I’ll end 2017 with 63 books read. Pretty good and higher than the last few years.
I came up short on my goal to read 12 non-fiction books, only reading 7 as the second half the year I started really concentrating on learning more about story, genre, craft and doing more of my own writing again. To learn writing, you need to read and I read a lot in the mystery/crime/thriller genre.
In no particular order, these are the books that stuck with me (when you read as much as I do, if you can remember the plot after a few days, it’s the sign of a good book) and that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend.
If you need a book to read over the holiday break or start the year right, I promise you could do much worse than any on this list.
Before we moved out to the ‘burbs, we lived in Brookline (a stubbornly independent town surrounded by Boston). There were many great things about living in Brookline and just minutes from the city: good pizza, museums, bakeries, many bars, shopping, weirdos, runners, and all the history.
By far one of the best things, for me, was the Brookline Booksmith bookstore in Coolidge Corner. I was there multiple times a week. Sometimes for events, sometimes to buy, and sometimes just to hang out with the books.
I snuck a non-fiction title in there and a few genre benders, but it was mostly more thrillers and mysteries as I slowly try to get back into writing. No NaNoWriMo this year for me, but I am using the hype to get me excited to write again. I’m working on my annual October short story and using that kickstart my way back into a full length novel over the winter. I’m aiming for 1,000 words a day or about 6k per week, however I get there. In the downtime I’m reading as much as I can.
Standouts for me this month were: Sourdough, a slim literary novel about a technology worker turned back. The Blinds, a high concept thriller executed with intelligence. The Hit, a commercial thriller from Baldacci’s backlist.
Warm weather, vacation, beaches, Cape trips all meant that I was on a fiction trip these past two months. I did keep plugging away at my non-fiction goal for the year with one non-fiction book (and it was a big one!), but it was mostly genre fiction along with a great new pizza cookbook that I added to my collection.
All fiction the last couple months. I’ve still got some non-fiction in progress, but it’s been slow going. With marathon training right around the corner, a bunch of non-fiction running books are on the TBR pile.
From this batch, I’d recommend Ove, if you, like me, are one of the few people that still haven’t read it. I’d also recommend another Nordic book, a bit bloodier than Ove, in Nesbo’s latest Harry Hole thriller. Keep reading people…..
This is one of those books that I count as a happy surprise. If I had stumbled across it in a store or at the library, I would not have been likely to pick it up. A book on plants crossed with the memoir of a geobotanist? Just completely outside my typical areas of interest.
But here is where book club saved me. I was looking for some non-fiction and something we hadn’t read before as a group. This certainly qualified and with some hesitancy, I added it to the our list. I’m glad I did. Everyone liked it.
Here are some quick thoughts on the fiction that I’ve read since Christmas. The two standouts for me were The Dry and The Underground Railroad and would recommend either book to just about anyone. The Underground Railroad should be required reading for all. I also really enjoyed Wolf Road, but it’s so unique and twisted and dark that I’d have to be really confident we have the same tastes to recommend it wholeheartedly, otherwise I’d risk having you look at me sideways when I rave about the book.