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100 Books: Winter/Spring Favorites

In 2016, I read just over 90 new books. I decided to set a goal for 100 books in 2017, knowing that I’d be home with the baby for much of the year, nursing with Kindle in hand or taking walks with my Audible app. 100 books is a true challenge, and I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m giving it my best. I’m at 40 right now, which is pretty close to par, but I’ll have to read more in the summer to make up for my busy fall.

Why did I choose to set a book-reading goal? Partly for bragging rights: 100 books seems like a decent number, although many in my online book club read far more than that. Mostly, it’s this: if you read a lot of books, you have to cast your book-search net wide. Variety abounds. I’m pairing romances with sci-fi, nonfiction with literary fiction, mysteries with memoir. And the more books I read, the more great books I’m able to find.

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My last few weeks of reading, from Goodreads.

Below are my favorites from the year so far; I am recommending them to all my friends (including you). A long list, because I missed doing a winter update! I’m going to try to keep it brief by writing just a sentence or two after each title.

Life-Changing Nonfiction

Deep Work by Cal Newport made me mindful of the distractions that were keeping me from doing my best writing. I made changes to my social media consumption and phone notifications after reading this book.

Thrive by Ariana Huffington reminded me of the importance of self-care, and (even more important) of serving others.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron gave me a new framework for understanding myself and my sensitive family members.

Secrets From The Eating Lab by Traci Mann was the anti-diet, health-centered book that I needed to stop stressing on the weeks that the baby weight won’t budge.

Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss taught me that negotiation doesn’t have to be scary; it can even be exhilarating.

Amazing Fiction

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel changed the way I thought about families, gender identification, and the weight of parenting. (It was my favorite book read in the online Modern Mrs. Darcy book club so far; the author book chat with Laurie Frankel was amazing.)

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was a thrilling read from start to finish. It’s been compared to The Girl On The Train, but I think this one is much better. (I’m still looking forward to Paula Hawkins’ newest, though.)

My Not-So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was the most fun book I’ve listened to in ages. I was bummed when it ended. It wasn’t what I expected from the outset, and the themes went deeper than most Kinsella novels.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was as amazing as the hype. I learned so much about the Black Lives Matter movement and black culture in general. This should be the top of the list for those who prioritize diversity on their bookshelves.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson delighted me. The plot was light, fun, yet surprisingly engaging, especially for a history-lover. I love a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Memorable Memoir

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah blew me away. I’m a much bigger fan of Trevor Noah now, even though I stopped religiously watching The Daily Show after Jon Stewart left. He’s brilliant and funny, and his stories about growing up in South Africa are incredible.

Vital Writing Craft Book

Story Genius by Lisa Cron helped me so much while planning draft 2 of Blizzard. I used her ‘scene cards’ system to ensure that every scene had an emotional arc as well as a plot point.

What were the best books you’ve read so far in 2017? Have you set a reading goal for the year?

4 Responses to “100 Books: Winter/Spring Favorites”

  1. I haven’t set a specific reading goal this year, unless it’s to read more thoughtfully and not just read a lot. I typically read more than 100 books a year, since I read for pleasure and for research, but I wish I could retain more of what I read. Like L.M. Montgomery, I’m a book drunkard.

    As for the best books I’ve read this year so far, I’d list:
    For memoir: A Three Dog Life (Abigail Thomas) or Growing Girls (Jeanne Marie Laskas)
    Fiction: Moshi Moshi (Banana Yoshimoto)
    Writing: The Memoir Project (Marion Roach Smith)
    Essays: Findings (Kathleen Jamie)

    I loved Deep Work, too, and want to use what I learned from it more regularly. There are several books on your list I haven’t read and that sound good. I haven’t sent back your sign-up bonus email yet for a book recommendation, but I plan to!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Kathy, I love that we’re both big readers and yet I don’t know ANY of the books on your list. It’s amazing how much is dictated by where you go to find new reads. Where do you typically find books?

  2. 40 books already?? :O I’m just on my 20th of the year – though at this rate, I’m already on track to beat my reading total for last year. But who’s counting, really? *lol*

    I really want to read The Hate U Give. It sounds like such an important book for teens and the world at large right now, and it’s great to see it doing so well. (Apparently it’s been on the NYT YA bestseller Top 10 every week since its debut.)

    As for my favorite reads so far this, my favorite new books have been Katharine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology; and some of my pre-2016 favorites are V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series (I binge-read all three books over the winter), Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

  3. Leanne, to answer your question about where I find my book recommendations, I would have to say “everywhere”! I’ve read all of Jeanne Marie Laskas’ books after stumbling on 50 Acres and a Poodle years ago (one of my all time favorite books), and I found Three Dog Life in my library’s used book store. I read about Moshi Moshi on LitHub (I think). And I can’t even remember where I heard about Findings. Jeff Goins recommended The Memoir Project. I’ve taken book recommendations from you, Laura Vanderkam, and two of my favorite book bloggers are Dani at A Work in Progress and Belle at Belle, Book and Candle.

    I’m beginning to see why my TBR list is impossibly long.

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