions (among other things). This book totally made me think about all of those pieces in a variety of different ways. It made me think back to my own experience as a Division 1 athlete (swimming) and my transition from home to freshman year of college and how utterly exhausted I was which led me to quit after my freshman year (and how crazy my life was that first year of freedom with athletics, academics, and social stuff). It made me think about my own periods of anxiety and depression throughout my life - and mental health in general - and that very fine line between being okay and not being okay. It also really made me take a closer look at my own experience with social media and ask myself some hard questions about my own personal "whys" in terms of how our stories are told. I really enjoyed Kate Fagan's discussions regarding this topic and am interested in reading more. I think this is a super important read especially for parents and for student athletes - for awareness and compassion and a very hard look at the expectations we place on ourselves and others.

NOVEMBER

  • Sleeping Beauties (BOTM) // Enjoyed it. Took me a long time to get through just due to the sheer number of pages. I didn't love it but I definitely liked it and wanted to know how it was all going to shake out in the end.
  • The Rules Of Magic (BOTM) // Totally enjoyed this book. I hadn't read Practical Magic so the entire story was new to me (I don't feel like it mattered at all that I read this one first - I ended up reading Practical Magic after I finished this one) and I'm so glad this was my Book Of The Month pick. Reading this one made me want to read more by Alice Hoffman (this was my first).
  • Practical Magic // I ended up reading this one after reading The Rules Of Magic. It was interesting to read them out of the order they were written - I totally felt that The Rules Of Magic was a "stronger" book overall and I was more captivated by it. No idea if that would have been the case if I would have read them in the other order, but I'm super happy to have read both of them. If I could only read one it would be The Rules Of Magic.
  • Castle Of Water // I added this to my Kindle this month after reading a review from a friend who said to drop everything and read it now. After finishing a couple other books this month I started this one and didn't really have any idea what it was about or what was going to happen. I loved it.

DECEMBER

  • The Wife Between Us (BOTM) // Quick read - definitely wanted to know how it was all going to end. I didn't love it but it definitely met my general criteria for this genre of book.
  • Silence: In The Age Of Noise by Erling Kagge // This is a super quick non-fiction read about silence. I totally enjoyed it and it's really relevant to my One Little Word® selection for 2018 (space). 

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11 thoughts

  1. lizness says…
    01/01/2018

    Ooo! The Power of Meaning sounds great! I may have to check that out. Also, I'm not sure if you have room for recommendations, but I highly recommend these three:
    - Accidental Creative (Todd Henry)
    - Designing Your Life (Burnett & Evans)
    - The Book that Takes Its Time (Smit & Hulst)

    Happy reading and Happy New Year!
    - Liz

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. gina200 says…
    01/02/2018

    Ali I love reading these posts each month. Thanks for doing them. I have noticed you are pretty good about reading non-fiction. I keep buying or borrowing non-fiction and just don't get through them or sometimes don't even start them even though I want to. I like your goal of one a month. I might have to try that. Maybe I'll start with one every two months. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Sunshine2349 says…
    01/02/2018

    Love your book posts! Thanks for the inspiration as a result last year I set a read 2 books per month goal and ended up reading 25! The majority were nonfiction. Set same goal this year so appreciate your blog posts. Happy New Year!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. SarahGiles says…
    01/02/2018

    I love this post. Six of those books have jumped straight into my Amazon basket (three I have already). I especially appreciate a list with so many non-fiction books included - I am a big reader of non-fiction, especially writing and self-help type titles, and love to see recommendations. Thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. CraftyCat says…
    01/02/2018

    Ali I'm a reader too and have read over 55 books this year. I still need to finalize my list and count. I purchased two of these books from your list on my Kindle and placed 8 of them on my library list for the year. Thanks for offering your list and comments on what you've read!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Afink26 says…
    01/04/2018

    Start With Why is on my TBR this year as well. I'm working on a long-range goal of a business start up and this is in my stack of reading for that. I loved the Start With Why TED Talk and can't wait to dig in to this one.

    The Girl in the Window is my January pick as well--should be here tomorrow!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. jgoldfinch says…
    01/04/2018

    Ali, I really slowed down with my reading through BOTM, but still managed to order 3 books a month! I looked at my BOTM bookshelf and need to review 14 books. Despite the backlog, I just picked one out last night and started reading “Eleanor Oliphant”. I’m really enjoying it, but not recommending it to you because you have plenty on your reading list already. Anyway, although I’m a little long-winded, I just wanted to thank you again for recommending BOTM, reviewing your books and listing the books you want to read for 2018. I see some I might want to read and am always interested in what other people are reading. Once again, thanks so much and here’s to lots of great reading in 2018!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. k10morris says…
    01/07/2018

    Purchased 'the woman in the window' friday night and flew through the 100 chapters and was finished this morning (sunday). I couldn't put it down! Thanks for the recommendation! I am on to Glass Castle now.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. ngibbons says…
    01/09/2018

    I love these blog posts. You've given me several good recommendations over the last 12 months - looking forward to some more this year! I've already pre-ordered The Woman at the Window.

    Reply 0 Replies
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    01/18/2018

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