My 2017 in Books

I read a lot of books in 2017.

The grand total was 100 books. That was more than 32,000 pages of text. This total includes listening, as well as reading. I consumed most of my books as audiobooks this year.

My favorite book of the year?

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo.

A weird, wonderful and woeful book. It was one of the best audiobook productions. It has a huge cast of readers taking on the multiple characters in the story.

This is the rest of my list in roughly chronological order, with my brief thoughts.


Lagoon

****

In interesting take on alien arrival on earth. The aliens arrive in Lagos Nigeria. The tale is, at times, more like an African folk tale.

The Last Policeman (Last Policeman, #1)

****


A great who done it, in an interesting setting. A life-ending asteroid is plunging toward Earth, but his detective stays on the case of a suicide.
The Westing Game

****

A bedtime story for The Girl. She really liked this mystery. I did not. But I was not the target reader, she was, so I’m giving it her rating.

The Winter Over

***

An thriller set in the dark isolation of the the south pole base as it empties out for the long winter season.

Thor, Volume 1: The Goddess of Thunder

****

Read for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge number 18: “Read a Superhero comic with a female lead.”

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)

****

The book has an interesting approach to story-telling. The narration is through a series of case files.

Hex

***

The book starts with an interesting premise: living in a cursed town, haunted by a centuries-old witch. I really enjoyed some parts of the book.

The Mountain: My Time on Everest

***

Viesturs is one of the greatest big mountain climbers and is a good storyteller. This book is a hodgepodge of his own climbs and other historic climbs on Mount Everest. He also touches on climbs of other big mountain. He seems to just superficially touch many of the climbs and refers the readers to other books for more detail.

Fangirl

****

A YA book of a young woman’s first year of college as she struggles with identity, her twin sister, roommates, boys and writing fan fiction. 

Lola

****

I was torn throughout this book about whether I was supposed to like Lola. The titular character is the leader of small drug gang in Los Angeles. 

March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)

*****

Perhaps President Trump should have read theses graphic novels before criticizing John Lewis. The three books tell his harrowing story of standing up to racism.

The Call of the Wild

*****

A tremendous tale of survival in the Yukon during gold rush. The protagonist is not out hoping for a fortune, but merely trying to survive.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

****

The story is a compelling look at American culture. We were working to put men on the moon while there were still separate bathrooms for blacks and white engineers at NASA.

Underground Airlines

****

Winters takes us through an alternate history where the Civil War never happened and slavery still exists in the southern US.

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

*****

The 2009 arrest of Raj Rajaratnam of the Galleon Group was the start of a long trail of insider trading prosecutions that culminated in the prosecution of SAC Capital. The SEC had identified Steve Cohen as the worst of the insider trading hedge funds and the SEC put his SAC Capital in its cross-hairs. It convinced the Justice Department to prosecute the offenders with criminal charges.

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)

***

I found some aspects of the book to be interesting, but it fell flat for me. The world-building was expansive and rich, weaving the fantasy elements.

Mr. Popper's Penguins

****

A cute audiobook for vacation getaway drive with the kids. At 3 hours, it was the perfect length.

Fortunately, the Milk

****

A delightful audiobook for a long car ride with the kids. 

The Passenger

***

The book started as interesting thriller. A woman was on the run from a mysterious pass. Then the story took some strange twists and turns.

Kaplan Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam License Exam Manual
Done with manual and quizzes, now on to practice exams and the Series 7 exam.
Of Mice and Men

*****

 

Carry On

*

I ended up with this book to meet goal number 20 on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge: Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten…more

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)
*

Nothing special here, just a whodunnit novel. I found some intriguing elements to the story and the characters, but they never came together.

George

****

A charming story of a transgender youth trying to show that the world that he wants to be seen as a girl. The tool is a performance of Charlotte’s Web.

Modern Romance

***

This audiobook was a mixed bag. Thumbs up for Aziz reading it. At least that’s a thumbs up if you like him. Thumbs down because his reading was up and down.

In a Dark, Dark Wood

***

I found it to be a perfectly fine mystery. I didn’t find much to like with the point of view protagonist and I found the unreliable narrator to  be a tedious exercise in waiting for the reveal.

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

****

A remarkably detailed history of the events leading up to the start of World War I. It is full of detail about the events and the people who played a part.

S-Town

****

A beautiful produced story about small town Alabama and John B McLemore’s life there. I did not find the narrative to be compelling. 

Wind, Sand and Stars

*

A poetically tale of adventures from the early days of long distance flight. It was less of a travel tale than a metaphysical ramble on human existence.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

***

I was confused and torn about my thoughts on this book and my experience with this narration of the audiobook. 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

*****

Matthew Desmond took a deep dive into poverty and housing. 

Hag-Seed

*****

A delightful re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by one of the great storytellers.  Ms. Atwood’s Prospero is the director of theater festival who is thrown out by Tony. Prospero plots his revenge from exile during a prison play of The Tempest. It’s far from her dystopian tale in The Handmaid’s Tale that is getting so much attention these days, but this is a more enjoyable book.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

****

A funny, interesting and at times gross look at the science of space travel. 

Shut Up, Legs!: My Wild Ride On and Off the Bike

***

A book for cycling fans and especially for those who love the courageous, attacking Jensie. No, it’s not well written and the stories are not always great. But it is Jensie’s whacky style.

Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey

*****

I enjoy a good bourbon and enjoyed this book.

Behold the Dreamers

*****

 

The Couple Next Door

***

A fine thriller follows the twists when a baby is kidnapped. What did the parents do wrong?

The Book of Joan

***

Weird. Audacious. Ambiguous. It’s a post-apocalyptic Joan of Arc trying the power of life, stories and love through decaying human flesh.

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms, #1)

*

It was recommended for the kids for a road trip. It kept nobody’s attention. 

The Wright Brothers

****

The remarkable story of the intrepid brothers determined to fly. Spoiler alert: They succeeded.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

*****

Reading this is liking drinking from a firehouse. Dr. Tyson packs a whole lot of astrophysics into a small book. 

Hemingway Didn't Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations

***

A blog to book endeavor that is incredibly well-researched and at times entertaining. Mostly, it’s just a story in how words get twisted and attributed mistakenly.

The Heart Goes Last

****

None

Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)

***

The writing and narration are great. Mr. Marsters carries a breathy world-weariness that I expect from Harry Dresden.

What Lurks Below (Hell Holes, #1)
0

 

That was terrible. Thankfully it was short. On the other hand it stopped short of a meaningful conclusion, merely being the first in a series.

Walk Two Moons

*****

A wonderful bedtime story with my daughter. It’s even better to read out loud. 

Invisible Man

*****

A tremendous, profound, troubling odyssey of a black man’s story of post-war life, traveling from the south seeking a job in the New York. 

Time Travel: A History

***

An interesting look at time travel through scientific, literature, history and popular cultur

Thunderstruck & Other Stories

*****

A powerful mix of short stories.

Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels

*****

“There is always an unexplored neighborhood somewhere in the city.
There is always more of the infinite mystery of the Holy to explore.

Norse Mythology

*****

A fantastic telling of the Norse myths by one of the great fantasy story writers.

Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe
***

This is a wonderfully researched book that enlightens the process of scientific discovery. Even the most brilliant of scientists can make mistakes. 

An Atlas of Countries that Don't Exist: A Compendium of Fifty Unrecognized and Largely Unnoticed States

An interesting book that is beautifully put together, but shallow on the subject. 

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles, #1)

Reeve, Philip

***

An interesting concept of mobile cities roaming a post-apocalyptic world. The writing is good, but a bit flat. It could be a great movie. 

Cosmos

*****

A wonderful book full of hope and wonder, while also a warning for failing to heed scientific discovery. 
Animal Farm

*****

The classic.

The Princess Diarist

****

A brief, fun book if you’re a fan of Star Wars and/or Carrie Fisher. 

Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition

***

Wonderful pictures of modern Boston during the urban decline of the 50s-70s.

For the Living and the Dead: Poems and a Memoir

Poetry is not really on the top of my reading list, but I needed to finish Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. It required a collection of poetry in translation that was not about love.

Sweetbitter

****

If you have ever worked the front of the house in a restaurant, this book will resonate with you.

The Troop

****

It’s nasty. Stephen King meets the Lord of the Flies. [edit]

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

****

A book about a Book Of Books. Ms. Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, uses books as a framework for events in her life.

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

*****

A book by Al Franken, narrated by Al Franken, about Al Franken, with all of his droll, satire pointed at his new job as a US Senator from Minnesota. I read this before his sexual harassment allegations. I’m not sure how that influences my thoughts on the book.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
****

A hatchet job on the energy conglomerate. Although not undeserved. The company’s approach to climate change denial while Lee Raymond was CEO was abhorrent.

The Force

****

A gritty crime novel about a corrupt detective on the streets of Manhattan North.

Pedal Zombies: Thirteen Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories

****

An eclectic collection of short stories at the intersection of bikes and zombies.

Spy Who Couldn't Spell, The : A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI's Hunt for America's Stolen Secrets

***

An interesting spy case that I don’t remember hearing much about. Unfortunately it spends more time exploring the “law and order” procedural.

The Dispatcher

****

A strange premise: murdered people come back to life. With this change, Scalzi explores the moral, legal and medical implications.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

*****

A great audiobook if you love Steve Martin and very good if you merely like him. The only thing holding me back in extolling my praise is that it’s not as good as Yes, Please or The Girl with the Lower Back TattooAmy Poehler and Amy Schumer do a better job with their memoirs and the audiobook version of their memoirs. 

Curse of The Narrows

****

My motivation for reading this book is that my grandfather came to the US because of these events. Halifax was a key shipping port for WWI. 

Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2016
Seabound (Seabound Chronicles #1)

*

A possibly interesting concept fell into a mess. 

All the Light We Cannot See

*****

A beautifully written novel, with rich characters and a compelling narrative. 

The Woman in Cabin 10

***

It was a fine thriller.

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

****

A fascinating tale of a pending alien invasion. It provides a novel look at what the aliens might do to prepare for their arrival and what humans may do as a response.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

****

The pirate hunters are as fascinating as the pirate and the search for the pirate’s sunken ship. 

Behind Her Eyes

****

The problems with Adele slowly build and the plot twists and bends. But slowly, swimming through the thick atmosphere and creeping awareness that  things are not right. 

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

***

The books is mix of archaeology, exploration, adventure, and anthropology. It felt short on all of the ingredients.

Spoiler: They find the Lost City.

Ocean of Storms
There were some interesting elements to the story, just enough to keep me reading. But I found it be a mess and barely worth my time.
Every Last Lie

****

I found this to be a well crafted thriller and gave it it a bonus star for an excellent audiobook production. 

United States of Jihad: Americans Fighting for Militant Islam, from 9/11 to Isis

***

With our current government focused on protecting our borders form Islamic terrorists, I found this book to be a great factual take on our home-grown terrorist problem. It’s not that they are taking orders from ISIS. It’s that they are influenced by its teachings. 

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea

****

With the threat of war (or the crazy rantings about war) with North Korea, I thought I should learn more about the history of the conflict. 

You & a Bike & a Road

****

Ms. Davis chronicles her cycling journey across the southern US in words and sketches. The book is mostly sketches so it’s not a big time commitment.

Farewell Summer
A strange story of a boyhood summer.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

****

I picked up this book because it was the “Big Library Read” selection. I would not normally pickup a YA book about a high school girl coming of age.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (The Tales of Dunk and Egg, #1-3)

****

If you need a bit more Westeros to fill the void.

The book goes back decades before the Ice and Fire saga to give the readers a look at the land before the Game of Thrones timeline.

Fierce Kingdom

*

Meh. I don’t remember how this book ended up on my to-read list. If I did, I would have to go back and question that source. 

Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices

*****

A great book on legal history. It’s good enough that non-lawyers and non-history buffs will also enjoy it. (I think.) 

Artemis

****

Could this book be anything other disappointing? Does Mr. Weir have a second great book in him after The Martian? This book was not it.

On Trails: An Exploration

****

We are Never Meeting in Real Life.

***

The humor didn’t resonate with me. 

Future Home of the Living God

***

The Children of Men from the mother’s perspective. I really enjoyed parts of this story as civilization breaks down.

The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes: From the Velocipede to the Pinarello: The Bicycles that Have Shaped the World

****

I found the book to be a mixed bag. Some of the early items show the progress of cycling and capture the rich history. 

Brave New World

****

A classic dystopian novel. It gets rutted at times in “saying” instead of “showing” the problems with a future civilization. 

The Good Girl

***

I’ve enjoyed the other Kubica books more than this one. It’s her familiar style of multiple point-of-view narrators revealing portions of the story over different timelines.

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

*****

Cutting edge science smashed together with a witty writing and a drizzle of cartoons.

Magpie Murders

*****

A delightfully clever murder mystery wrapped in another mystery, commenting on thequirks and tropes of murder mysteries.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

****

Why the conflicts? Because of the place. A great collection of information on how geography has influenced the economy and military goals of various countries and regions.

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)
****

More of the Wizard Harry Dresden, battling his way through life and solving problems for magical creatures and mortal alike.