Favorite books of 2017

Breaking my blogging silence to follow Katherine’s lead in writing about the best books I read this year. I intended to read 24 books, doubling my goal of 1 book a month from the previous year. Little did I realize having a baby and discovering the library ebook apps in the same year would lead to a lot of nursing/binge reading sessions, so I nearly doubled my reading goal (finishing number 47th on NYE).

It’s hard to pick which ones were the best, and I gave more goodreads stars to some that aren’t on here than others that are but I went with the ones that have stuck in my head the most since reading.

Top Nonfiction


I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux: for breathing life into my relationship with God and for helping me to break out of my overly analytical introspection that can be a stumbling block in my spiritual life.

Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting: for forcing me to fruitfully reflect on what worked and didn’t work in my own upbringing, for alleviating a ton of the anxiety and guilt I was experiencing in my relationship with my toddler, and for giving me concrete practices that I use every day.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World: kind of sensationalist, but it was the gut punch I needed to really examine my relationship with social media and screen time and realize just how much I get in my own way of my dreams and goals.

The Benedict Option + Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a two for one because though they are vastly different books, together they impressed upon me the significance of living as locally as possible. (The fact that my almost four month old can’t spend a minute in her car seat without screaming also impressed local living upon me.) Separately, they convinced me that I should be saying more rosaries and planting a garden.

Top Fiction


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: beautifully captured growing pains and joys and reminded me of how powerfully the inner landscape of our souls can be shaped by good books.

Middlemarch: because Dorothea Brooke should be the literary patron saint for any fiery young person who wants to change the world.

Emma: another book that impressed local living upon me in its own way.

Brooklyn: lyrical and lovely. Reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but definitely it’s own book. It was better than the film and the film was excellent. I’d happily pick up more Colm Tóibín.

In this House of Brede: a fascinating read for someone who ached for the cloistered life as a teenager. I think I’ve found a kindred spirit in Rumer Godden.

Reading Trends this Year

Jane Austen: two of her novels, one biography, and one sweet memoir of a young man’s life and how it was influenced by Jane. I love Jane all the more and think she would have been great fun to be friends with.

Contemporary reads: I habitually seek the comfort of British lit falling anywhere in the 19th century to the 1960s but I felt like I needed be more conversant of edgy contemporary (or if not edgy, just contemporary) things this year. Twenty-four of the forty-seven books I read were published after 2000. There were truly notable exceptions, but in the future, I think I’ll mostly stay off the best-sellers list and stick to my dead British authors.

Food books: food writing is such a funny thing and I feel like I could write a whole post on it. Somehow, I slipped into several food memoirs and books of food philosopy in 2017 and apparently mean to continue the trend in 2018 since my secret santa got me this book.

Memoirs: also not a genre I typically seek out, but I ended up reading five of them. Julia Child’s was particularly delightful.

Children’s Literature: I made an effort to read more of my favorite genre this year and it did not go unrewarded. I especially enjoyed Tom’s Midnight Garden and Half Magic (I sympathized with the kids feeling like only magical things happen to British children–I had the exact thought as a kid).

Quitting books: I’ve never been one to abandon books but then maybe my concerted effort to read more contemporary writing made me try out a lot of books not in my comfort zone and not to my taste. My conclusion is that I should have quit even more books this past year and that I will resolve to quit more books in the future. Time is short and there are more good books than I could fill a lifetime with.

Up next: my 2018 reading goals

Favorite books of 2017