My Top 10 Favourite Books – 2017

Another year is drawing to a close, and with it, comes my favourite reads from 2017! So without further ado, I give you a list of my top ten favourites (and I’ll even throw in a few honourable mentions too.)

In no particular order, my 2017 Favourite Reads are:

1. The Whistler by John Grisham
4 out of 5 stars
John Grisham is one of my all-time favourite authors and this book was no exception to his brilliance. A legal thriller about a corrupt judge and a client who “blows the whistle” on a huge cash-skimming scheme, this book is well-written and fast moving. This is not my all-time favourite John Grisham book but it’s still easily one of my favourite books for 2017.

The Whistler by John Grisham
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2. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
5 out of 5 stars
Set during the siege of Sarajevo, this book follows three fictional characters and their fight for survival and humanity amidst the war-torn city. Moved to tears, this book was gripping and horrifying and oh-so-beautiful. The writing is powerful and drove me to further research about the Bosnian war. This book came highly recommended to me by a friend and now, I gladly pass that recommendation on to you.

3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
5 out of 5 stars
I can’t gush about this memoir enough. Within seconds of finishing it, I was pushing it into my husband’s hands and telling him that he had to read it too. He loved it as much as I did. Funny and brutal and honest and brilliant: these words don’t even come close to describing how beautiful poignant and moving this book is. If you don’t read any of the other books on this list, make sure that you read this one. This writing is breathtaking, the memoir heartbreaking, and you won’t be disappointed.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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4. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
5 out of 5 stars
Can someone say “PLOT TWIST?” Seriously. From start to finish this novel is gripping, unexpected, and cleverly written. If you like mysteries and psychological thrillers, you’ll love this book. I’m not even going to tell you what it’s about for fear of spoiling its brilliance. Don’t read any reviews, just go read this book!

5. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
5 out of 5 stars
I love the simplicity of this book and the call to direct our hearts and minds back into thorough study of God’s word. It’s easy to pick up our Bible’s and read a random selection of chapters from day to day, or to follow along with topical “study” books but this is such a good reminder about making our own thorough, investigative study into scripture. This book offers a very practical, clear-cut method for how to study better using the time you have — and that is a reminder that I can always use.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
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6. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Meyers
4.5 out of 5 stars
Two women, two different time periods, one painting that intersects their lives in an irrevocable way. This story is another dual narrative tale set in both WWI German occupied France and in modern-day London. I found it to be a really beautiful read about love, loss, and survival. Having read one other mediocre-feeling book by this author, I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

7. The Lake House by Kate Morton
5 out of 5 stars
Kate Morton has now made it into my top five all-time favourite authors and this book is one of the reasons why. Full of bold, dynamic characters, delicious mystery, and countless twists and turns, this story is comprised of numerous narratives set over the course of several decades. There are red herrings galore in this story and I loved the descriptive details and lush writing. Books like this are hard to find and so I don’t mind that this one has a very similar feel to Kate’s other novels. This is a book that I didn’t want to ever end.

TheLakeHouse
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.8. John A: The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn
5 out of 5 stars
This biography is Part I of a two book series surrounding the life of one of Canada’s best known political leaders, Sir John A. McDonald. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I was so hesitant to dive into it. Informative and a perfect refresher on the political atmosphere leading up to confederation, this book is a great historical read. I appreciate the fact that Sir John A. is portrayed honestly (faults and all) and was intrigued by many of the early political tensions that have carried over into modern-day Canadian attitudes. So to all my fellow Canadians (or history-buffs) this one is for you!

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9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5 out of 5 stars
A historical fiction novel set in France during the Second World War, this book follows the relationship and journey of two sisters. It’s elegantly written and full of tales of drama, adventure, and bravery. I definitely cried my way through the last few pages of this one!

10. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
5 out of 5 stars
Ever since I was a child, I have love, love, loved memoirs and biographies from missionaries, but this one may be one of my favourites. “Evidence Not Seen” is the true story of American missionary, Darlene Deibler. Held in a Japanese prison camp in New Guinea during the Second World War, this story is one of incredible faith and surrender to God. It’s a beautiful and inspiring testament to the faithfulness of God (and a very interesting read historically as well.)

EvidenceNotSeen

 

Honourable Mentions:
These books didn’t make it to the top ten but they were still memorable reads for me this year — each in their own way. 

1. The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
3.5 out of 5 stars
Truth be told, I didn’t think I was going to like this book very much. When it comes to royalty, I much prefer non-fiction biographies and I worried that this not-so-loosely based Will and Kate fan-fiction book would just annoy me. In actuality, I rather enjoyed this book. It’s cute, made me giggle-out-loud a couples times, and overall was an entertaining read. The book seemed to drag A LOT in the middle (definitely didn’t need all 450 pages) but overall it was fluffy and light, and a good for the beach type of read.

2. Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan
3.5 out of 5 stars
I love a solid biography and this was exactly that — all six-hundred pages of it. This book is the well-researched story of Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva. Living the entirety of her life under the shadow of her father, her life can only be described as tragic. While I, as the reader, didn’t always like Svetlana, I found the book to be written with compassion and honesty. The book is long, the subject matter and the story heavy but this biography is a very interesting look into a difficult life.

Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

3. The Rocks by Peter Nichols
3 out of 5 stars
Set amidst a Mediterranean resort, sparkling blue seas, and ancient olive groves, this book was a good vacation read. Written backwards through time, readers are led to slowly uncover the secrets of decades past. While this occasionally caused me slight confusion, the writing style and beautiful setting made up for it. The only downside for me on this one was the sexual interactions between the characters, I just didn’t feel it was necessary or beneficial for the plot. I would have given this a four stars for writing quality but definitely knocked it down to a three for the above reason.

4. The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
4 out of 5 stars
A moving, fictional story that follows the crumbling relationship of two sister-in-laws and their families. The story was very well written and full of heart. The characters are dynamic and complex and evolve so beautifully throughout the story. The story is predictable but captivating.

5. Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields
3 out of 5 stars
I like that this book looks at some of the core Gospel stories through the eyes of a fisherman (or in this case, fisherwoman). The shores of the Sea of Galilee are featured prominently throughout the Gospels, and the author’s unique perspective helped me to better understand some of the “fishier” parables and stories. I loved the Christian memoir side to this book and the personal stories of life and fishing out along the rugged Alaskan coast. What I didn’t like, however, was her tendency to extrapolate and speculate about specific Biblical texts – ex: what the disciples would say to her if she was there, what she thinks probably happened etc. Overall, an interesting premise but not quite what I’d expected.

Crossing The Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields

6. Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin
4 stars out of 5
After spending two months in Calcutta alongside Mother Teresa the Missionaries of Charity, the author gives us a glimpse into the lessons she gleaned along the way. I enjoyed this book’s memoir style and appreciated the concluding challenge to find your own Calcutta.

7. Fiercehearted – Holley Gerth
4 stars out of 5
Covering a wide variety of topics as told through the author’s personal experiences, the book is story-based, yet feels incredibly relatable. The chapters themselves are short and concise, and feel very similar to a collection of blog posts. I found myself giggling out loud in one chapter and tearing up in the next. I love this book’s reminder that we are not alone, that we are works in progress, and that what the world views as weakness can be strength in Christ.

 

Have you read any of these books? Leave me a comment and let me know of any spectacular books that you’ve read this past year! Also, don’t forget to join me on my 2018 BOOK CHALLENGE!

 

 


My top ten favourite reads of 2017

1 Comment

  1. vanessawolfe says:

    I’m so glad you liked The Glass Castle. It was one of the first memoirs I read on my own and reading it made me realize that memoirs aren’t all boring grown-up books 🙂

    Like

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