Tag: Annual Best Books Lists

Best Books of 2018 So Far

June 26, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 37

Best Books of 2018 So Far

 

Can you believe it’s already time for the Best Books of 2018 So Far?!

For the past two years, 60% of the books on my June Best Books of the Year So Far lists (2017, 2016) ended up on my overall favorite books of the year lists (2017, 2016). I’ve had a couple big-time winners in the first half of this year that I’m 99.9% positive they will make it on my final list. So, we’ll see if I beat that 60% this year!

This year, I’m not only sharing my own favorite books, but I’m also sharing the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group members’ favorites! You can join the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group (where I share my unfiltered thoughts, sneak peeks of blog posts and members’ trade book recommendations amongst each other) by supporting the blog at the $3/month level on Patreon (more details here).

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

My Best Books of 2018 So Far

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (my review)
My first 5 star novel of the year…

Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
Your next book if you loved Hillbilly Elegy and/or Under the Banner of Heaven

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (my review)
The book I couldn’t read at night…

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (my review)
My new favorite “women who get women” author…

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
An easy read with a ton of substance (yes, a book can be both of those things)…

The Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer (my review)
That big, character-driven novel you can sink into…

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (my review)
Your next book if you loved A Little Life and/or The Heart’s Invisible Furies…or, if you liked the idea of A Little Life, but avoided it because of the overwhelming abuse.

Us Against You by Fredrick Backman (my review)
The author who captures the emotion of sports like no other (except maybe the screenwriters on Friday Night Lights)…

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan (my review)
A lighter, more sarcastic version of Anna Quindlen…and, my #1 “Fun” pick for on my 2018 Summer Reading List.

You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld (my review)
One of only two short story collections I’ve ever rated 5 stars…

The Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group’s Best Books of 2018 So Far

It’s kind of amazing…there is only one book on this list that got more than 1 vote! The Facebook Group is a varied bunch! And, that means you can mine this wide range of reading tastes for all kinds of book recommendations if you join in.

Get access to the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group by supporting the blog for $3/month on Patreon (more details here)!

What are your favorite books so far this year?

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The Best Audiobooks I’ve Listened to in 2018 So Far + A Giveaway

June 21, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 39

Best Audiobooks 2018 So Far

 

It took me awhile to get into a good grove with audiobooks, but now that I’m there, they’ve been such a great addition to my reading life. I had to figure out what type of books worked best for me (lighter nonfiction) and the right times to listen (not while I’m exercising). But, I’ve figured it out and incorporating audiobooks enables me to fit in so much more reading than I’d be able to otherwise! Plus, audiobooks are where I fit in lots of backlist books that it’s hard to make time for. So, I’m excited to share the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in 2018 so far…

June is Audiobook Month (#loveaudiobooks) and incorporating audiobooks into my reading life has enabled me to read 20-30 more books per year, so I’m thrilled to participate in the Audio Publishers Association’s “June is Audiobook Month” blog tour (#loveaudiobooks)!

Giveaway

And good news for you…as part of the blog tour, I get to offer you a giveaway of 8 audiobooks from Blackstone Publishing, High Bridge Audio, Hachette Audio, LA Theatre Works, Macmillan Audio, Post Hypnotic Press Audiobooks, Scholastic and Tantor Audio. The books will be available on Audiobooks.com, and you will get a promo code to access all 8 audiobooks. Let me know in the comments section if you’d like to be entered into the giveaway…
*Limited to U.S. residents only.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

The Best Audiobooks I’ve Listened to in 2018 So Far

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi (September 5, 2017)
The host of the Note to Self podcast (which is awesome, by the way!) explores the connection between boredom (aka the opportunity for your mind to wander) and creativity. Hint: it involves unplugging from your phone and social media for periods of time. The science she shares about what excessive smartphone use is doing to our brains is fascinating and scary. And, she includes easy tips to help manage your smartphone use.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Enduranceby Scott Kelly (October 17, 2017)
It took me the entire month of February to listen to this 12 hour audiobook! It’s Astronaut Scott Kelly’s (Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford‘s brother-in-law) story of his year on the International Space Station. Hearing about what it’s like to live on the Space Station was mostly really interesting, though the book could have been shorter.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan (February 4, 2014)
I absolutely adored Corrigan’s latest memoir, Tell Me More, so I was excited to delve into her backlist. While Glitter and Glue didn’t blow me away quite as much as Tell Me More, I still relished sinking back into Corrigan’s signature brand of heartfelt, relatable, and sometimes irreverent observations about life and motherhood. Corrigan hadn’t given much thought to what it’s like to mother someone or quite appreciated her mother until she stepped into the role of surrogate caring for two children who had lost their own. If you like women’s life observations-type writing (think Anna Quindlen, Cheryl Strayed), Kelly Corrigan should be next on your list!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills was improbably accepted by famously private Harper and Alice Lee when she visited Monroeville, AL for a story and ended up living next door to Harper. The story is as much about Mills’ journey to friendship with the Lees as it as about Lee herself. As I was listening, I almost felt like I was in To Kill A Mockingbird. For a real treat, pair with Episode 172 of From the Front Porch podcast about Annie Jones’ visit to Monroeville and a breakdown of what’s happened with Harper Lee’s estate since she passed away.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun (May 16, 2017)
This collection of essays flips wedding toasts on their heads…focusing on real talk about marriage with all its joys and challenges. Not the gushy platitudes that fill many actual wedding toasts. It’s contemplative, a bit sad, but also real and honest. If you prefer things less sugarcoated, this collection is for you.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (March 27, 2018)
You’ve probably heard much of the scoop in this book before (especially if you’re a golf fan), but mostly in little snippets over the course of his whole career. Benedict and Keteyian put all this together to paint a complete picture of Tiger as a person and an athlete. It’s a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of an elite athlete in the limelight who has been trained as a machine…and sorely under-trained as a whole person. PS – Bill Simmons, one of my favorite sports writers/podcasters, loved this book and read it in a few sittings.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What are the best audiobooks you’ve listened to in 2018 so far?

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The Best Audiobooks I Listened To In 2017

December 28, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 10

Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2017


Audiobooks are a relatively new, but welcome, addition to my reading life. It took me awhile to get into a good grove with them. I had to figure out what type of books worked best for me (lighter nonfiction) and the right times to listen (not while I’m exercising), but I’m now confident enough with my strategy to put together a Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2017 list.

Even though I’ve been in a good listening groove for about a year and a half, you don’t hear much about audiobooks on the blog because I find it hard to review them (taking notes and marking favorite passages is inconvenient with audio!) and the pressure of knowing I’m going to write about them decreases my listening pleasure. But, I’ve been getting more and more requests for audiobook recommendations, so I’m going to try to be better about sharing my favorites here in 2018…most likely in round-up or extremely mini review format.

Audiobooks are also where I knock out lots of backlist books, so unlike my other Best Books of 2017 lists, this one includes books that were published before 2017.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

The Best Audiobooks I Listened To In 2017

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold
Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold’s mother (Sue) shares her struggle following the shooting and Dylan’s suicide in this poignant memoir. I was initially skeptical of this one (would she just try to excuse her son’s actions?) and, while she did search for a “why?”, there was much more to this extremely complex story.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa is technically a celebrity memoir, but it’s actually not that at all. It is a heartfelt, funny, sad, and warm story about growing up as an outcast in an incredibly oppressive place.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif
al-Sharif started the campaign for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and this book is the story of her life as well as a stark portrayal of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia. This is one eye-opening, heart-breaking read and is perfect for anyone who loved The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (my review).

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
My Mom gave me this book when I was pregnant with my first child seven years ago and it didn’t make much of an impact on me. But, Will Schwalbe made me want to try it again in his Books for Living. The second time, it spoke directly to my core…maybe because I had seven years of motherhood under my belt by then.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Listening to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was like seeing a therapist and falls into the same category as Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. Quindlen has such a grounded, practical outlook on life that really puts things in perspective and this book could have made my overall Best Books of 2017 list had it been published this year! 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
After CNN Correspondent Tom Foreman’s daughter challenges him to train for a marathon with her, he ends up running 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and an ultra-marathon in one year. Not only is this memoir about an impressive running feat, but it’s a sweet story of a father and daughter connecting over a shared hobby. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
The true story about Christopher Knight, the man who lived alone in the Maine forest for 27 years before finally being arrested for stealing food and essentials from nearby vacation homes, is strange, but completely captivating. It’s like a mash-up between a wilderness story and a study of the introverted personality trait and came extremely close to making my overall Best Books of 2017 list

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
This memoir is about running. But, it’s also about writing and the two are inextricably linked for Murakami.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
This heart-breaking story of a seemingly perfect (if you looked at her Instagram account) teenager who commits suicide during her freshman year on the Penn State track team is a must-read for parents of young athletes. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
This behind-the-scenes memoir by President Obama’s former Deputy Chief of Staff is technically a political memoir, but it really doesn’t include any politics. It’s more a juicy, behind-the-scenes look at working in the White House and on Obama’s campaign trail sprinkled with tips on making the most of your career…all told through the voice of someone you’d love to grab a glass of wine with! 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What are your favorite audiobooks of 2017?

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The Best Books of 2017 Lists I Agree With…and the Ones I Don’t

December 19, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 50

Best Books of 2017 Lists Agree With


As you probably know if you’ve been reading my blog lately, I’ve had this feeling that I was on a completely different page than the serious literary critics about the Best Books of 2017. But, I didn’t really know for sure…

Then, a light went off…I could find out for sure exactly how far I was off from the serious literary critics. And, even better, which bookish media sources I should pay the most attention to (my best) and which I should ignore (my worst)? And, you can too (by using my free Excel template, available for download below)!

I kept track of as many Best Books of 2017 lists from major bookish news sources as possible and calculated what percentage of their Best Books of 2017 I liked / didn’t like. Now that I know my Best Bookish News Sources, I can use these publications or podcasts to pick better books moving forward!

The Best Best Books of 2017 Lists I Agree With Most

These are my Best Bookish Media Sources…

  1. Sorta Book Nerds Facebook Group, an offshoot of the Sorta Awesome podcast (50%)
  2. Modern Mrs. Darcy / What Should I Read Next? podcast (33%)
  3. Book of the Month Club (25%)
  4. Amazon (23%)
  5. From the Front Porch podcast (23%)

My Observations:

  • I’m calling these bookish media sources “the people’s sources,” meaning their followers lean more “regular readers” vs. book industry insiders. They have broader appeal and lean toward compelling stories and entertaining books.
  • The majority of these sources are podcasts, which I didn’t even listen to over a year ago!
  • I’m a bit surprised that Modern Mrs. Darcy made this list as I’d always thought she preferred lighter, happier books than I do. Goes to show what you can learn from looking at the numbers!
  • Amazon is a goldmine to have as a Best source…they publish Best Books of the Month lists each month, which are a great recommendation source that I hadn’t been taking regular advantage of!

The Best Books of 2017 Lists I DON’T Agree With

These are my Worst Bookish Media Sources…

  1. Kirkus (Literary Fiction -43%, Debuts -25%)
  2. New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017 (-30%)
  3. Publisher’s Weekly (-20%)
  4. Bookpage Editors Picks (-16%)
  5. Bustle (-14%)

My Observations:

  • These are the opposite of “the people’s sources.” Let’s get a bit snarky and call them “the literary snobs.” They take themselves very seriously and lean towards heavy, “important” books.
  • They tend to be compiled by the book editors at each publication.
  • I’m surprised by Bustle‘s presence in my Worst group, as I do normally like their book coverage.
  • I often cite Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly reviews in my Book of the Month Club commentary posts since they publish reviews in advance of publication date. I won’t be doing this moving forward!

Some Random Tidbits

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward appears on 13 out of 23 (56%) of the lists. This is the epitome of a heavy, important book that, while I could objectively see why it appealed to the critics, I didn’t actually like (my review). And, while I appreciate books that convey important messages, I also want to enjoy reading them. And, there are books that accomplished both for me (i.e. this year’s Beartown and The Hate U Give).
  • Same goes for Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, appearing in 12 out of 23 (52%) of the lists.
  • Where is The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, which was my favorite book of the year and is a serious, important book (my review), but is also a compelling and entertaining story? It only made a measly 4 (17%) of the lists (not surprisingly, 2 of them are among my Best Media Sources)! 

Find the Best Books of 2017 Lists You Most Agree and Disagree With!

  • Download the spreadsheet via the sign-up form below.
  • Follow the spreadsheet’s instructions to find your Best and Worst Best Books of 2017 lists.
  • Trust your Best Bookish Media Sources! Use them to pick books moving forward. Most publish “Most Anticipated Books” and mid-year Best Books list, which are great sources for recommendations throughout the year. Maybe you’ll even find some new-to-you sources you didn’t even realize were in line with your taste!
  • Be skeptical of book recommendations from your Worst Bookish Media Sources.

Give it a go! What Best Books of 2017 lists did you agree or disagree with? What are your Best and Worst Bookish News Sources?

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Best Books of 2017

December 12, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 35

Best Books of 2017


For the last few years, I’ve had trouble choosing one favorite for my Best Book of 2017, so I’ve treated my list like an Olympic event with my top 3 books as my “medalists.” But, this year I had one overwhelming favorite. No other book even came close. 

While I’m thrilled to have a secure best book of 2017, this year was difficult overall. There just weren’t as many books that blew me away as in previous years. And, the books that worked really well for me were lighter than my usual fare. But, there’s nothing wrong with some crackling brain candy and I read a couple outstanding ones this year.

I was also on a completely different wavelength than the serious literary critics (via their Best Books of 2017 lists…more on this in a later post) and I didn’t love many of the books that publishers pushed the most (see my post on 2017 Books that Deserved the Hype…and Those That Didn’t).

Finally, I’ve brought back the high school yearbook-style “Superlatives” from previous years (201620152014) and stay tuned for my first ever Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2017 list (coming on December 28)!

Best Books of 2017

My #1 Book of 2017

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (review)
Most Likely to Make my All-Time Favorites List

Closest Reading Experience I’ve Had to A Little Life (minus the relentless physical abuse) 
Caused My Most Recent Book Hangover
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Rest of My Favorites

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (review)
Best Author Comeback (I DNF’d A Man Called Ove)

Best Sports Book That’s About Far More Than Sports
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (review)
Most Recommended and Purchased (via my Affiliate Links) Book of 2017
Most Demented Twins
Best Balance Between Literary and Brain Candy
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (review)
Best Thriller of 2017 (and Best Thriller I’ve Read Since Gone Girl)

Best Balance Between Surprising, Yet Not Outlandish Ending
Most Dysfunctional Family
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (review)
Best Campus Novel

Best Debut
Most Sinister
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito (review)
Most Messed Up High School Students

Best Book in Translation
Most Underrated Gem
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (review)
Biggest Surprise

Best of the Brain Candy
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (review)
Most Endearing Family

Biggest Range of Emotions
Best “Issue” Book
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (review)
Best Sports Book

Hit Closest to Home
Best Non-Traditional Coming of Age Story
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (review)
Best Writing

Best Social Commentary about the Wealthy
Hottest
Best Non-Traditional Love Story
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

What were your favorite books of 2017?

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Six 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype…and Eight That Didn’t

December 8, 2017 Book Lists 38

It’s hard to define what makes a book “hyped.” Does this mean a book was nominated for or won awards? Was being breathlessly chattered about in the book blogging world? Was getting big marketing dollars or a huge advance from its publisher? Was on many “most anticipated books of X” lists? Had glowing early reviews? Based on an author’s previous work? Everyone in your real life was reading and loving it? My 2017 Books that Deserved the Hype list landed mostly in the awards and marketing dollars from publishers categories.

Sadly, I said a big, fat “UGH” when I finished compiling my 2017 Books that Deserved the Hype list. There were so many more books that didn’t deserve the hype than those that did. My trust in the traditional media and publishers for book recommendations is waning fast. I’ll be delving into this a bit more (numerically!) in 2018, but suffice it to say that the books that caught my eye this year were generally not the ones that the serious literary critics and publishers thought everyone should / would love.

Linking up with A Month of Favorites hosted by Traveling with TEstella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Six 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype

2017 Books that Deserved Hype


Anything Is Possible
 by Elizabeth Strout (mini review)
New York Times 100 Notable Book of the YearEsquire Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar Best Book of 2017

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (review)
Amazon Best Book of 2017, tons of regular reader buzz

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (review)
O MagazineEsquire Magazine and Refinery 29 Best Book of 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (review)
Goodreads Choice Award Winner for FictionBook of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, 5 Week New York Times Bestseller (combined print and e-book), tons of regular reader buzz, and AmazonEsquire MagazineHarper’s BazaarPop Sugar, and Refinery29 Best Book of 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
O Magazine and Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017, Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Debut and Young Adult, #1 New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (review)
Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, tons of regular reader buzz

You’ll be hearing more about most of these books later, so no commentary just yet!

…and Eight That Didn’t

2017 Books That Didn't Deserve Hype


Behind Her Eyes
 by Sarah Pinborough (spoiler discussion)

Accolades: Massive pre-publication hype (i.e. #WTFthatending hashtag campaign), Book of the Month Book of the Year NomineePop Sugar Best Book of 2017
My Take: Completely outlandish ending and a ridiculous key to the story (see spoiler discussion for more details).

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (review)
Accolades: Tons of regular reader buzz, Book of the Month selection

My Take: Kind of cheesy in rom-com way and a major piece of the ending felt like a cop-out.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Accolades: Kirkus Best Literary Fiction of 2017, New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2017, and AmazonO Magazine, New York TimesEsquire Magazine, Time MagazineHarper’s Bazaar Best Book of 2017
My Take: I certainly appreciated parts of this book (i.e. the writing), but the story petered out by the end and overall I was left with a “meh” feeling.

Final Girls by Riley Sager
Accolades: Stephen King called it the “first great thriller of 2017”, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, and Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017
My Take: The ending was outlandish and completely jumped the shark, which is the death-knell of thrillers for me.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (review)
Accolades: National Book Award Winner for Fiction, Kirkus Best Literary Fiction of 2017, New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2017, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, and Publisher’s WeeklyWashington Post, New York Times, Time MagazinePop SugarRefinery29 Best Book of 2017
My Take: I could objectively see the elements that have the critics falling all over themselves. But, something didn’t quite connect with me, I kept zoning out while reading, and I was never dying to pick it up. Also, the ghost element absolutely did not work for me.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas (review)
Accolades: Kirkus Best Debut of 2017, tons of pre-publication buzz
My Take: The inclusion of “stories within the story” (in this case, Joan’s own writing) added at least a hundred unnecessary pages to an already overly long book and pulled me out of the central story.

What We Loseby Zinzi Clemmons (review)
Accolades: Kirkus Best Debut of 2017 and Esquire MagazineElle MagazineHarper’s BazaarRefinery29 Best Book of 2017
My Take: Written in vignettes that felt jumpy, preventing me from focusing on the story.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (review)
Accolades: Tons of pre-publication and regular reader buzz
My Take: The last part of the book is a Choose Your Own Adventure story…except it’s a fake one. Enough said.

And, those are just the books I actually finished. I abandoned (i.e. DNF’d)… 

All of these books were nominated for or received literary awards and/or appeared on numerous “Best Books of 2017” lists from publications like KirkusNew York Times, Time MagazinePop Sugar, and Refinery29.

What books do you think deserved their hype this year? Which ones do you think didn’t?

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Best Debuts of 2017

December 5, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 19

Best Debuts of 2017


Last year, an astounding seven out of eight of my Best Debuts of 2016 also made my overall Best Books of 2016 list. That’s the most debuts that have made my overall Best Books of the Year list since I started blogging by far.

I can pretty much assure you we won’t approach that number this year, but you will be seeing a couple of these books on my overall list in a couple weeks!

Best Debuts of 2017

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review)
Dead Letters was my first overwhelming winner of the year. I’ve been recommending it like crazy ever since and it’s one of the most frequently purchased books from my affiliate links.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (my review)
This year’s winning book about books! Spence is relatable, funny, and often snarky…and you will likely have heard of most of the books she talks about.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (my review)
This tiny gem of a novel is one of the few this year that the book critics from the traditional media and I agree on! Ruth’s endearing, witty, real, and relatable voice is the star of this one.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (my review)
The The Secret History read-alike I’ve been searching for forever!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (my review)
A sweet, delightful, and whimsical story with a main character reminiscent of Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird).

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (my review)
A debut novel with straight talk about marriage. Plus, Heiny introduces the brilliant idea of a drop-off club for houseguests (similar to the kids clubs at resorts).

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A rare YA (Young Adult) book that I loved! And, the rare “issue” book that is first and foremost a compelling and well-told story.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (author interview)
Fiction based on the harrowing true story of Hunter’s family that defies statistics, explanation, and imagination. Also one of the only World War II books I’ve read recently that hasn’t felt like a slog!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What are your favorite debuts of 2017?

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Best Books of 2017 So Far

June 27, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 24

Can you believe it’s already time for the Best Books of 2017 So Far?!

Last year, 60% of the books on my June Best Books of 2016 So Far list ended up on my overall favorite books of 2016 list. Which, based on the massive reading slump I had during the first few months of last year, is kind of shocking.

I don’t feel like the beginning of this year has been as slumpy as last year, so we’ll have to see how many of this year’s halftime crop make it to the finish line…

Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This post contains affiliate links.

 Best Books of 2017 So Far


All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (my review)
The book that definitely isn’t for everyone, but was for me…

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (Spoiler Discussion)
The book that totally messed with my head…

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (my review)
Started to fill the empty hole Friday Night Lights left in me…

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review)
The book I’ve been recommending to absolutely everyone and the top seller via my affiliate links…

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (my review)
The dark, campus novel I’d been searching for ever since loving Black Chalk

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (my review)
Best nonfiction of the year so far…and best audiobook.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (my review)
The psychology of going to Mars…and the most unique book I’ve read all year…

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (my review)
Had me feeling a full range of emotions…

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (my review)
A new addition to my Best of the Brain Candy list and the first of my two winning sports novels this year…

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
The most gorgeous writing of the year so far…and a love story I actually enjoyed!

What are your favorite books so far this year?

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Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

January 17, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 26

Eight of the most underrated gems of 2016


I’m linking up at with the lovely ladies at The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday! 

Yep, I’m throwing in one last 2016 round-up list. This might be one of my favorites because I think all these books deserve a ton of love and attention! And, it enables me to give some love to books that just missed making my Best Books of 2016 list.

Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
I think I understand why this book hasn’t taken off with the broad reading public…it’s supremely uncomfortable and icky at times, but turns into something sweet and beautiful by the end.

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
I’m still thanking my lucky stars that Catherine at Gilmore Guide recommended this local-to-her author and I’m hoping his dysfunctional sailing family novel gets the broad acclaim it deserves.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron
I was surprised this dark vacation page turner didn’t take off more this summer.

The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
This novel got a fair amount of love from the book blogging world when it came out a year ago, but it came this close to making my Best Books of 2016 list…and I didn’t see it on a single other Best of the Year list.

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards
Not to be confused with The Mothers by Brit Bennett, this novel packs a serious punch despite its small package…it’s emotional, suspenseful, and makes important observations about life and crime in a tough neighborhood.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
So many people loved this book as a light and fun read, but I think it was more than that. Benjamin captured Capote’s voice so perfectly I occasionally forgot I wasn’t actually reading him and she went deep beneath the surface to the darker side of his swans’ (particularly Babe Paley) glittering lifestyles.

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and long-listed for the 2017 Tournament of Books, this novel isn’t lacking in critical acclaim. But, I’d love to see some popular appeal follow!

Why They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo
Short stories are a tough sell…and it’s rare that a collection ends up getting a lot of attention outside of the book world. But, this collection is accessible and would appeal to readers who are skittish about the genre.

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Best Books of 2016

December 27, 2016 Annual "Best Books" Lists 53

Best Books of 2016

I’ve given up trying to challenge myself to choose one favorite book every year. Like last year, I’m treating this list like an Olympic swimming final (if 10 swimmers advanced to the finals, rather than 8). And being an Olympic year, this is fitting. The top 3 books are my medalists and the remaining 7 round out my “finalists.” And, I’ve brought back the high school yearbook-style “Superlatives” from previous years (2015, 2014).

2016 was the year of the debut for me, with 6 debuts making my overall list and taking 2 of my 3 medals! For more on debuts, check out my Best Debuts of 2016 list. And, 70% of my Best of 2016 authors are female!

The Medalists

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (review)
Best Dysfunctional Family

Latest Addition to My Favorite Authors List
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Shelter by Jung Yun (review)
Most Nail-Biting First Chapter

Most Brutal
Best Balance Between Writing and Plot
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (review)
Most Gorgeous Writing
Best First Page
Caused My Most Recent Book Hangover
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Remaining Finalists

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (review)
Best Nonfiction of 2016

Most Relevant to Current Events
Best Female Heroine (Mamaw)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (review)
Quietest

Best Life Lessons
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington (review)
Best Southern Coming of Age Novel

Most Recommended Book of the Year
Best Narrator’s Voice (Rocky)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (review)
Best Gritty Coming of Age

Best Food Writing
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tender by Belinda McKeon (review)
Most Cringe-Worthy

Most Emotionally Intense
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (review)
Most Thinly Veiled Nonfiction

Most Scandalous
Best Example of Wealthy People Behaving Badly
Biggest Surprise of the Year
Best Recovery Book
Biggest Rating Regret (I rated it 4 instead of 5 stars when I read it)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Most Likely to Emotionally Wreck You

Most Deserving of All the Hype
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What were your favorite books of 2016?

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