I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas yesterday! We had a truly lovely holiday at our house, and I went to bed last night completely worn out, but with a heart full and happy, feeling so grateful for this little family of mine. I tucked both my kids into bed, clutching new books they got for Christmas, and it makes my heart so happy to see them loving the written word.
On to other things-
Who doesn't love a good top 10 list?! 2017 was a great year for books around here- some truly wonderful ones made their way to me. Also, I purposely read more non-fiction this year, and loved much of it as well- especially books that marry the memoir and self-help genres. I love hearing people's stories and learning something along the way too. Not all of these books were released in 2017- I am by no means a new release snob, but they were all new to me this year. You may recognize many of them from the book choices offered by Cozy Read- I whole heartedly endorse them, and am proud to include these lovely, touching books in our boxes. So, without further adieu, my top 10 favorite reads of this past year. (Most of the books below have been described and reviewed on the blog previously. If you want more information about the book, click on the picture or the link in the title and it will take you to the blog post, so you can really dive deep into the book description.)
10. The Enchanted April- Published in 1922, this is by no means a new release! It is a beautiful story of friendship, burnout recovery, Tuscany (my favorite location), love, and renewal. Written in a style very similar to Jane Austen, it is a delight to read, and the relationships are very relatable. You can't help but be changed for the better by reading this tender book.
9. The Year of Living Danishly- When Helen's husband accepts a job with Lego in rural Denmark, they leave behind their London apartment and city life, and end up finding more in Denmark than they ever imagined. Helen, a journalist, investigates what makes Danes the happiest people in the world, and learns much that benefits her, and can benefit you too, no matter where you live. You fall in love with Helen and close this book wanting to move to Denmark (I've been trying to get my husband to apply for a job in Copenhagen ever since I read it).
8. Eat, Pray Love- I know this book came out forever ago, and has even been made into a movie, and I am the last woman in the US to read it, but- wow! Recovering from burnout myself this year, I really loved Liz's insight's and experiences. I've always dreamed of going to Italy myself, I have been to Indonesia, and would love to go to India someday, so this book was right up my alley. I have come to many of the same realizations that Liz did, although mine happened at home, but it was so fun to read about her journey both of self-discovery and her travels around the world- a great book to help you know you're not alone if you are also working through burnout or just seeking more purpose or meaning in your life.
7. The Essex Serpent- Set in superstitious rural coastal England in the late 1800's, the Essex Serpent follow's an unconventional widow's investigation into the strange occurrence being billed as the serpent. She finds more than just information about the serpent during her time in Essex- friendship, love, and herself. The prose of this book is some of the finest I've ever read- it's a true literary joy as well an an engaging story.
6. Prayers of a Stranger- Following the story of a woman who is struggling to overcome the heartache of a miscarriage, who is also struggling in her marriage and professionally, this deeply moving story takes her to the Holy Land at Christmastime. There she discovers the true beauty of Christmas- the miracle that Christ's love can heal any hurt. This book moved me more than anything I've read in a long time, and I happily gave it as a Christmas gift to multiple people this Christmas myself.
5. Remarkable Creatures- Before reading this book, I had no idea that the first dinosaur skeleton was discovered by a woman! Her name was Mary Anning. and this book follows her discovery, as well as a beautiful friendship between Mary, who was an uneducated and poor country girl, and Elizabeth Philpot, an unmarried, educated, wealthy, science-minded woman who has come to the country and helps Mary make the most of her discovery. Incredibly fascinating and beautifully told- a story not to be missed.
4. The Wonder- Set in the mid-1800's in Ireland, a family claims their daughter is a living miracle, subsisting on nothing but air and The Spirit. Their claims are disputed, and Lib, one of Florence Nightengale's trained nurses, is called in to be an observational party to prove the family's claim. However, Lib fooled at first, soon discovers there is much more going on than the family or community have portrayed. She saves the child in a daring rescue, ending the book fabulously. This novel held me enthralled page after page.
3. The Rent Collector- Set in a garbage dump in Cambodia, the Rent Collector follows one woman's journey to try to help her ailing son, to find happiness, to learn to read, and to get to know one of her neighbors, who is not just the cranky woman she appears to be, but has a truly touching story. This book leaves you recognizing that no matter your circumstance, all humans want the same things- to be safe and to be loved, and it's a beautiful experience to be able to connect to that with the characters of this book.
2. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane- the story of a girl who becomes pregnant out of wedlock and gives the baby up for adoption in secret, rather than submit to her tribe's tradition of killing the baby. She embarks on a path of education that takes her out of China's mountains and changes her as she opens a tea shop in the city. She is always searching for her daughter, who was adopted by Americans, and who feels an undeniable pull to her birth land. The reunion in this book is breathtaking, and there isn't enough room on this blog to fully examine the beauty that this book contains. Read it!
1. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- Harold, recently retired, goes out to mail a letter to a friend he has just found out is dying of cancer. Feeling he didn't quite say what he wanted to in the letter, he pushes on to the next mailbox to mail it, but can't bring himself to mail it there either. So begins his journey, as he pushes forward and forward, eventually walking over 600 miles to deliver his letter in person to his friend. Along the way, he finds friends, celebrity, difficulty, hope, pain, and joy. You root for him, cry with him, and encourage him. This book has a magical way to make you feel deeply attached to its main character. How I loved it, and I hope you will too.
There you have it- wonderful books, touching stories, enjoyable ways to spend your time. The beauty of books is that they let you live another life, experience the world from another point of view, go places and learn about cultures outside your own- and each and every book on this list did that for me this year. I know I am a better person for having read them.
What was your favorite read of 2017? I'd love to hear it, so I can put it on my list of books to read in 2018, and please let me know if you loved any of my top 10 2017 books too- it's one of the joys of reading to connect with other people who love the books you love. Happy reading!