Before anyone thinks that this is a list of books from 2017 that I liked – stop right there. I don’t read many new books. Ergo, the title is “My Favourite Reads of 2017” not “My Favourite Books of 2017.” See?? Alright, we can continue.
I definitely didn’t read as many books as I am usually prone to doing, but that means I can just move on up from here and read more next year!
Without further ado, here is my top ten list (the ordering could probably be shifted around a bit as always).
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
This novel dragged at parts but had me needing to know what happens to Dmitri in others. Dmitri was most definitely my favourite character. I have to say I prefer the general plot and character development to Dostoevsky’s writing style, but it was still a very very good novel and I will try some others of his.
9. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
The writer’s own reflection on his grief after his wife’s death, and how he was led to healing. Short, but poignant.
8. The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis
According to the little I’ve read on Brazilian literature, Machado de Assis is one of their best/famous writers. This novel was definitely a very different read for me – it is written in a very playful way. The narrative voice reminded me a little bit of The Book Thief, actually.
7. Three to Get Married by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
A very lovely read. I highly recommend this one.
6. A Soldier Surrenders by Susan Peek
This book was about St. Camillus de Lellis, who I had never heard about before. The author refers to him as a saint for “the rest of us,” as contrasted with saints like St. Paul and St. Augustine, who lived sinful lives – but after their conversion, seemed to never fall into sin again. This guy is definitely on my Favourite Saints and Saints I Can Actually Relate To lists. This book was written in a very heartfelt manner and made me tear up a couple times.
5. Joseph Pearce, Tolkien: Man and Myth
I’ve loved Pearce ever since I started reading him because his writing is just both so informative and enjoyable to read, and this book was no exception. I read this one for my capstone project on the hobbits’ respective traumas leading to their different levels of maturity, and it was definitely one of the few I liked so much I had to read the entire book. Other notable mention(s): The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood (I loved that one a LOT).
4. Neil Gaiman, Coraline
Since I loved the movie so much, I wanted to finally read the book (plus, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a Gaiman novel for a while). This book definitely didn’t disappoint, and I can add it to my list of Books-Whose-Movies-Were-Actually-Accurate-Representations (yes, I know this is ungrammatical) along with reads like Anne of Green Gables.
3. Simon Tolkien, No Man’s Land
So much different than his grandfather’s writing, but also amazing. I’ve always loved World War II fiction since I was young; this one was a World-War-I novel, but it was just as interesting. The characters drew me in and I loved how the conflict between the villain and the main character, and the marriage by convenience, were written so realistically. I couldn’t stop reading this book once I started, it was that good.
2. Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Tales
I had read “The Happy Prince” and, of course, “The Selfish Giant,” and loved them, but it wasn’t until recently I finally read the rest of his collection. His short stories are all so deep and sad and beautiful and profound – and very Catholic. 10/10
1. Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
If I thought Joseph Pearce’s book on Wilde was heartbreaking, reading Wilde’s own writing about his imprisonment, what got him there, his repentance, and his reflections on Christ as the Great Artist in this letter were so much more heartbreaking…. and beautiful. I highlighted so many quotes on my kindle version because there were so many good bits. I love Wilde’s witty writing, works such as those of his play An Ideal Husband, but this is where the mask really falls away, as Pearce calls it, and he writes painfully honestly and wow. While there were short sections I didn’t agree with, as a whole, this is Wilde’s most Catholic work.
Other Honourable Mentions…
Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy. Better YA and involving magic and questions of good versus evil (and woman’s role in society). Kurt Vonnegut’s short story collection While Mortals Sleep (I really want to read more of his work now). And I finally read Twelfth Night! It was a really good play and I might even include it on my top five Shakespeare list.
I also read a bunch of good books on teaching (some not so great) and a couple official church documents (I might have sneaked a few onto my Goodreads list even though they shouldn’t really count since they weren’t book length).