While 2017 was perhaps my least productive writing year ever – even the poetry I scribbled in the sixth grade amounted to more worthy words than I managed within the last twelve months – I did read some incredible books.
And I am trying to take it easy on myself, especially after seeing one of the excellent Lucy Knisley‘s daily comics yesterday.
I think for creators the world over, especially here at home and especially, especially those of us whose work is not inherently social or political, it’s an incredibly challenging time to make things. Mostly it feels damned selfish, when energies could be better spent collaborating with, advocating for and elevating the voices and struggles of those who are being ruthlessly targeted in our current political climate. So I’ve been endeavoring to be a better human and friend, and escaping at night not as often into worlds of my own creation, but into those of others.
I’ve got higher hopes for 2018. Or so I am telling myself.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine combined two of my favorite things: a 1920s aesthetic and a fairy tale retelling – one of my favorites, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The freedom the princesses yearned for in the original tale is such a delightful fit for the expanding social boundaries of the Jazz Age, I’m surprised this hasn’t been attempted before. But, thrilled that someone as skilled as Valentine did it.
I read a lot of Shannon Hale this year but Book of a Thousand Days was by far my favorite. Another fairy tale retelling, and such a unique lens. Dashti was tough and brilliant and I absolutely loved her as a narrator – the journal format doesn’t work for many books, but like Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper: A Tortall Legend series, it works so well here. This is definitely a book I can’t wait to share with my girls when they are a little bit older.
Side note, I’ve become obsessed with the move adaption of Austenland. I’ve watched it three times since finishing the book and it’s become my go-to guilty pleasure film.
I did a lot of traveling in 2017 which meant a lot of devouring comics on airplanes. Rat Queens absolutely stole my heart, and probably nicked bits of my soul and charged some suspicious things to my credit card, too. I’m so cool with it. While the first few volumes are strongest, in my opinion, I’d recommend the whole series to anyone who enjoys rowdy ladies.
There is so much to be enchanted by in The Bear and the Nightingale that I am not even sure where to begin – the characters are real and flawed and fascinating, the writing is absolutely lovely and the world Arden has crafted is both haunting and beautiful. I wanted all of the creepiness and the mystery and the feelings. A book I’d wish I’d written if it weren’t for the joy of having read it.
I didn’t actively avoid reading Rainbow Rowell but somehow I’d never managed to read her work until I picked up a copy of Landline at a library used book sale – and my goodness, did I read this at the absolute perfect time. As a many-years-married creative-type in my thirties, this book was so sweet and stirring and affirming. I loved Georgie. I loved Neal. I know Georgie and Neal. I cried and cried reading this book and told my husband all about it. I feel like if i weren’t quite who I am, right now, it might not have resonated as much for me. But I am and it so did.
What about you? What were your favorite reads last year?