I read a lot of books this year and enjoyed many of them. It’s hard to choose favorites, so I narrowed it down to only those books that were released during 2017. These books all received five out of five shells in my reviews.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Rita Williams-Garcia is an incredible author whose middle-grade fiction always handles difficult subjects with ease and gentleness. Her newest release is no different. I loved going on an adventure with Clayton as he discovered truths about himself and his family through the power of music.
Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me at the beginning of the year that a book about yoga would make my best-of list, but here we are! Beyond just making yoga more accessible, the biggest take away from this book is that no matter who you are and what your physical limitations may be, your body and mind deserve to be nourished and prioritized.
Hunger by Roxane Gay
This was one of my most anticipated reads for the year and it exceeded all of my expectations. I still feel it in my chest when I reflect on the experiences Roxane Gay shares in this heartbreaking memoir.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This book deserves every ounce of praise that it’s received this year. It’s a stunning YA debut about police violence and the movement for black lives. You definitely need to pick it up if you haven’t already read it. Do it!
Looking back on 2017 (with the help of Goodreads, of course) I see that I liked and really liked a lot of books. But the ones that got five stars from me were these:
Princess Hair by Sharee Miller
This wonderful picture book spreads the message that everyone is a princess and therefore their hair is princess hair. Then it details exactly how princesses can wear all the varieties of African American hairstyles. I loved its premise and its focus on African American girls. It’s all empowerment and positive message and inclusion and you should get it for all your littles, whether of color or not.
Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera
As I talked about in my review this picture book is hilarious in its absurdity about animals and their underroos. I loved it so much I bought it for my almost three-year-old niece for Christmas.
Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
Vibrant colors and illustrations with a powerhouse of information on notable women you may have heard of and some you likely haven’t. I was inspired and to this day want to share it with everyone (just ask Abby what my reaction was when I saw her reading it.). Ignotofsky’s next book, Women in Sports, came out in July and is one of my most anticipated reads for 2018.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
It’s no secret I adore Backman’s whole catalog but this novella hit so close to home. If you’ve ever had a loved one deteriorate from Alzheimer’s this will likely make you cry the entire time, like it did me. About a grandfather trying to come back to reality for his grandson even though he can’t quite find the way.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I’m still in awe of the mastery of this novel by Picoult and I try to get everyone to read it in the hopes of fostering dialog about race and race relations in America. It’s so easy to say “oh no, I’m not racist” without realizing all the little ways you maybe are. I stand by my one word review of “wow”.
Our fledgling blog turned one on November 1, and we couldn’t be happier! Thank you to everyone who reads along with us as we review books we’ve (mostly) loved. We enjoy sharing this small part of our reading world with you. Now for some cake…
What it’s about: Illustrator Satrapi’s childhood in and out of Iran during and just after the revolution.
What made me pick it up: I had read Persepolis and Persepolis 2, graphic novels by Satrapi, and was curious to see how they had been turned into a film.
My favorite parts: This was a very faithful retelling of Satrapi’s graphic novels, with pieces moved around in just the right way to tell it visually without it being dryly chronological. I actually think her illustrations work better as animations so I highly enjoyed the movie. It is in French as well (with English subtitles), so Francophiles can rejoice!
Who it’s great for: Readers of Satrapi’s books. Anyone interested in Iran, especially during the revolution and its aftermath.
As we all begin to move forward after the horrendous Charlottesville violence of August 12, Abby and I thought we would share some books that might make for good reading to further inform on issues of racial and social justice.
Enjoy these books and pursue other reading that opens you up to new ideas and the experience of people different than you. Most importantly going forward, treat each other with understanding, kindness, and love.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman because I like his other stuff. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier because Native American poetry. White Working Class by Joan C. Williams because I read White Trash and am just on a jaunt on that subject.
What it’s about: A brand new podcast featuring LeVar Burton reading short fiction.
What made me tune in: This is basically Reading Rainbow for the adults who grew up with it.
My favorite things: Primarily featuring science fiction and fantasy, Burton’s enthusiasm for the stories he reads is contagious. The voices and sound effects used in each episode are engaging and fit the stories so well that they almost go unnoticed. I love the way he takes the time to explain why he chose each story and what aspects of it he likes the best. So far, each episode has been under an hour and fits nicely into a day’s commute.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who grew up on Reading Rainbow. Fans of audiobooks looking for something shorter to try.
Find it for free wherever you access your podcasts.
What it’s about: A previously unpublished collection of stories by the multitalented late writer Kathleen Collins on love, family, and relationships.
What made me pick it up: I’d heard good things about the collection and it was nice and short so I knew I could get through it quickly and easily.
My favorite things: Collins seamlessly moves through different voices and perspectives, lending each an air of honesty and authenticity. Her stories sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes mundane, but always moving
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for stories about love and relationships that don’t ignore the complexities of race, gender, class, and sexuality.
What it’s about: Notable female scientists throughout history.
What made me pick it up: I think I saw it on Twitter. It was about women scientists and I placed a hold immediately because I immensely enjoyed Lab Girl and Headstrong.
My favorite things: This book is like a good mixed drink: smooth, flavorful, and designed to be sipped slowly. I only read a few pages a day so I could savor the unique illustrations and layouts as well as the mostly new-to-me knowledge of these amazing scientists. The message is empowering for girls of any age and the colors are fabulous. It’d make a great gift for any young devotee of STEM in your life.
Who it’s great for: Those interested in women’s contributions to science. Readers of all ages. Fans of great illustrations. Graphic novel readers who want a nonfiction book. Girls, girls, girls.
What it’s about: A curmudgeonly old man tries to move on after losing his wife and his job in quick succession.
What made me watch it: A woman in my book club mentioned it was as good as any huge fan of the book could hope (and I am one!). When the library got a copy I checked it out.
How it stacks up to the book: This was nicely done. It was missing some of the humor that comes from the ability to hear(read) a character’s inner monologue, but still had its moments. Some plot points were rearranged and timelines were condensed, which is to be expected. Overall the characters and relationships are as crisp and powerful as they are in the book and the tugs on your heartstrings just as pronounced. I could watch it over again.
Who it’s great for: Fans of the book. Lovers of foreign films (it’s in Swedish). Viewers looking for a heartfelt story and a sincere and masterful translation from page to screen.
Get the film or the book from Amazon (affiliate links) or check for them in your local library.