2017 will go down as the year I learned how to use my library’s reserve system. No really. It’s changed my life. It's also gotten me on a first-name basis with my librarians. I have read over thirty-five books this year just for me, of which less than ten were bought for my Kindle or personal library. My husband and our budget appreciate this.
So, because I thoroughly appreciate good book recommendations, I thought I would share my favorite reads from the year. I am including my top non-fiction, fiction, and, since we do a lot of reading as a family, children's picture books and chapter books too.
Top Non-Fiction Reads:
I Am by Michelle Cushatt. I am terrible with devotionals. I prefer good old fashioned Bible reading and the occasional study with friends. But I loved this devotional. It was just the right length (a solid 5 minutes--about blog post length), it wasn't watered-down, and I highlighted many of the pages.
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, Ph.D. If you suspect that you or someone you love is highly sensitive or easily over-stimulated, this book might be a game-changer. I am still working through this one, but I feel both understood and better equipped to live as the woman God created me to be.
Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. I read this book and loved it so much that I turned around and read it again. Cindy Rollins had me laughing on one page with her honesty about motherhood and homeschooling, and then crying on the next page (also with her honesty about motherhood and homeschooling). It's a great book for any mother or anyone who wants to be a mother... but I think it's a must-read for any homeschooling mother. It gave me a beautiful (but gracious) vision of what homeschool could be for this family.
Why Motherhood Matters by September McCarthy. Have you have wanted to sit down with a seasoned mom/woman of faith, hear her stories, and be allowed to ask all the questions from the practical to the deep? This book is like that. September is that warm and wise mentor mom you wish you had. It is probably the best and most comprehensive book on biblical motherhood I have ever read.
- Peace in the Process by Kristin Taylor (My dear friend tells her story about infertility, adoption, and how God has been the author of her story. It's warm and encouraging and easy to read. Whether adoption is where God is leading you or not, this book will surely build your faith.)
- On Writing by Stephen King (I have been slowly working my way through this. Some language. But a really enjoyable read on writing. For anyone who calls him/herself a writer--whether you like Stephen King novels or not.)
- What is Reformed Theology? by RC Sproul (I am VERY slowly working my way through this one. Very solid reasons-why reformed theology book.)
Top Fiction Reads:
Beartown by Fredrik Backman. This was hands-down my favorite read of the year. It's about the hopes and dreams of a tiny hockey town, a star player who abuses the coaches daughter and when and how to take a stand. Part small-town life, part family dynamics, part teen drama and so many great one-liners on life and humanity. I am contemplating buying this book so I can read it again and highlight all over it.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. This was my second favorite read of the year. It's a humorous read with profound insights on life, sisterhood, and race. In the background of the story is a mystery that keeps you turning the pages. I imagine the author being the sort of person who is fluent in sarcastic humor, secretly loves romantic comedies, and wears a "I love Jesus but I cuss a little" T-shirt. This book made me laugh, burn dinner (because I could not set it down), and has kept me thinking about what Jackson called "The Second South." It's so good, guys. (PS I'd rate it PG-13 for some language and adult themes).
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. I didn't think I could like YA... until my friends recommended I try this book. It's warm and fuzzy, reminded me of what love felt like when I was seventeen, and it's an honest look at grief. (And there's no teen-sex in it. I clearly don't only read Christian fiction--but books with teen sex in it--I just can't even.)
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. This one reads like a modern day To Kill a Mockingbird. It's good writing on a relevant topic told inside a great story.
- The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (A beautiful story about two sisters set in WW2).
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (This one got a little preachy for me, and it was hard to read as a cop's wife. But looking at police brutality and race from another point of view was so valuable--a necessary uncomfortable.)
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tart (a beautiful and moving story, but also painful at times with the raw language and glimpse into drug addiction. I both loved it and hated it.)
- I Found You by Lisa Jewell (a twisty-turny fast-paced mystery that I read in one day. Decidedly adult language and themes.).
- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (I "discovered" this author at the end of last year and had read all five of her books by the beginning of this year. If you like historical mysteries with a great twist, she is an author I strongly recommend. The Secret Keeper was my favorite of the five.).
Read-Aloud Picture Books:
The Raft by Jim LaMarche. If you have a nature loving child, this book is pure magic. I didn't know it was possible to low-key obsess over a children's illustrator, but, guys, Jim LaMarche's pictures are moving. Somehow they capture the wild-and-free spirit of childhood and the wonder of nature. This book was my kids' favorite of his that he both wrote and illustrated, but seriously, if Jim LaMarche has illustrated it, check it out. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I think I have been brought to tears by every single one of his books.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen. This year was our first time reading this book. Now every time we take a family hike, we sing that song, often making up our own lines. That book is now apart of some of my favorite memories from the year.
The Book with No Pictures by B J Novak. My kids laughed themselves to tears when I read this book. If you have a 4-10 year old, you simply have to get this book and read it out loud.
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. Honest moment, I almost didn't check out this book solely based on the illustrations. I am so glad I did anyways. From my two year old to my nine year old, we loved this book. Turns out the black and white photographs with overlaid illustrations worked for my kids. There are two other books in the series, Knuffle Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free, and guys, by the last book I was crying over Trixie growing up. (I cry a lot, clearly).
- An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston (and all these books in this series. Beautiful illustrations and my nature-loving kids loved what they learned).
- Wet Cement by Bob Raczka (A fun book of concrete poems).
- Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes (I had almost forgotten the pleasure of simple rhymes in little one's ears. All three of my kids loved these.)
- Little Pookie by Sandra Boyton (This whole series is my two year old's favorite. In fact, he now insists on being called Pookie).
- How Do Dinosaurs Go to Sleep by Jane Yolen (This is another series my two year old adores.)
Read-Aloud Chapter Books:
Lost and Found by Andrew Clements. A story about two identical twin sixth graders who, thanks to an administrative error, find a way to be one person at school so one twin can skip school at a time. The story is hilarious and the lessons the boys and the grownups learn in the process are invaluable. My kids love listening to Andrew Clements' stories on audio book in the car. His pace is just right for car rides. (Other favorites of his are Frindle, A Week in the Woods, Lunch Money and Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series). Ideal for ages 8-11.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. My kids love everything by Roald Dahl and have listened to every one of his audio books at least 5 times through. His work is amazing for read-aloud. (Other favorites include The Enormous Crocodile and Matilda). Ideal for ages 5-11
Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford. Easily my kid's favorite chapter book that I've read aloud this year. It's funny, and it has a regular, everyday kid doing superhero deeds. We read this around Halloween and used the premise of the book to come up with our own Halloween costumes. One of my favorite memories from the year. Ideal for ages 7-11.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. This story moved way too slow for the two year old and he often jumped all over us while we were trying to read/listen. But my older kids and I were nevertheless swept away into a land with castles and goblins and magic rings. It moves slow, but the rewards are great for those who stick through to the end. Ideal for ages 9-14
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (We got caught up in the wild magic of this story, but I've got to tell you that I found the audio book version where the L'Engle reads it to be painful on my ears. Worth it, but wish I had just read it myself).
- The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill (Set in rural Alaska. A quick and enjoyable read about the love of learning, life in Alaska, and growing up. The short chapters make it a great first-time, get-your-feet-wet, chapter-book read-aloud.)
- Geronimo Stilton Series by Geronimo Stilton (both of my older kids love these books. No joke, I think they've collectively read over 30 in the series).
- The Cooper Kids Series by Frank Peretti (I got these for my daughter hoping she'd love them as much as I did when I was her age. She does! Adventure. Mystery. Bravery. Although I will say it's been a little difficult to get her to set these books down when it's time to sleep...)
Okay. Now I need to know, what are the best books you read in 2017? Did we read any of the same things? Share with me in the comments!
Happy New Year!!
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, which means that at no cost to you, should you buy the book through the link, I receive a small commission.