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In 2017 I read 53 books which averages out as being about one book per week. Quite incredibly I wasn’t intending to read so much this year but when I added up my reading list it was a satisfying number. How did I do it? Always have two books on the go, if you aren’t enjoying something put it down and read during the ad breaks on tv. Honestly – that’s it.

When considering my list I decided to offer my best recommendations from this year of reading. The books are a mixture of several different genres and subject matter. No spoilers below, just a list of books that you might want to consider adding to your TBR list.

Here we go….

The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood. Undoubtably one of the most important stories to be unearthed in 2017. World politics, literature and the television binge culture culminated in the perfect moment for The Handmaids Tale by Atwood to be revived. Having been tipped off that the tv series, shown on Channel 4 earlier this year, was unmissable I quickly scrabbled to read the novel and it was rich reading. While the television production was wonderful the book, as always, was better. The television series fell foul to the all too common problem of having to leave the story open for a second series whereas the book provides the perfect ending. My favourite read of 2017.

Closely followed by Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier. This is a collection of short stories which are rich and deep and satisfying. Short Stories are a genre which I used to avoid with hatred but the more I read the more I appreciate the skill and clarity which is needed to construct a successful short story. This collection is possibly the best – haunting, atmospheric and unforgettable.

A couple of books which stood out from the rest this year include Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty – Vendela Vida. Both are written in their own unique prose and style and both focus on a young female protagonist. Here, however, the comparisons end. Conversations with Friends starkly chronicles an affair and the ripples it causes through a group of Dublin based friends. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty unfolds from a bizarre descriptive story of a lost suitcase into a vivid, unsettling account of unbearable heartbreak. Both are clever, modern and worth picking up.

The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby does not need an introduction here – I have already devoted an entire blog post to it. All I will say is this – please read it. Also please enjoy the beautiful cover art.

A book which I bought by mistake was Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. Gordon talks openly about her experience of mental illness and her ascent back into wellness. I found this to be a completely eye opening venture into depression and mental illness which has really helped me to empathise with others in a new way. A very encouraging yet down to earth book.

The final non fiction book which I want to make mention of is Hunger by Roxane Gay. This memoir was released, quoted and scrutinised well before I had the chance to read it. Yes, I knew what had happened to Gay before I read the text but it was worth picking up – just to hear this unique voice speak so eloquently about her difficult past. It is a quick read but it is harrowing – I suggest you do a quick google search and read around this before diving in – just so as to prepare yourself.

 

And finally three books which could all be categorised as ‘Christian’ books. One biography –  Emily Foremans We died before we came here was probably my biggest surprise this year. I enjoyed it, and recommended it to many. Again I have already written about it here.

Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson is a dense read and I felt like it was hard work. Work that was worth doing – focusing on the subject of Holiness. Not a leisurely fluffy book, but rewarding to read. And finally the last book I read this year was Dance Stand Run by Jess Connolly. The follow up to Wild and Free, which I also loved, my copy of Dance Stand Run has been underlined, dog eared and battered as I devoured it. As comforting as it is challenging many passages from Dance Stand Run will accompany me into the New year and beyond.

SO there to have it. Agree? Disagree? Please let me know what your favourite book was this year. Read more about the books I read here.

Keep track of the books I am reading here at my bookish Instagram account – Books Northern Ireland.