The Books I Read in 2017

2017 was a good year of reading for me – 43 books, of which 24 were written by women!  Although I’m still using my Kindle quite a lot, a job move in the summer meant that I was in close proximity to a good Blackwells with lots of enticing 3 for 2 offers.  I love a good 3 for 2, and I never quite forgave Waterstones for shunning them; I love that I will buy two books that I really want to read and then use the third book as an opportunity for a bit of literary risk-taking.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry This received a LOT of hype and, while I enjoyed it, there wasn’t that much going on with it.  It sort of fizzled out for me.

Fun House – Alison Bechdel An inspired birthday present from Chris, who reckoned that this would be a good choice for a graphic-novel loving feminist; he was completely spot-on with this.  I’d heard of the Bechdel Test, but hadn’t realised that Alison Bechdel is a great writer and artist.  Totally recommend this!


Jerusalem – Alan Moore This was a bit of a whopper – slightly concerning when the reviews had been mixed, at best.  I really enjoyed this, despite the fact that it needed a more thorough edit.  There are some fantastic ideas in this book, and the characters and imagery have stayed with me.

The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante I read the first volume last year on Kindle and then requested all of them for my birthday.  I’ll say more on them later…

The Power Naomi Alderman – I enjoyed this, but it’s not as substantial as reading Atwood.

Thatcher Stole My Trousers – Alexei Sayle

So Much for That – Lionel Shriver

The Noise of Time – Julian Barnes This is a fictionalised account of Shostakovich’s struggles under Stalin.  Very moving.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay – Elena Ferrante

Huey Morgan’s Rebel Heroes – Huey Morgan

Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History – Richard Evans I’m still a bit obsessed with alternate history, so went all meta on my own ass!

Middlemarch – George Eliot I had never read this, or any George Eliot for that matter, and really enjoyed it.

An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir – Ariel Leve

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 – Lionel Shriver This was a great apocalyptic romp!

Wind/Pinball – Haruki Murakami

The Story of the Lost Child – Elena Ferrante I enjoyed the quartet as a whole; loved the growing politicisation of the characters and the increasing anger at the patriarchy.  The final novel felt a bit rushed (perhaps I just wanted to spend more time with the characters).

American Gods – Neil Gaiman I enjoyed this, and also the TV series.

Number 11 – Jonathan Coe

Commonwealth – Ann Patchett

The Underground Railroad – Colston Whitehead 

This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell

The Lauras – Sara Taylor

Dominion – C.J. Sansom

Swing Time – Zadie Smith I had really been looking forward to this. I was a bit disappointed – it lacked depth.

In Search of Lost Time. Volume 1: Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust Surprisingly readable! I was hooked from the first page; Proust describes a particular experience of falling asleep that I had thought was just one of my own peculiarities.  To be fair, I became less engrossed as I waded through; it’s a bit of an endurance test.

Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone – Olivia Laing

Garden Cities – Sarah Rutherford

Alan Partridge: Nomad – Alan Partridge

Autumn – Ali Smith

A Horse Walks into a Bar – David Grossman I think this was my least favourite – not funny, just bitter and a bit pointless.

The Allegations – Mark Lawson

Man with a Seagull on His Head – Harriet Paige

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip – Alexander Masters

Wake Up, Sir! – Jonathan Ames

How to Survive a Plague – David France I think that this was my favourite book of the year! It looks at the AIDS crisis of the 1980s from scientific, historical, and personal perspectives.  The utter abandonment of the gay community by the US government should never be forgotten; likewise the grit and determination of young AIDS activists – many of whom had non-scientific backgrounds – is an example to us all in these dark days.  I really can’t recommend this enough.

Forest Dark – Nicole Krauss

All at Sea – Decca Aitkenhead

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails – Sarah Bakewell

Women and Power: A Manifesto – Mary Beard

Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

So, that’s my 2017.  How did you do? Any recommendations for me?


7 responses »

  1. Didn’t read nearly near enough but kept adding to the ever growing list of things I want to read and this list has added a few haha. I enjoyed birdbox by josh mallerman recently and also heart shaped box by joe hill.

  2. You’ve inspired me to keep going with Jerusalem by Alan Moore. I’m only about 120 pages in and thinking I picked the wrong book to start the year with. My shoulders certainly aren’t appreciating lugging the hard cover around, that’s for sure. I really should get an e-reader.

    I figured it would be more of a straight narrative than it is, as opposed to each chapter feeling like a short story (so far, I’m hoping things bleed together more as it goes on). It reminds me of his first novel, Voice of the Fire, which was similar so I shouldn’t be too surprised. I can already see what you mean by the editing, you pretty much need a map to follow the intensely detailed street and location descriptions. I’m hoping there is a point to those too.

    • You should definitely persevere with it! It does all start to fit together in quite a pleasing way. I also read it in hard copy – started to get wrist-ache from holding it! Treat it as a work out 🙂

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