WARNING! Nerd alert! I. Love. Books. I love adding them to my TBR (To Be Read) list. I love the thrill of buying a new book, or more than likely, getting it from the library (books + free = utter happiness). I love talking about books with friends and most of all, getting so wrapped up in a story that your heart is aflutter and you can’t bear to put it down. If that sounds like you too, then read on to see what I did and didn’t read in 2017.
A few points to mention before you read on.
- This is a LONG post because it contains all of the books I read in 2017. Going forward I will try to post monthly.
- Teaching is my full time gig, so I do a fair amount of reading that may not appeal to you — such as kid lit or Young Adult Lit. But from one reader to another…if you haven’t checked out either of those categories lately, maybe you should try something new. 😉
- A bit on the formatting: first, you’ll find the title and author. I’ve also linked to the book through Amazon, but this is NOT an affiliate link. While I love to support independent bookstores, my favorite source is the public library. Next up you will see a brief synopsis of the book in my own words. This is the italicized part. Finally, you’ll see my review and final thoughts. Hope this helps!
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalinithi
A non-fiction memoir about a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV cancer.
This one was all over book lists, but I didn’t care for it much. I thought it was just okay. Paul’s widow, Lucy, has been in the news recently as she fell in love with another widower, John, whom also lost his spouse to cancer. Interestingly enough, John’s widow also wrote a memoir about her battle with breast cancer. Confused yet?
The Lucky Few – Heather Avis
Heather was a Special Ed. teacher (like me), while her husband, Josh, was a web & graphic designer (like my hubby). How funny? This is their story of trying to get pregnant, losing that hope, deciding to adopt and life with 3 amazing kiddos. Oh…and 2 of their 3 kids have Down Syndrome.
First of all, I hold a special place in my heart for people with Down Syndrome, so when I heard about this book, I had to read it! I love love, love that Heather is so positive, yet honest, about life with kids that have special needs. She is also helping to flip the script of what special needs looks like and I just love her for that. For a daily dose of cuteness, find her on Instagram @macymakesmyday. I could just eat her little guy, Auggie, right up!
Love Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton
A memoir about how Glennon went from a party girl/semi-functioning alcoholic to married with 3 babies and all the stuff in between. She suffers massive betrayal, not only from her husband but from herself on the way to discovering who she really is.
Though our paths are drastically different, Glennon’s raw honesty caused me to look back to times that I betrayed myself in order to make others like me. Clearly, I’m not the only one this message resonated with as her blog momastery.com has a huge following, including the likes of Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert. Glennon is also a huge proponent of giving back and started a nonprofit called Together Rising that helps mothers, children and special needs schools.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – Kristin Newman
A sitcom writer travels the world in her 20’s and 30’s for longish stints (sometimes alone, sometimes not) while most of her friends are getting married and having kids.
This book was a real treat, as someone who loves to travel. I was able to laugh out loud and live vicariously through Kristin’s adventures. This was runner-up for my favorite book of the year.
The Yellow Envelope – Kim Dinan
Kim convinces her husband to quit their jobs and travel the world for a year. Before they leave their hometown, a friend gifts them an envelope of money to give away as they see fit.
Honestly, I probably only got about ¼…maybe ⅓ of the way through this book. I checked it out through Hoopla Digital and books “return” after 21 days. Needless to say, I checked this out 3 times and still haven’t finished it. I just didn’t get into the story. At times I felt the author was bratty and spoiled. If she were one of my friends, we’d likely have a “come to Jesus meeting” and I’d tell her to cut the crap. But who knows…maybe I’ll like it more once I actually finish it. Because I will, at some point.
In A Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware
It’s a psychological thriller that takes place in the woods. Shocker, I know!
I saw this one on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram account. That woman is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to picking books and she has a new account to stalk. Follow along at @reesesbookclubxhellosunshine. This book was a good, quick read and I didn’t see the ending coming.
The Marriage Lie – Kimberly Belle
Iris and Will were the perfect couple. Will takes off for a business trip in Florida, but suddenly Iris gets a call that he was killed in a plane crash en route to Seattle! Iris is filled with doubt and so many questions.
This psychological thriller was a super quick read! I finished this one in 3 days!
Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff
This book is a bunch of short stories taken from Acuff’s years of blog writing at, you guessed it, stuffchristianslike.net.
The hubs and I listened to this during a road trip. It’s easy to stop and start due to the formatting. If you’re not a Christian and/or you’ve never been to church…this probably wouldn’t be your cup of tea.
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki
Personal finance book challenging common myths about how to get rich. Told from the lessons that Robert learned from his “poor dad”, the one who earned enough money, but had little to show for it and his “rich dad” who was really his best friends dad that owned his own business and made his money work for him.
I’m a huge budget and finance nerd! To the point where I’ll happily spend my Friday night going over the budget and “running the numbers” for different scenarios. Therefore I’ve read many personal finance books. I kept going back and forth to this book and it took me about 3 months to finish because none of the info he presented was a game changer for me. I already knew most the principles he talks about. This book set the author up to write more books and even host speaking gigs, but if you’re looking for hard and fast financial rules to live by…this wouldn’t be my go-to book.
21 Success Secrets of a Self Made Millionaire – Brian Tracy
A quick “toolkit” of things to do/mindset adjustments to make in order to set yourself up to become a millionaire.
I listened to this for free via Hoopla Digital (from my library) and while it was only 1 hour 7 minutes, I wasn’t enamored with it. It’s received great reviews on Goodreads, but I thought a lot of the info was pretty obvious. Some examples of his secrets are: dream big dreams, develop a clear sense of direction, do what you love to do, pay yourself first. See? Nothing Earth-shattering, but I’m sure it’s good motivation for some people.
YA Lit (Young Adult)
The Sun is Also A Star – Nicole Yoon
A modern day love story set in NYC between Natasha, an immigrant that is about to be deported back to Jamaica and Daniel, the Korean boy who is slated to go to Yale. They meet on the street and fall in love, basically within the span of a day.
Fun fact: YA Lit is one of my guilty pleasures in life!
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Thomas’ debut novel is about Starr Carter, a black teenage girl who goes from living in the ghetto to her prep school self, depending on who she is around. One night over break she goes out with friends and her friend, Kahil, gets killed by a white cop. Starr was the only witness to the shooting and now she has to find out how to navigate her life in the midst of this national headline that sparks protests and riots.
This was another book on everyone’s list, but I mainly read it because so many teachers were raving about it. Definitely very eye-opening to read, especially as a white woman. It made me think and question myself as an educator. I love when books do that!
The Way I Used to Be – Amber Smith
Eden was raped by her brother’s best friend and she never tells anyone about it. You see Eden spiral out of control as she tries to find out who she is amidst the unresolved trauma and pain, coupled with all the typical teenage angst of first loves, heartbreak, and friendships.
This book was really raw and emotional, but I absolutely loved it. Definitely my favorite book of the year!
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic – Lauren Tarshis
A super short, fictional story about two kids and their aunt crossing the ocean on the Titanic. Part of the I Survived series from Scholastic that puts kids into real-life scenarios from history, such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Nazi Invasion, etc.
This was okay for younger kids or those without the stamina to finish a longer book. But if you’re obsessed with the Titanic, like me, you should check out Titanic: Voices From the Disaster. I recommend the audio version of the non-fiction kids book, though the paperback has pictures of the ship and the passengers you hear from. So, so good!
York: The Shadow Cipher – Laura Ruby
Present day NYC. Three kids work to solve an ancient cipher in the hopes of saving their high rise apartment building from being knocked down by a real estate mogul.
While I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t quite as good as I expected. I guess that’s what happens when you listen when someone says it’s as addicting as Harry Potter. #notevenclose
Smile – Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel)
A graphic novel that’s actually a memoir of Raina’s life growing up! In 6th grade, she knocks out her front teeth and has to get braces, when all she wants to do is fit in.
I love Raina’s books. Quick and easy to read and kids absolutely love them!
Ghosts – Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel)
Catrina and her family move to Northern Cali because her younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and the cooler air will help her. Upon arriving in town, a neighbor boy tells her the town is filled with ghosts. Talks about Dia de Muertos and Mexican traditions surrounding it.
Again, a quick and easy read and kids love it.
Dogman – Dav Pilkey (Graphic Novel)
This book introduces a dog that’s the hero who fights crime and saves the town.
Definitely not one I’d read if I wasn’t a teacher. Young boys seem to love anything Dav Pilkey creates. (He’s the author of Captain Underpants).
George – Alex Gino
George is an upper elementary aged boy who secretly wants to be a girl. When he and his best friend try out for parts in the school play, Charlotte’s Web, his teacher refuses to let him audition for Charlotte because he is a boy.
Being that it’s geared for 8-12 year-olds, this was a quick read. This was another book that helped me step outside of my comfort zone and see things from a new and different perspective.