Thursday, January 11, 2018

Chloe's Top 10 of 2017

Year two of fifty books and blogging is in the books, and while I didn't quite blog everything I read, I came close (I omitted a handful of YA novels that I now kind of wish I'd done, but I waited too long and couldn't come up with anything good to say). I met my goal of more women (37/50!) and a few more authors of color (I can definitely afford some growth here). As I get older and farther away from school, I notice that nonfiction appeals more and more. Reading is still a luxury and an escape, but it also has become basically my primary source of information. Moving from New Yorker articles to full-blown books was a big jump, but it's one I've enjoyed. More nonfiction in 2018, perhaps! I continue to find that writing about reading is a fabulous way to process and remember what I read; I've loved being able to refer back to two years' worth of reviews when recommending books to friends. Here (in no particular order) are some of my favorites from this year:

  • A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton: Okay, I said in no particular order, but this was the best book I read this year. The characters were fabulous, it was beautifully paced, and it made me think and cry and laugh. Everyone should read this book. 
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: Multigeneration spanning novels often feel awkwardly paced, but this one (and Wilkerson Sexton's for that matter) was artfully done. Her prose is so powerful and her ability to interweave storylines incredible.
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost and Men Explain to Me by Rebecca Solnit: I've always loved essays as a genre, but I've never been big on collections of essays (at least read in one go). Both of these books blew me away. Solnit can expound on a theme better than anyone I know and her phrasing is so gorgeous that her extreme whiteness can be forgiven. 
  • Only The Little Bone by David Huddle: This wasn't so much a novel as a loosely held together collection of vignettes, but it was hauntingly beautiful. I've picked it up a few times since reading it just to re-read the last few pages. 
  • The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg: This is the only graphic novel I read this year (surprising for me!), but it was really fantastic. Feminist fables deserve more airtime, and Greenberg has spun a handful of really beautiful ones here. As is often the case with really good graphic novels (and regular novels too, I guess...), she walks the line between tragic and comic really well, and her drawings are whimsical and pulled the whole thing together. 
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: This was a re-read, but I had almost forgotten how beautiful Ondaatje's prose is. I lost myself in this book more than any other I read this year, and it made me want to read more of him.
  • Shrill by Lindy West: God, this woman is funny. I laughed out loud in public several times reading this, but I also actually literally cried at least three times. I made my husband read it, and I tried to make my dad read it (probably a mistake). This would be have been poignant and relevant a few years ago, but in the era of Trump and Weinstein it felt especially important.
  • The Brothers Vonnegut by Ginger Strand: This wasn't particularly earth-shattering or mind blowing, but it was a really well-written, engaging piece of non-fiction. I tend to like my non-ficiton sciencey, and this struck just the right balance of science, social history, and biography. 
  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward: Ward writes gorgeous, heart-wrenching fiction, so it's no surprise that her memoir followed suit. This was a tough read, but an important one. 
Honorable Mention:
  • Expecting Better by Emily Oster: This was probably the most helpful book I read this year. It was rational and calming and was basically my bible throughout my pregnancy. 
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: This is one of my top ten favorite books of all time, so it seems like cheating to leave it off the list, but it also was not a new discovery (or re-discovery), so I kept it down here. 
2018 is going to bring with it a new addition to the Pinkerton household whose demands may make reading (or at least writing about reading) hard, but I'm going to naively aim for fifty again and see what happens.

I'm extra grateful to my book club who brought me three of these favorites and provides me with badass lady thoughts and insights on a monthly basis. 

Also...shout out to my sister who gifted me 2/10 of my favorites this year, and who is 1/3 people who actually read my blog posts!


Christopher said...


Brent Waggoner said...

This is a great list. I'm going to check a few of these out.

Brent Waggoner said...

Also, having kids will definitely impact your reading time. I highly recommend a Kindle with a backlight so you can read during long hours sitting in the dark.

Source: I have 3 kids