Faves and Stand-Out Reads of 2017

Every year, GoodReads does a nice job of summarizing my reading (I wish they hadn’t been bought out by Amazon).

This year comes up with 281 books or 68,124 pages.

(How do I do it? I neglect many other potentially meaningful aspects of life.)

The numbers alone might seem impressive until one glances at my TBR shelf there, which sits at 8,116 books.

That’s where the numbers become decidedly finger-waggingly annoying.

And, yes, those 8.116 books do figure into my readolutions for 2018.

But, first, 2017’s Memorable Reading Experiences.

281 Books Reads

2016 = 310 books

38%

Beginning with The Building of Jalna (1926)and ending with Centenary at Jalna (1958), I’ve read 6/16 of Mazo de la Roche’s novels so far.

25%

Beginning with Mavis Gallant’s earliest short stories, with plans to read all 123 of her published works, I’ve read 31 of her stories throughout 2017.

0
# Pages Read

Shortest = 42

Longest = 891

Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series

The year began with a reread of the first book in the series. Her Majesty’s Dragon is the title of the first book in Canada, published in 2006, though it is titled differently elsewhere.

I’ve reread this book three times, not only because it’s very good, but because I had previously planned to finish reading the series. This time I actually did, in the company of my bookfriend, Carra.

She kept me motivated to read on, for while neither of us is terrific about finishing series, she is much more devoted than I, and, so, League of Dragons (2016) was my last book of the reading year.

For those who think they do not like books about dragons, I think you would find Temeraire is an exception, and I have heard that the audiobooks are a particular treat.

The Life on Mars Project, began with Lori McNulty’s short story collection, Life on Mars (2017), which gave me the idea to seek out books with the same title. Partly, this just made me giggle. “What are you reading?” Life on Mars. [two weeks later] “What are you reading?” Life on Mars. “Still?” “No!” I’m not sure if this would have been so much fun if the book titles hadn’t included Mars. We’ll see, as I’d like to try this again! (Also, McNulty’s stories are fine. And, Kaggsy, you would love the Calvino-inspired one!

Although it began slowly, and I have been hesitant to recommend the book because it has its challenges, Bernard Assiniwi’s The Beothuk Saga (1996) was an outstanding read for me this year. It took me inside the world of the Beothuks and inspired a mini-gathering project for related reading as well. Although I do not gravitate towards a “book of the year” outlook, if I were that kind of reader, this might be my book.

More than ever, because I was deliberately reading backlist and allowing for more whimsical choices, you have been influencing my reading this year.

Yes, you. You!

If you are reading this, and if we have been bookchatting through the year, over the years, chances are that you have influenced what’s in my stacks.

Which is why the next thing I’m mentioning are some of those reads, although I wish I’d done a more thorough job of noting them throughout the year. But shared reads are often my favourite reads for a year, as much for the sharing of them as the reading of them. (Other more solitary reads which stand out follow these in much the same format I’ve used in recent years.)

Challenges
Reading Africa Hosted by Kinna: Summary
Reading Ireland Hosted by Cathy: Summary
#1951Club Hosted by Kaggsy and Simon: Robertson Davies’ Tempest-Tost (1951)
#1968Club Hosted by Kaggsy and Simon: No Clouds of Glory
Non-Fiction November Hosted by Katie, Lory, Julie and Kim: Summary

Shared reads with bookfriends
Margery Sharp’s The Rescuers (1959) with Jane
N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn (1966) with Caroline
L.M. Montgomery’s Emily Stories (1923; 1925; 1927) with Naomi and Sarah
Barbara Pym’s Quartet in Autumn (1977) with Danielle
Iris Murdoch’s Under the Net (1961) with Liz
Kyo Maclear’s Birds Art Life (2017), inspired by Wendy
Shirin Ebadi’s Until We Are Free (2016) inspired by Ali
Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano (1947) inspired by Mel
Ernesto Quinonez’s Bodega Dreams (1996) inspired by Jorge
Derek Walcott’s Morning, Paramin (2016) inspired by Melissa
Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins (2012) inspired by Laila

Toggle in each category to reveal titles…

Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (2017)
Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters (1988)
Ann Patchett’s This is the story of a happy marriage: essays (2013)

Rachel Cusk’s Outline (2014)
Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners (1974)
Carol Shields’ Unless (2000)

Next, talk of 2018.

Because it has arrived.

On the calendar and on my shelves.

Have you read any of these?

Were you pleased with 2017’s reading?

Anything you’re looking to adjust in 2018?

2018-07-26T14:07:36+00:00

54 Comments

  1. jarrac January 30, 2018 at 4:51 am - Reply

    I must admit that I’m not very good at getting around to visit your website. hangs head in shame But here I am now, and I enjoyed your 2017 round up. Even though I know that you are a ferocious reader, I am in awe that you read 281 books last year!!! And here I was impressed by my own 186… 😉 59,776 pages in all; the longest was 1,169 pages (IT by Stephen King) the shortest 64 pages (How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman). The GR challenge goal was actually 150 books, so I think I did pretty good anyway.

    Not so sure that I am more determined than you to finish series, but I thank thee nevertheless. 😉 Our Temeraire project was great fun. Couldn’t have done it without you – I would have perished in the Australian backyard, as you know, if not before. 😉

    • Buried In Print January 30, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      It’s lovely to see you here, so I hope you are able to find your way back before long. And that’s quite an achievement: don’t let the statistics born of my particular brand of obsession reduce your satisfaction with an awesome reading year. Also, there should be a special award for having finished reading It. (If Deepika is reading this, she will agree and present you with the appropriate virtual trophy!) I bought a new copy last September (because it’s one of the books I’ve gotten stuck in over the years) with an eye to reading it before seeing the film and, well, it’s out of the theatres now (maybe best viewed on a smaller screen anyhow) and I’m still poised between chapters one and two. I still think it’s hilarious that you nearly gave up on Temeraire in the Australia section because I still have such fond memories of that respite. Clearly we would not make good travelling companions, as you’d want to be off adventuring and I’d be wanting to sit on the porch in the outback!

  2. Alley January 26, 2018 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    281 books, that’s amazing!! You have your priorities straight. Here’s to more great reads in 2018

    • Buried In Print January 29, 2018 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      All those dropped balls languishing on the floor can just roll themselves into a corner, then, cuz my juggling act has your seal of approval!

      And a good reading year to you too!

  3. Laila@BigReadingLife January 23, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    I love the format of your year in review! And thanks for the shoutout on Beautiful Ruins. I am happy to inspire anyone to read that book. I was just looking at Jess Walter’s website to see if he had any new novels coming out soon, and no luck. Then I remember that he takes 3-4 years between books, so I will try to be patient and know that it will be worth the wait. It’s not like I don’t have plenty to keep me occupied! 🙂

    • Buried In Print January 24, 2018 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Thanks, Laila! I’m lucky that I have all the others of his to read in the meantime. But, as you say, knowing that there are other books available doesn’t always stop one from craving a new book from a favourite author. I saw a copy of Ali Smith’s Winter on the New shelves today and had to give myself a good talking to, convincing myself to leave it be, given how far behind I’ve fallen with her other books. New and shiny books: so tempting!

  4. jessicabookworm January 20, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Sounds like you had an amazing year of reading in 2017! While my numbers are no where near yours, I too think 2017 was a great year of reading for me. In 2018 I am just hoping to continue to make more time for re-reads and new-to-me books by favourite authors. Happy reading!

    • Buried In Print January 24, 2018 at 11:36 am - Reply

      Re-reading is awesome. I made time for more of it this year, but didn’t quite resume it regularly enough to feel as though it was a habit (as it once was for me). I’d like to do just a little more of it!

  5. Wendy January 19, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    What a great summary of 2017! I’m going to add “her Majesty’s Dragon to my to read list! I really do believe that when I turn 90 I’m not going to regret having not cleaned my house more but I’ll still have a long list of books to read!! did you enjoy Birds Art Life? I read Ivan Coyote’s book based on your comments and was really glad I did. take care Wendy

    • Buried In Print January 19, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      I hope you enjoy Her Majesty’s Dragon; if you do, you will have a lovely set of books ahead of you, pleasantly entertaining but still thoughtful — and with an undercurrent of compassion and hope. Birds, Art, Life was one I read in an evening and the next day; I found it strangely un-put-down-able, even though, at the same time, I felt as though I should be taking more time with it. I loved the sense of discovery and attentiveness, the dance between memoir and musing. Have you read any of her fiction? I was pleased to see Ivan Coyote’s book listed on this year’s Canada Reads longlist. I’ve been ambivalent about the event recently, but I do think it’s a work worth more attention and it could generate some important discussions. Thanks, Wendy: you too!

  6. Naomi January 18, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I’ll be joining your little visiting group for houses that don’t get cleaned. Although, no matter how hard I try (and I try very hard), my sacrifices will never amount to over 100 books. I think my record is 94. Perhaps I need to start neglecting the children as well? 😉
    I absolutely love the way you set up this post, and especially your “toggles”.
    My tbr # is like yours… it includes all the books I want to read at the library. 🙂

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      shifts over on the sofa I’m so glad nobody here will be looking askance at the dust-critters! And, oh, yes, that would free up gobs of time! You can begin by experimenting with some smaller steps, which one can call “encouraging independence”, which should easily get you over 100, before entertaining the possibiltiies of full-out neglect. I mean, your kids are older now: if you’re providing food and shelter, everything else is excess, no? 🙂

      Thanks, Naomi. The “toggles” are a lot of fussing, so it’s like to know they have a small fan club. Just now, I can’t think of what you call them when only one of them can be open on the screen at one time (accordions, maybe?), which I also think are fun, but I would hate that if I was trying to make a list of books, and as I often scribble down recommendations from other people’s bookchat, I opted for “toggles” instead, so someone can theoretically open them all at once, if so desired!

      Has your TBR gotten any bigger since you’ve been at the library more often? Mine is growing a little less because I am reviewing fewer catalogues/newsletters/magazines, but I’m still a little overwhelmed by its rate of growth!

      • Naomi January 18, 2018 at 6:35 pm - Reply

        I like your way of looking at “child care”! But I’m pretty sure my kids wouldn’t let me neglect them. They seem to like me a lot. Especially at night when they should be sleeping!

        Working at the library is making it so much harder to keep my numbers down! What I do mostly there is re-shelve books, and go through making sure everything’s where it should be. So I have come across A LOT of books I want to read – ones I’ve forgotten about but have re-discovered, ones on my various lists, and ones I didn’t know I wanted to read until I saw them. I have to be really, really careful!
        I’ve also come up with all new projects in my head as I work, such as reading every maple leaf I come across on the shelves, in order, that I haven’t already read. Sigh.

        • Buried In Print January 19, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

          Maybe you can find a quiet corner in the library and read for just a few extra minutes every shift (and call it “acquainting yourself with the collection”, followed by super-speed re-shelving to make up for the lapse) so that you can continue to be such a responsive parent and still read more! I know you don’t watch much TV so Rebecca’s idea won’t help you much.

          That’s just how I was imagining the work would be, if it was me in that position (I’d love to reshelve books), all the projects I’d imagine. Oh, boy. Every few library visits, I spend a longer time lingering in the stacks, pulling unusual things off the shelves, and I nearly always come home with an extra 6-8 books that I’ve never heard of which are suddenly the most interesting books EVER. If I was working there, that would probably be me every single shift. I’m looking forward to the excessive number of new project headers on your blog!

          • Naomi January 19, 2018 at 2:14 pm - Reply

            Eek! No more new project headers for a while I hope!

            We think alike! You have just described perfectly what I do do at work – I read many book flaps to “acquaint myself with the collection” and then I just skip my break to make up for it! What a team we’d make if we worked together. 🙂

            • Buried In Print January 19, 2018 at 5:58 pm

              The only thing more fun would be just hanging out together in a building full of books in which nobody was expecting us to do anything!

      • raidergirl3 January 19, 2018 at 7:36 pm - Reply

        Neglecting children/instilling independence – same same. I used to said that when the kids were young that teaching them to make PB &J sandwiches was about independence, not that I didn’t want to get off the couch.

        Naomi – I upped my reading numbers when I started listening to audiobooks more consistently. It allowed me to read a bit when I walked (ideally) or played Candy Crush (more likely)

        • Naomi January 21, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

          That’s a good way of looking at it… independence!

          I can’t seem to get into the audio books. I don’t drive enough, and I don’t seem to be good at listening and doing something else at the same time. I’ve tried doing it with podcasts, but I always end up sitting down to listen to most of it. So I might as well be reading!

  7. Rebecca Foster January 18, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Ha ha, I loved the line “I neglect many other potentially meaningful aspects of life.” That certainly resonates for me, although one could debate the value of the things I’ve eschewed (a television vs. having kids). I could certainly do with more exercise and social activities, though.

    I think some people must be baffled by readers like you and me, because we dabble in so many genres and subjects. I have a Goodreads friend who seems to read only 1) ghost stories and 2) contemporary fiction, the more postmodern or metafictional the better. How easy she must have it when she looks at catalogues, etc., I think! Instead of 30 titles jumping out to her from every list of most anticipated books, she’ll just target the 1 or 2 that interest her. Sigh.

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Value is always relative: best to avoid those conversations and read! 🙂 We haven’t had a TV for 13 years now, and it definitely made a difference in terms of reading time initially, but now that one can stream things, that does take time from reading. I have an app that tracks the show I watch, which doesn’t deter me from watching things I want to watch, it just operates as a check-in, so that I’m aware of the time accumulating. (Then I’m not allowed to moan and groan when the library stack hasn’t budged because I’ve watched an entire season of “Black Mirror”!)

      I envy that kind of simplicity too. Many other readers who were interested in the Giller Prize longlist were interested in only a couple of the books on there, with topics or styles that seemed appealing, and I know I used to take that kind of approach, but now I find everything interesting and the stacks sure get crowded quickly. Which is sometimes a matter of “yum” and sometimes “yikes”, depending on one’s outlook on a given day!

      • Rebecca Foster January 19, 2018 at 5:41 am - Reply

        We’ve been without a TV for 4.5 years now, I think. I rarely miss it. In the UK you have to have a TV licence even to watch catch-up programs online, so I can’t watch the occasional costume drama that appeals. We have a handful of DVD box sets but hardly ever find time to watch them, apart from a half-hour of comedy every once in a while.

        • Buried In Print January 19, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

          I went into a bit of a panic when I couldn’t find (at first) a way to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale”, but it sounds much more complicated in the UK (which is, as you say, a boon). I seem to remember that your list for 2017 was more like my 2016 (when I was watching far fewer shows) and now am wondering if it could really be the shows which have made the difference. It doesn’t matter in one sense, as I’m content with what I’m watching (and have a film challenge I aim for too) but, in the other sense, when one’s TBR is of ridiculous proportions, I feel I do need to consider it – make sure I’m happy with the choices. Are you still actively working on the length of your TBR (on GR)?

          • Rebecca Foster January 19, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

            Last year I got my Goodreads TBR down to 5500, but what with adding 2018 titles I’m interested in it’s back up to just over 5700. I feel like I’ve done all the obvious to reduce it, and don’t see how I’d get rid of big swathes. If I see a negative review from a trusted reviewer or spot a duplicate, I’ll remove a book, but I’m not really actively cutting it anymore.

            • Buried In Print January 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

              Ah, well, then we are probably in about the same predicament, the greater number on mine being due to being older, as we seem to add at about the same rate and with the same enthusiasm (and are equally reluctant to remove, unless for obvious reasons). This is the first year I’ve made a note of the total at the beginning of the reading year, so at the end of the year, I’ll have some idea how quicky my dreams of reading outrun the reality of pages turned!

  8. Liz Dexter January 18, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Amazing – the most books I ever read in a year was 241 and that was the year I lived in South London and worked in the very northest of North London with a train commute each way and I only knew about two people in London AND I had a long-distance relationship.

    Chuffed I got a mention with my Iris Murdoch readalong and I’m in very good company there. Happy reading for 2018!

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

      So this year was a similar one to your 241-year, I suspect, as I read graphic novels and poetry too, which could easily have made up that difference (I recall primarily literary fiction on your posts, but maybe I’m misremembering). Yes, I’m on chapter six of The Sandcastle now. I’m still disappointed that I couldn’t manage to find a copy of Flight of the Enchanter (and I haven’t yet keyed in Under the Net, but I do have my notes) but perhaps one will show up this year (well, unlikely at the library, but perhaps in a second-hand shop).

      • Rebecca Foster January 18, 2018 at 10:59 am - Reply

        Graphic novels, poetry, novellas — great ways to bolster a book list 😉

        • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

          Exactly! And when you are reading a lot of prose-heavy stuff, they feel like essential elements in the stacks. I don’t think I could read as many books, overall, if I wasn’t mixing things up a good bit along the way. You probably know what I mean, given we have similar numbers for a given reading year.

      • Liz Dexter January 23, 2018 at 3:29 am - Reply

        I don’t see myself as reading so much literary fiction as mid-century women’s fiction, I certainly don’t read much modern lit fic. I also read a lot of non-fiction, memoirs, music books and sports memoirs / running books. It’s interesting how one is seen by others, though!

        • Buried In Print January 24, 2018 at 11:47 am - Reply

          I suppose my idea of your reading habits is rooted in your Murdoch-reading project, and your past experience with her work, as I wasn’t following your reading until someone (maybe Kaggsy or Ali?) mentioned the readalong you’re hosting. I’ve just finished The Sandcastle, BTW, which I quite enjoyed (an academic setting always gets to me)!

          • Liz Dexter January 29, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

            Ah, that makes sense! Have I had a link to your review of The Sandcastle yet? I’ve got a bit confused with who’s commented and who’s reviewed!

            • Buried In Print January 29, 2018 at 2:44 pm

              So far, I’ve only commented and tweeted. My post is scheduled for Feburary 15, and unfortunately the library is missing The Bell, although I have read that one, so I’ll see if I can find my notes.

  9. heavenali January 18, 2018 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Your numbers make my jaw drop. I was pleased with the quality of books I read in 2017 not so much the quantity. 2017 was the smallest total for about a decade. I have recently counted my tbr and with real and kindle books added together I have around 270 books.
    Whatever you read this year – I do hope it’s brilliant.

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

      So you count only the books you own towards your TBR? That would be a more reasonable approach. I haven’t calculated it (now you’ve made me curious, though), but I’m certain that the majority of the books on my TBR are not books I own. So it’s another way of dreaming, I suppose. Good reading to you this year, too, Ali!

      • heavenali January 18, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

        Those are books I own but haven’t read. There are probably another 600/700 in the house that I have read sometime in the past.

        • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

          Oh, yes: I assumed that your shelves were cosied up with an abundance of read-and-adored types. Actually, your newest shelves are conveniently lodged in my memory thanks to your lovely photos. Although I do wonder: have you, finally, filled the bottom ones?

  10. annelogan17 January 17, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Excuse my language but…HOLY SHIT 281 BOOKS???? That is downright insane, and I am extremely jealous of you. Tell me, do you forget to eat sometimes? Do you read while eating? How many hours of sleep do you get a night? What is your secret???

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 7:59 am - Reply

      Yup, it’s definitely a life out-of-balance! And, yes, sometimes I forget to eat (but not often, cuz I love food) and, yes, I nearly always read while eating, and I have recently installed a sleep app on my phone, which I believe is going to sleep for me (others might say it’s a tracker, but I’m convinced its abilities can be harnessed somehow, for the reading good). SO these ideas are putting you on the right track for sure!

  11. Judith January 17, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Ohmigosh! What a fascinating post and collection and analyses of books read in a single year! I will be returning again and again to study your list. Thank you so much for the effort put into sharing it all!

    • Buried In Print January 18, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Thanks, Judith. It was a very satisfying reading year. And it’s very nice to see you out and about in blog-land again! passes cup of tea

  12. Iliana January 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Fabulous reading year! I love that even though you read a great number of books you still have tons on your TBR. At this point, I don’t have TBR stacks, I have TBR shelves. Now if only I could read faster but oh well. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Iliana! And it’s true: things progress — from stacks to shelves to cases to rooms. And I suppose more than 8,000 titles would fill a small bungalow, but I don’t own all of those, so I’m thankful to libraries (and, in particular, the 100 branch libraries in the Toronto system, for storing so many of these for my future reading pleasure).

  13. raidergirl3 January 17, 2018 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    (How do I do it? I neglect many other potentially meaningful aspects of life.)

    LOL, I actually did at this line. People don’t understand the house cleaning that gets sacrificed to be able to read like we do. I appreciate how much you neglect!
    I’ll come back to read more, because there is a lot in this post, and I want to see the categories.
    Elizabeth

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Too bad you didn’t live closer: we could be understanding visitors for one another, making loud assurances that the dust-critters and layers of grime are of no consequence. (I’m curious to see how much overlap there has been in our reading this year.)

      • raidergirl3 January 19, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

        Wouldn’t that be fun! And after ignoring the dust, we could exchange books.
        Also, after reading I Contain Multitudes, I have new appreciation for the critters we can’t see and the benefits of not super cleaning. I’m convinced my kids are healthier for having been exposed to the multitudes.

  14. kaggsysbookishramblings January 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    That’s a good reading year! Glad you could join in with the club reading and make sure not to miss the next one! :))

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      I’m already eyeing that Margaret Atwood collection you highlighted: it’s one I’ve missed and I’m eager to read it!

  15. Caroline January 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Btw – I’m so glad to hear you like Novik’s series so much because I got the first one here.

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      I think you will really enjoy them, and I suspect it’s just the kind of story you’re craving these days!

  16. Caroline January 17, 2018 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    An amazing number of books! I can hardly believe it. It was wonderful to read along with you. I hope there will be another opportunity this year although the Literature and War Readalong is on some sort of hiatus.
    I too wish you another great reading year.

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      Books are ever-patient: when the RAL is back in gear, I’ll be interested to see what’s on your reading list!

  17. A Life in Books January 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I’m both aghast and impressed! Here’s to another happy reading year for you.

    • Buried In Print January 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      And to you, as well, Susan: now that I’m following your updates, I’ll be reading more of your recommendations as well!

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