I like to consider myself an avid reader. I've enjoyed reading my entire life, hanging out in the bookmobiles as a kid and the libraries, "choosing my own adventure". Remember those books? Now I read just about anything except sci-fi, although if it had really good recommendations I might consider it. So with that said, my favorites from the year of 2017 are quite varied. When you keep your options open, you're never short of great books.
My goal for 2017 was to read 35 books and I'm happy to report that I finished off the year having read 42! If I were to create a pie chart of what I read, it would probably be 50% non-fiction, 30% fiction, and 20% poetry. I want to change those ratios for 2018 and read more fiction, which I'll definitely discuss in a future post.
But for now, here are my top 6 picks from 2017 (click book images for more info):
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World - The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
This was a great book that I couldn't put down. I love the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and I've been a fan of Nelson Mandela for ages, which made me familiar with Archbishop Desmond Tutu but I never read anything from him directly. This book is a conversation between these two friends over the course of a week. They trade stories, wisdom on various topics from their point of views (which is quite different sometimes considering their religious differences), poke fun at each other (super cute), and they practice some of each others religious traditions, all with humor and light hearts. They have wonderful advice for navigating our current world with inner joy and I highly recommend it.
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
See, I told you my reading is quite varied. This is a classic! If you enjoy Anne of Green Gables or any other LM Montgomery books, I recommend giving this one a go. It's the story of Valancy Stirling, who is the black sheep in the family. She is in her 20's and unwed, which back in the day meant there had to be something wrong with her, and she constantly gives into her mother's demands.. until one day she receives a letter and it all changes from there. I don't want to give too much away but by the end it had me daydreaming about my own blue castle.
Also, it's really short so it's easy to knock off the list! :)
What Falls from the Sky: How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds by Esther Emery.
Here it is, what we all want to do (right?) - disconnect from the internet for a year. This is Esther's story about how she became overwhelmed with keeping up with life and decided to take her life back. I had so much fun reading along as she documented her year on the internet fast. It really made me think about how much time I spend on the net and things I rely on it for. We don't have to go to any extremes but it's a great reminder for moderation. Life happens when our face isn't in front of a screen.
Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki.
I consider myself a minimalist so any book on minimalism, I read. Not to really learn anything new, but to see the way others apply it to their lives and the lessons they learn from it. This book is Fumio's journey from essentially being a hoarder to living with very little. He used one tiny cloth for everything from drying off after a shower to drying his dish(es). It's fascinating to see how few material objects we can live with and feel content. It opens us up to being able to focus on other areas of our life. Instead of tending to our things or focusing on shopping and buying stuff, we can focus on travel, creative endeavors, friends and family.
Letters: Emily Dickinson
I love this book so much. It might be my favorite of the year. This is a collection of letters Emily Dickinson wrote to her family and friends. She was fairly reclusive aside from her stint away at school. She grew up and lived her entire life in her family home in Amherst Massachusetts. Through her letters we see how she lived, a lot easier than through her poetry. The last letter of the book has stayed with me- her final letter to her cousins knowing she was being "called back". Emily died at the age of 55 after a couple rough years of illness (kidney disease).
Emily's home in Amherst is now a museum and guess what, you can pay for a couple of hours to "rent" her bedroom. For a fee, you can have her room to yourself and sit at her desk at the same window she looked out and write yourself (or daydream). How amazing would that be? It's definitely on my bucket list.
Upstream by Mary Oliver
“Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect.” - Mary Oliver
This book a moment. It's what you read when you want to feed your soul.
Have you read any of my picks? I'd love to know what your top books of 2017 were. Leave a comment and let me know!