The 65 Books I Read in 2017

In January of 2017, I challenged myself to read at least 60 books in the year.  Although this is fewer titles than I’ve read in past years, I wanted to focus on reading more texts that would challenge me (ie. books that take longer to finish).  

After compiling my list, I observed that

  • I’ve read significantly more nonfiction than fiction than ever before.  I have no problems with this one-year imbalance, as it’s a slight correction to my lifelong reading habits and my literature degree.
  • Even though I only read a few of these, the essay collections were some of my favorites, and I’d like to pick up more of this type of book in 2018.
  • What is woefully absent is poetry. I’d like to challenge myself to read full collections of poetry (rather than the isolated poems I currently read, usually in preparation for teaching) in 2018.

Here is the complete list of titles I read in 2017, arranged by genre, not necessarily in the order I read them:

Nonfiction: History/Sociology/Current Events

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color-Blindness by Michelle Alexander
Race Matters by Cornel West
How to Be Victorian by Ruth Goodman
Death of a King by Tavis Smiley
Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin
Demand the Impossible! by Bill Ayers
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back  by Elisabeth Rosenthal
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Nonfiction: Essays

Upstream by Mary Oliver
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks
Poetics by Aristotle
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Nonfiction: Memoir

Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work by bell hooks
The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy
Alive, Alive Oh! by Diana Athill
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray
Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician by Sandeep Jauhar

Nonfiction: Spiritual/Personal Growth

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann
The Naked Now by Richard Rohr
Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
The Raft Is Not the Shore by Thich Nhat Hanh/Daniel Berrigan
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
The Age of Miracles by Marianne Williamson
The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson
Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron
Short Stories by Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine

Fiction: Popular/Genre

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
The Storied Life of AJ Filky by Gabrielle Zevin
When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia Wrede

Fiction: Literature/Classic

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Cassandra by Christa Wolf
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Fiction: Children’s/Young Adult

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Winter by Melissa Meyer
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King
The Hostage Prince by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Drama

Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus
Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus
Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
The Bacchae by Euripides
Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Othello by William Shakespeare
The Tempest by William Shakespeare

What were your favorite reads in 2017? What are your recommendations for reading in 2018?

–Jen

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